Thursday, January 3, 2013

some silent some night



As a kid the song Silent Night came to mind whenever I walked in the snow at night.  Iā€™d hum it while watching the glimmer in front of me, trying to fix constellations in the shifting white surfaces. That song taught me that peace and terror could flow simultaneously from the same source.  Glory streams from heaven on high but all is silent and calm. There is  human intimacy but also a celestial vastness in the  lyrics that make it perfect for consciousness oscillating between the close, fragile warmth of the body in  and the sprawling, frozen distance of stars and snow all around.

On the same walks I used to make snow angels.   They had a weird power because they were imprints of the motion of wings. They gave me images of vast, sparkling but completely quiet messengers moving back and forth between the earth and the starlit sky.  But snow angels are also craters ā€“ the record of impact and surfaces altered by the force of heavy bodies.  The fall of Lucifer, Angel of Light, hides in the glistening furrows.

At night those snowy walks come back whenever I look at the holiday lights. They are stars hanging low and house to house. There are no heroes or monsters in these domestic constellations ā€“ only the dot-to-dot shapes of porches, rooftops, trees, perhaps a deer or two. The most mythic thing we see is the occasional cross or star.  Still, inside those gentle lights there is the silence produced by snowfall, wide and dark county nights, and the eyes of angels as fiery and strange the wheels seen by Ezekiel.  Glory streams, all is calm, all is bright.


Not silent this night.  New Years eve. The friendly chatter circling the party. The collective cheer at midnight. The affection and the love spoken and unspoken between friends together feeling the curve of time. The history Mike and I share told with toast and hug. Vomiting and apologies on the street.  The clack of heels from girls in high skirts with goose pimples on their legs. A firecracker. A scream. An unheard kiss from Alex delivered across the bar. Ugly remixes of ugly pop songs.  The shrieks of Mad Maggie the aging Russian party girl.  The drag queen's lipstick ā€“ so pink it produces a hum like neon on a wet night. The "Oh, you are a bigger boy than you look!" and the sound of sequined gloved sliding across the crotch of my jeans.  The huge wind shoving itself over the river.  The slap of cards and the sass of fags and a drunk girl playing cards till dawn.  The morning quiet.  The after-the-party stillness of the whole city.  The hum and click of a house I've never slept in before.  The familiar bush of Alex's skin next to mine.  The whisky pulse in my head pulling me to the first sleep of the year. A dreamless one.