Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Our eyes are ever turned / Inward"

Approaching the front door, she doesn't hear his voice or his acoustic guitar. She enters, closes the door, calls his name. A pinch of silence, then she does it a second time, more abrupt, a whisker louder. In the stillness of the front hall, there's the hard realization that she did not fancy coming home to his tinkering—the start-stops and stop-starts, the repeated phrases and tuneful humming and strummed chords—the songwriting, his work, until this very moment, when it's unexpectedly muted.

Still, she feels his presence, in the hallway and in the kitchen, where she places her umbrella and coat on a hook. His presence, all through the house, a consequence of the prolonged spells of hermitic behavior, when his craving for wide-open, natural landscapes is turned on its head and he requires the cramped security of four walls, a low ceiling, tight spaces. Days at a time spent cloistered inside, laughing, brooding, playing, writing—never exiting the house until his electric, manic spell of creativity comes to an unceremonious conclusion. As of late, that presence has twisted into a frustrating dichotomy: when he's here, he is often not, consciousness replaced by a sort of artist's hypnotism, the songwriting process endlessly whirring inside his head. And when he's not physically here, he stills feels here.

She leaves the kitchen, pushes open the door to his bedroom—and touches her chest, slightly startled, surprised at being slightly startled. Beneath an unadorned light bulb, he sits on the floor, next to the only window, his back to the unpapered wall, a cigarette glowing in an ashtray on the sill. His guitar occupies the bed; pencils and dogged sheets of paper garnish the nightstand. As she takes in this scene, words leap to her. Poet Patrick Kavanagh's vision of the Irish race: "We are a dark people / Our eyes are ever turned / Inward."

He is done writing. Tomorrow he will go outside.

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