The Mad Poet’s Heaven

Perusing Abender’s journal, I’ve gotten to know his style a bit. Usually he muses at length on the meaning of events and includes possible interpretations and scant details. A certain day in August, after Abender and Ollie had been married about 18 months, is different. He fills 4 pages with details, then ends with a poem composed on the spot, in which a person is mentioned who never appears again in any of Abender’s writing.

Here are a few incidents from the day.

***

Around noon, Abender finds himself walking in a strange field. He doesn’t know where he is for a bit. He sits down and holds his head in his hands, but a worm is struggling in a clod of dirt and he can’t bear to look at it. With a violent twist, he changes his position so that he is leaning backwards on his elbows, looking up into the sere August sky. He stays this way for who knows how long, until the farmer comes out to him.

“Abender,” he says, gently.

Abender stares at him, then gangles to his feet. The farmer gives him a tin cup with some cool water in it. Abender drinks it, then hands the cup back and stumbles off. The farmer returns to his work. Imagining the view if he were floating in the sky, Abender sees himself and the farmer veering off in separate directions, the farmer heading toward a distant machine, himself trudging toward a stand of trees that borders the field.

Later he finds himself walking along a dirt road.

“Mad poet Abender! Mad poet Abender!” a chorus of three small children are screaming at him. Abender stops and looks at them, swaying a little. Their mother rushes up and hushes them. An old man, the woman’s father, whispers with her. Abender thinks they are talking about him.

The old man takes the hat off of his own head and puts it on Abender’s.

Later Abender is standing outside a church, in the shade beside its outside walls. He hears the telephone bell inside the church. The minister pokes his head out a side door and looks at Abender, then goes back inside and talks on the telephone. Later, he comes out and stands beside Abender.

Abender is watching two rabbits.

“Rabbits are silent creatures,” Abender says. “They speak by looking at you so appealing, with their doe eyes.”

“They are also innocent creatures,” the minister says. “And God loves the innocent, Abender.”

Abender looks into the sky. “I always think the sky is like a picture of heaven,” he says.

“How so?” the minister asks cautiously.

“The light in the middle,” Abender says, “and all the little lights and sometimes you can’t see any of it – just an impenetrable deepness.”

The minister puts a paper and pen into Abender’s hand. When Abender finishes writing and lookes up, the minister is gone and twilight has fallen.

Abender rises and goes home to Ollie and Hannah.

***

Here is the poem Abender wrote in the churchyard. It’s terrible to be made to feel such pity by such a bad poet.

Blue bleeds into grandmother’s cheek;
Blue fades into mother’s eyelids,
Blue seeps into baby’s lips.

Blue is a color of forgetting.

Baby flies into the deep sky;
she leaves something behind.

The blue sky is for a moment of forgetting;
blue sky deepens the longer I look.
Lying on my back I can look, and look;
I feel I can always look a moment longer.
But in truth, sometime I’ll forget to forget
and then I’ll tumble out of the sky,
down to where blue is deepening in a cheek,
in a wrist, in an eyelid.

I will kiss your blue lips;
I will name you Honora.
I will look into the sky;
I will nod a dear goodbye.

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