death be not proud, from holy sonnets of john donn,
set by benjamin britten; ian bostridge and graham johnson
*ronandini pieta, 1564
this eve, i will go up north to meet family, now we are five, not six.
wait, we are six this evening i think. the wee one will be with us. in small fragments, embedded deeply in each heart, continuing to pulse and send the warm blood out, right to the fingertips and little piggies, then back, carrying worries, happiness, disappointment and of course, joy.
when i was a kid, i saw my family as: 3 + 3 = 6
three little unruly kids and three adults.
when i moved out, i saw it as: 1 + 3 + 2 = 6
me, loner, adults who deemed me crazy and bros
years later, then my older bro moved out: 1 + 1 + ( 3+1 ) = 6
gabe never moved out. in fact, he was well on way ton convince the three adults to buy a house with basement apartment, so that he may live like a proper baby brother.
then he rolled the car and that was that: 1 + 1 + [(3+1)-1] = 5
the total sum of this family equation changed for first time in 28 years.
i understand that soon another one will go from the group. granny's old, she's in dusk. each time i see her, she's bit shorter, a little bit more tired, brightness of the eyes show the hint of cloud- may be a veil, like the old screens at the movie theaters that rolled down at the very end. recent winter cough took much out of her and she is of old age. once she leaves,
1 + 1 + [(3-1 + 1)-1] = 4
i feel for my mom. i think what she really wanted was: 6
no equations, divisions. just simple single group which happen to have six components. she never thought that we would lose one, nor her kids- esp me, would be so head strong that ( i ) would move out against all traditional practices she knew as old-school korean.
instead, she's got a rather complicated one, which hangs with many brackets and fine threads. it may break at the slightest pressure- as they work so hard and the generational and cultural gab have left us oceans apart.
lucky that ocean is full of love.
even when it brings all consuming storms,
taking the ships upside down,
punching it on the eye socket.
but then, thats what the ocean does.
during the recital today, the soloist kiddie decided to read the two selections from the holy sonnets of john donne (mystical poet of late 16th century), set by benjamin britten. and then it struck him and all of us- the weight of the text, the wish, which turns into a hope, extinguishable and unquestionable- for one to be free of weight of death, not just the act of dying, but of inevitable losses, the desperation now exalted into a feverish reverie, fleeing away from poison, demise and withering touch of life- as all born must age, suffer and die.
i had to hold self fairly tight mentally.
it all came together. the full moon i saw shortly after i buried the little one (mayday, 201), the first time i had the chance to look up from the weight of death of close one and related draining tasks, it is out tonight, pale and silent, moving across the empty streets, sending only the palest light to few city dwellers, still up at 430am, with burning sensations in our stomachs- whether it be love, loss or hope... as they are all equally dangerous.
the tear stains, lacrymosa of 'iii. oh might those sighes and tears return again,' of the holy sonnets- like the old rust stains on the building that is past its prime. the stains that now is part of the surface. blood of dying metals. coppery, crumbly rust. the ones that fall to the ground as dried chips as one touches it with lightest hand. like my mother's hand, which hardly has any finger prints left from working.
and fervent, delirious declaration of death of 'death' in 'ix. death not be proud'- bizarre. till today, i thought it as declaration of the faithful who believed in truth. but today, i heard brilliant moment of lucidity of a mad man who's been pickled in sorrow- the man who have not died. may be he is dorian grey. today, it was a delusional declaration of insanity in its full manifestation- at which point it becomes real.
then a friend sent me a poem, about man who was losing his wife, wondering what would happen if you went to heaven to pick a flower and came back- and found flower in his hand- what would happen? and it drew things out of me.
