at home the sky breaks


We carry the weight of the sky on our backs. Today it bears the color of a bruise, and we collectively shoulder it until we collapse to our knees. Until the pavement tears at our skin and we bleed. Until we are wounded, tired and raw. And then night falls, painting the sky with a fire that burns black. We crawl under the covers and hold one another close. A man turns to his wife, curling a slip of hair between his fingers, and says, I need to tell you something. I take you for granted. I need to love you more. After all this time, he’s finally ready to let this woman in all the way. He was always a coward, a man who never slept under the sheets but rather on top of them, and he knew this. How does he tell his wife that he guards his heart like a battalion would a fortress because he has so much to protect? The wife presses her eyes shut and says, I need to love you less. Her one leg drapes off the bed, ready to run. Across town, a girl buries her face in her sister’s hair and says, Can you keep a secret? We always keep our secrets. Down the road, a friend on a phone line says, I’ll be here as long as you need me. All night, whatever it takes. A woman leans the weight of her body on her kitchen sink, looks out her window and considers the jump. But the moon, the beautiful, brilliant moon, blinds her and she slouches back to the bed where her husband lies, wondering if she gave him too much. Finally, a woman wakes with a start. She dreamt of love. Or what she thought it was. It scared her.

The ticking is the bomb. All the clocks stop, and men scurry through the cold streets like ants. Like night thieves, they ransack the houses and pilfer the cupboards. Televisions flicker and late night movies play. Woolf tells us that, Behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that we — I mean all human beings — are connected with this; that the world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. In the night at home, which is daylight here, I think of the word fragile. I think of tears in the pattern, a trembling of a heart beating itself out. Of that final moment that no one survives.

On the street a child wonders aloud what happens when it rains, what does it mean? The mother says, When it rains, God is crying. Confused, the child’s mind races. What about snow? What about the places where it doesn’t rain? Is God suddenly upset at Brooklyn (and is it the whole of Brooklyn that caused his despair, or did just one person set him off into a heartbreak?) while another part of the world escaped his wrath? And why would God be so public with his pain? The child finds God and his public display of emotions suspect, and airs it as such to her mother. The child goes as far as calling God a crybaby, to which the mother responds, Go to your room. But we’re not at home.

The child is me.

Nick Flynn offers this: By the time I’m nine I know the world is a dangerous place. I’ve heard whispers about razorblades in apples, about Charlie Manson and his family. But no one is offering any clear information.

It rains in Paris, on and off all day, and the clouds collect, swell and break, unable to bear the weight of itself. Pregnant with grief, the tears pour out onto the streets, soak the seedlings and the dead in the dry earth. And this puts me to thinking of home, of all those people who are good, honest people, and the bomb, the bomb. How can two undo so many? Now everyone’s locked in. Keys in pockets, televisions switched on in all the rooms. Telephones buzz, vibrate and flicker fast. The collective murmuring and moving of the lips, the frenetic beating of hearts, and a day that folds into night all over again — how are we to bear the weight of the sky when wer’re tired, so terribly tired? When the life that we know has been stolen from us? Now it’s changed shape and form to a point where it’s unrecognizable. Is this my home? Is this your home? What is a home? A shield from THAT sky? The sky we bore on our backs all this time?

Home, I love you down to bone, but I want to abandon you. I want the sky to smoke you out. I want to collect all my bags, my cat and my heart and run. And it’s days like today where I hate myself for thinking this but I can’t help it.



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