Keanu Reeves once as a character said
his biggest fear was quicksand: At first everything
is going fine then you make one mistake.
And another. And another.
You try to fight back
but the harder you fight the deeper you sink until you can’t
Such it is with love.
A beauty of metaphor that allows me no peace.
The specter of solitude haunts you.
Follows you. Lurks
in the shadows behind you.
As you take the solitary walks of shame
you’ve always taken,
whether at the base of Fort Bliss or the side streets of the Little Apple.
The ones you still take with alarming regularity.
You feel it: Solitude’s breath.
but you can’t do anything about it.
Love’s optimism beats through your veins
like a tarantula’s blood.
Love is the heartbeat.
Faith in Solitude’s eventual banishment is the organs.
Solitude itself is the tarantula-wasp.
You fight it when it first attacks
in your youth. You try not to let it get a hold.
You feel your first kiss like the tarantula feels when its jaws
grab hold of the deadly insect. You feel your heart flutter
with joy, with excitement, with the youthful optimism you might
live. And not just live, but life carelessly.
Love: the noble but flawed aspiration to simply take care and cherish another
is all that’s ever mattered. That solitary desire
has clung to your DNA like the spider now clings to the hope of life.
But just as quickly as you feel your first kiss
you feel yourself let go. You feel the wasp
wriggly free with haunting power. Your jaws slip
though you know you’ll die if they do. You try to will them
into holding. Into not make the single mistake
But the wasp is already free.
And just like that it’s over.
Solitude stings you, and begins to drag you
paralyzed but still with a long life ahead
To its dark layer.
You already know what’s coming next. You also know you’re powerless
for all your strength, to prevent it.
So you try not to resent yourself for your failure
and brace yourself for the pain you’ve caused yourself.
The tarantula was drags you to its hole.
It stings you a second time, this time, leaving in your abdomen an egg.
You count your mistakes during the initial fight
like the lonely count their failed relationships. You feel
its larva: the idea of never being all you’ve ever wanted
start to consume:
All from the inside out
even while you’re still alive.
You chase away friendships as the larva starts to grow,
you lose confidence when you get a divorce,
knowing that for a split-second you had all you ever wanted,
and all you had to do was stop yourself from chasing it away
and you failed to do so.
You feel your heart, nerve, and sinew start to betray you
the way Kipling warned you never to do if you wished
to be have all the world, and everything in it and what was most
to be a man.
You lose all of it.
Until one day, one minute, one instant,
as you feel solitude’s larva about to consume the heart of your belief,
you realize God is watching, and you must be stubborn.
You decide to savor each breath and simply enjoy that you can breathe
however painful and tiring that may now be.
You take long walks
alone. Enjoy the architecture and the clouds.
You look longingly
at the wedding processional at Saint Isidore’s,
at the old couple, hands embraced, taking their own walk.
You look longingly at them, remind yourself
of the lyric you once learned, even though you didn’t have to, from Aida:
“I shall not envy lovers, but long for what they share.”
Then slowly, like the tarantula as it takes its final breath
you close your eyes. But where the spider now accepts its death
you set your heart to accepting your life
and somehow decide to keep eagerly waiting.