Say there was a thing that happened. When it did, you were there and in all of its particulars the thing unfolded before you. Maybe it was a certain time of day or night. If the moon was out and in its orangey color from being low over the hills to the east. Maybe a coolness to the night air but still tinged with warmth and still heat coming up from the asphalt roadway and the sidewalks and the sides of the buildings. Music coming from a upstairs window where a woman’s shadow could be seen behind the blinds. Walking back and forth.
Also the murmur and squelch of the radio. The way the belt bit into your hips. The sore spot in your low back from the cuffcase pressing in. The shift of your shoulders to set the bulletproof vest right. How you rubbed the back of your neck before stepping out into it.
And then the thing. It happens or it has just happened and there is the evidence of its birth into the world hanging in the air all around you. The taste of it on your tongue. Objects registering in your eyes and your body moving through space to interact with the thing. It its incarnation. In its newborn bawling.
What is it that you take from such a thing.
What has happened there in the night is the first unfolding of it. Where it is born into the world and there it has its existence. But you take away a seed of it which then blossoms inside of you.
On the nights, the first nights, you are restless in your bed and your flesh is hot and there is nothing for it but to watch the flower burning in there behind your eyes. While you stare at the ceiling. While you press your fingers into your eyesockets hard.
There it is and there it burns in its second incarnation.
After some days and nights the thing is burnt out and lifeless and you might nudge it with your toe or turn it over a time or two but it’s got no more life in it and maybe it dries up and blows away or maybe there is like a grease spot left behind.
The thing is not yet finished with you.
What I mean to say is that it puts out a kind of tendril that reaches all through you and jerks your head around when the wind is right or the moon or the sound of that music or the smell of smoke. That sends a chill bucking down your spine when you was thinking of nothing in particular.
How it will get a life of its own. How it will grab hold of whatever nerve endings and yank and borther until you can’t always be sure your hand will be steady when it goes for the coffeecup.
What you do is you collect them one after the other day after day. Not every day. Not even every month. But sometimes two a week or three and maybe a month or two goes by or even one whole winter one year but still you go on and you pick them up and maybe it can be likened to the way you pick up burrs walking through the flatlands and come out the other side of a long draw and they’ve gone and worked themselves in tight.
Not wanting to leave go of you.
I always did like the quiet nights when you could drive up the coast to the county line and park and watch the moon out high and lonely over the water and the hills falling off directly from the roadway into the blackness of the sea far below you and no noise at all rising from the lowlands and not a speck of manmade light to be seen but for the glow off of the radio and the dashclock and not a body saying word one.