A prayer for a troubled soul.
Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free.
– Leonard Cohen –
I am feeling like I am standing on the platform as a train pulls from the station. And I see these faces and scenes in the windows. As the train builds momentum the windows blur one into another and I only catch the suggestion of a face or an image. All of them memories, hopes and beliefs. And then the caboose finally clears the station and there on the back platform stands someone I know or knew, the amalgamation of people and loves and hurts and beauty. And it’s waving goodbye. I find myself weeping alone as the big steel wheels pull it farther and farther away. Hoarsely whispering “Come back, come back, I am not ready to say goodbye”.
Is it not such a stretch to see that the train has been used in deep spiritual metaphors. Old Negro spirituals and workmen’s chants and backwoods picker’s hymns. The power of hearing about a train that carry’s salvation or carries away the devil is enhanced by the sounds of the steady hum of the boilers and the thud of the steel on steel. Metaphorically it’s a powerful image.
Of course writing about trains and God and imagery I see in my mind is simply an avoidance. See today or possibly very early into tomorrow is the second anniversary of my father’s death by overdose. And I am one of those that is just so affected by echos and ghosts that the reminder is making me feel all that confusion again. Sadness, grief and anger. But mostly I feel lost. Just like I am a little boy again, searching a crowd of people for his face, for his voice, for his presence. Just so I know I am safe, that I have not been left behind. I look and scan this great big crowd and I never see him and I never hear “Jeffery, come on boy. Over here. You’re okay, stay close.” And I just feel so much like I am standing alone and I am not ready to be alone.
I never expected this. I never planned for it. And now it is my life. A single man, with a small child, a family that is fractured and for all intent and purpose gone. Lonely, sad and shell-shocked. I am a strange amalgamation of clockwork gears, animal skin, rusty motors and greasy servos, man fingers, child eyes and all the screws, string and staples it takes to keep it together. I build altars to the distractions and fancies of a sorrowed mind and I cradle the icons of a cluttered heart. And in me somewhere a kernel of faith and a tiny electrical spark of truth jumps from terminal to terminal, raw wires smoldering and smoking with a plastic and ozone smell. I creak and squeak as I move. Long rusted parts that need to be tended constantly. There I am…I am.
Can you hear me? Does anyone really know? I know one person did, but two years ago he died laying on the floor of a shitty two bedroom apartment in a state of drug induced numbness. All his love, his anger and his life of rejection, fear and hate all come tumbling down all over the room around him. And he left it all right there for his lost little boy to come in and pick it all up and carry on the burden, some sad legacy.
I just hope he has peace, please God if you can hear, if you are there. Give my father the peace he could never find here. If you can do that, that would be enough. Enough for me.