I got home late tonight. It was dark and the stars were out and as I shut the door to my truck, I heard a voice call out to me. The stranger wished me a good night. Standing across the street on the corner, wearing all black and looking intently into his phone, I wondered if I had near-missed him, and when I asked, he chuckled and said, "no, but I did find a _______." I had no idea what he said. The word did not sound at all familiar to my ear, one which has heard all manner of speech and phrasing.
"Huh?" I asked, wondering at the sound of it, a little afraid, a little cautious at his strangeness, and he replied, "Poke Man-Go!" I realized he was looking at the world through an app, so I instantly stopped worrying for my safety, and shouted over my shoulder, "beautiful stars tonight!"
As I walked off I heard him abruptly reply, "huh......oh yeah!"
He had not seen the stars. He had not even looked up yet this evening, this lovely night, the air crisp and the wind a light dance across the street, and the stars...the stars clear and bright and as true as anything I had ever felt. As true as love. As true as peace. As true as desire.
So I walk on and gaze up and remember how different we always end up being, and what I thought it meant and what he thought it meant and how those two meanings would always be separate. Equal. But separate. I would not know his truth and he would not know mine, but I finally understood it, and so I was able to release him for being responsible for what I believed. I didn't need him to understand anymore.
Under the bridge, alone, warming myself by the fire built with my own two hands and happy for the cover and happy for the heat. This fire, my truth, has kept me in comfort, and though the storm rages just beyond the edges of the bridge I am under, I can't feel the rain fall. This understanding comes to me only because I am content to not be threatened by the storm. I am sound where I am. I whistle and hum and hop up and down to stay electric and alive. Happy to make the effort to feel the blood rushing through my body and the hair on the surface of my skin dance in the lovely winds that blow the flames higher.
I dwell in the myth of Prometheus, his gift to us and the torture he suffered. All the meanings and all the ways I could feel that flame. What is fire after all but love? What is fire, if it is not desire? What is fire, if it is not wisdom?
So many things fire can be, even when it is keeping you warm under a bridge at 2 am. Even when it is the fire in the driveway that almost blows up into disaster. even when it is the flame that never quite caught in the wood stove, even as the last bit of it burns out of the relationship.
Fire lives in all things, and while I cannot always start it, I have always known when it is smoldering on the edge of cinder. I see it coming and I do what I can to tamp it down. I do what I can to mitigate the damage. I do what I can, before the fire has burnt out to nothing, to salvage.....something.
Because even the memory of the fire is more than the cinder it leaves behind. The warmth of love, of desire, of wisdom do not come as easily as fire, and I think that was his secret, Prometheus.
He gave us the foreshadowing event of what we might be. What we might know. What we might feel.
And for that, he suffered a lifetime of torture.
And I in return put myself through it, but for who? For what? It is just beyond the surface of my skin. It is just out of reach of my shadow, stretching long in the early morning hours as I emerge from under the bridge and greet the eastern horizon. The storm has passed and I am out of it all. I grip my coat tight around me and head into town.
I hope to meet a stranger's eye, but will not.
I hope to meet the heart of another, but cannot.
It is all me and only me in the dance of another brilliant close, and I am lucky enough to be alone enough to know it.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, or that at least, you understand enough to connect with it a bit. It came through me, so I am not quite sure what it all means. I have literally never been under a bridge warming myself by a fire, but I had the impulse to write it, so I did. Don't worry, and don't give up. Everything that burns down will live again.
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