george albon

a letter that took 20 years to write

grigor lliev — remains of the past

To those who leave us and yet carry us with them…

Querida Menina

“i wish i knew you better. i know next to nothing of who my own daughter is now.”

querido papa, let me tell you…

i am going to be 30 in less than 2 weeks. i am tall like you, lanky like you, ardently martial, like you. i am dark haired like the coal tinted tongue of an incan goddess. i have strong hands so i hold that which needs dearly to be held with the graceful fingers of a seamstress and yet i know how to let go gently when the final stitch is entered. i have broad feet so i stand my ground firm and yet i know how to leave the familiar for the unfathomed. my heart is a sanctuary. my soul is a phoenix too frequent.

my humor is like sashimi; raw, best served fresh and yet only for those who cultivate a taste for it. my eyes are like saudade; ember and balsam lit by longing for those things that are no more. my nose is like the smallest button mushroom; cats want to paw its tip off. my tongue has 9 languages stowed in it but i am the reluctant polyglot who chooses silence above all. my smile is like a saxophone lazily swaying in jazz; it makes poets and chess-players uncomfortably happy. my voice is like a bottle of good vintage; heady, denuding, getting better with age.

i am neither a morning nor a night person. i belong to dawns and dusks. i am neither winter [ like Ma] nor rains [ like you] but the interim of when one season slips its hands into the pockets of the next one’s and wordlessly deposits the keys to the vast apartment of this earth.   

i often wish i were a kite scribbling cursive lines across the page of a cloud pinked by the last brushstroke of the sun.

my mind is like a dented prism; i hope it shatters into a rainbow soon.

this is how you would have seen me. known me. learned me. 

“i miss the memory of seasons. i don’t even know if it is spring or fall. i don’t go out. the room sinks into a familiar darkness. at night i open the window and stare at the stars. when you were 7 i asked you where did you want to live, with your mother or me. you said you wanted to live amidst the stars. now i know what you meant.”

sometimes the season hews my memory from a whole novel to a single verse. a dim hum dots the black page of the night. stars are etched like letters torn from the scroll of a diamond alphabet. i memorise the celestine rhythm ricocheting from the glass tapestry of the ocean to navy praire of the sky. i am now fluent in the dialect of nebulae & meteors. i’d like to think that you speak to me through the braille of these constellations scattered above my head like a trail of mercury. as if this climate of starlight was balanced on the mammoth pendulum of June. aquila is the diligent messenger eagle, cygnus is a swan stoic in “intente volar”; sometimes the ascent of the eagle lifts my soul to majestic crests , sometimes the quietude of the swan pulls my heart down to an infinite depth. at other times, the pleiades enter the grotto of my mind like a pack of doves saved from a storm. 

now i tell myself that it is you who lives amidst the stars and when one of them breaks in my eye, i hold my hand out to collect the pearl of it. nothing but a small wave of emptiness collects itself in my cloistered palm but, dad, i know you are writing your poems on the crumpled leaf of this and every other ink-drawn nimbus. 

“bombs go off through my heart when i think about the fact that i am the reason you have suffered so much.”

dad, who is to know when the heart slips into the decree of exile? i steal a single step but count it the longest mile. what is to be read in the smooth emptiness of skin bereft of taint when all the interesting books were scriven in the language of scars? if i met jung i would hand him the scarab and say, “here is your totem.” i do not want a life shoplifted from a rundown pharmacy. i want my living to be eyes locked in, fingers knuckled, limbs outstretched; a warrior’s waltz. you told me that in flamenco even heartache has proud shoulders. this is not my illness, this is my dance.

 i am sifting through mud and grime to find a rock i can carve into a diamond. i will create my own mind, the precise axiom of it, the unwavering cut of it, the blinding shine of it.

sometimes i think of my prognosis as a trapeze and myself as a swingmonkey. living is not a dichotomy, no two parts exist separately and everything is dancing its own arete in this continnum as i have deciphered. i avoided seeking medical attention for the head wounds for the sheer dread of hearing “psychosomatic disturbances” tumble out some clinician’s mouth but now i claim schizoid as my third name. toward the end of it all no matter what they diagnose you with, what they unleash into your veins, how ever they reconstruct your chemical fault-line, the heart still remains an unsolved theorem and the mind slips into its desired, undivided geometry quietly like a  möbius strip. 

so i may have inherited your illness. i have also inherited your precise taste for brunello wines and schubert’s symphonies, a dislike of pizzas and phonecalls. i have inherited your eyes, your habit of sleeping with glasses perched on the belly and booking one-way tickets only, always, your half curved smile, your magician moves of falling off radars and maps, your brine flavoured sarcasm, your love of airports and eucalyptus trees, your need for eating egg muffins at 12 am, your 6 am run, your 9 pm beers and kebabs, your fernweh, your amour of andalusia, your windows of books, your hall of chest-laughs. your eclipsed heart, your jiving limbs. 

your whole life is pinioned to a falcon’s flight. like you, i bear my cross as a pair of wings sewn to the skin, the best way i can. 

above all, i have inherited your dignity. 

bombs go off through my heart when i think of the times i thought of striking a razor to my wrists to escape the ache of waking up to another day filled with little fears.  to imagine that my future would look like your present. i am sorry i ever thought of ending what you called your best bet: me. i am sorry i thought i didn’t have a hand to deal at all when you so clearly taught me that the first rule of poker was to always believe you will win. i am sorry that i relentlessly tried to fold up & quit the table like a two bit player when i should have gone for broke. i am sorry i ever doubted destiny’s safety nets, the rescuing stretch of the red thread tying my ankles to yours’.

now, my razors are swords. in my body courses the learning curve of what your blood affords. dignity. dignity, bellesa. always. life does not belong to anyone. only living does. make living your cornerstone. not life. 

 “go meet the world, dulzura.”

when i turned 16 you sent me a letter that ended with “i wish you sturdy, steady feet and a long open road.” pouring over these years since, the road has wrapped itself around my feet. it is my mooring, it is my map. i carry it as much as it carries me. i have learned that life is best played acoustically. i make no plans, i leave before roots begin to strangle my radii. i stumble through samovar towns, i trek to bone-breaking summits, i fragment like hunger entering coronated cities made of salt block gazebos and homes stacked like a tiered cake. i listen to the sea gurgling its cadence by my feet, to the wind whirring its engine by my ear; i leave frequently to belong. elsewhere. i have learned to affect the demeanor of roses. to be composed of many tongues, to birth myself anew in the language of each country i cross. i don’t travel for thrill anymore, i do it for peace. living is not done on the edge, it is inside the folds. i am no longer a hunter striving for a chase, i have become a gardener; i come back with new seeds to be strewn around my soul’s garden as memories of who i was on this journey in turn to raise the tree of who i will become.

seu cor dorm al meva. your heart sleeps inside mine.

nothing has not been a struggle. everything has been necessary.

the world is one undivided, parallel, ecstatic, brutal yet an unforgettable love story.

therefore my name is scherezade. the storyteller.

“I had a random grace period,
taking instruction from the intermediary
I had flashes of mundane survival, 
exhaling toward the sunlight
I had a minaret of perceptions 
that began to stand in need.”

george albon

amor. per sempre.

Zahi

[ to mi para, a gypsy who is wandering some other universe as i write this, a very happy father’s day. italics are for snippets i have borrowed from his letters/journals.]

Happy Father’s Day