...then i would wonder
if it is the flower that i hold
the flower holds me
whether i am smelling the flower
flower smells me, of life, of tiredness,
and it wonders why
oh why it is so important
that all things line up the same way
is it real that (you) hold me in (your) hands
or shall ( i ) say ( i ) hold you with my life
as time turns
as nothing stays
as real as pain may be
as unreal the loss, perhaps,
as one never lose another
perhaps only by a very thin line
drawn on sand with a stick
i have a long day tomorrow. i better sleep. or at least sink into the depth somewhere that i may hear the murmur from the other side of the line. may be i will hear that continuing repeated pitch in my head- my, and wee brother's heart beat, as he lives somewhere in that complicated place, full of blood and fervour- whether i seek for life or death, which seems be the same at this moment. if i lie quietly, would i feel the heart of my mother, father and granny, whose heart would also carry bits of the wee one? would i hear slightly younger beating of my older brother's heart? would they be mourning? am i mourning?
i am confused and dazed. the feeling of thin fog enveloping my heart and my feet, slightly cold and clammy. uncomfortable. just like life is, most of the time. i grieve this dark night. i deplore.
Henry Ossawa Tanner, Resurrection of Lazarus, 1896, Public Domain.
the shortest verse of the bible intrigues and baffles me:
Edákrusen ho Iēsous
as a child in sunday school, it was impossible to understand: why would he? he could do anything? and he does?! why are YOU crying?
in the story, lazarus, his best bud, is dies. jesus heard that lazarus is ill, however, got there too late- lazarus was no more. he wept.
now, that makes sense.
what does not make sense: then he resurrects lazarus. in my eyes, jesus had nothing to cry about- may be he mustve cried because the rest were crying- much like bunch of children, when one starts to cry, the rest often joins in. may be he cried to show that he belonged with them, in common experience of death of lazarus. but it wasnt like he was never going to see lazarus- didnt he come to talk about afterlife? one must believe in it to convince people about it? if anyone was going to cry, it shouldve been lazarus: where the hell am i? what have happened? why the heck am i here alone in a burial ground? whats going on? can you imagine the horror? there is no way lazarus knew what happened to him right away- and staying in the tomb for four days, he mustve felt awful- hence: waaa!
as i got older, that small sense of sarcasm grew and grew. perhaps jesus wept because so many of us were calling him (in bane) because we are so pathetic...
jesus, i am late!
jesus, i cant believe him/her!
jesus, i failed this assignment?
jesus, he/she cheated on me!
jesus! (shakes head in disbelief)
i still think jesus would surely cry when he has to listen to all these (possibly petty) pleas and cries. jesus may even think: what are you guys? bunch of children? what do i have to do with human faults? why dont you take responsibility with your freewill? learn to be responsible, no?
regardless, the son of god cried. this is a big deal. may be he really suffered (human) pain of death. like the way he felt hunger and thirst, he felt 'loss,' irreversible (at least in this 'living' plane). this is the first time someone close to jesus dies i think. and we thought we cried when we first lost something dear to us...! (most of us, it wouldve been something smaller, older or a bit farther away from us, whether it be a goldfish, old grand parent, puppy... i only really lost someone really close at ripe age of 31 and people were sympathizing about my untimely loss of younger brother).
may be knowing that lazarus did not completely disappear and cease to exist (regardless of resurrection), he felt sorry and frustrated for lazarus' friends mourning- dont you get it kids? lazarus' not done- stop crying!
perhaps we will never know why he wept. but there it is, most memorable point of bible.
whenever life fills up to the top and i have to balance carefully- my patience leaving me, my sanity nowhere to be found, catching myself saying sharp things and getting immensely frustrated by small faults of others that was never intentional, i think of this particular verse.
he may have cried for me. because i am so small. and fragile. and has no special presence or power.so not special. because i am broken and pathetic. or because he desperately wants me to see how things really are- that no one is truly trying to screw me over, it just happened to be. because he felt sorry for me.
april rain has been coming down hard for past two days. ooh surely the day is full of reasons for us to cry. and jesus to weep. such is life. never quite right but heart-touching.
so many thoughts and people wafting through my mind today- like the famous crossings of shibuya, tokyo. as season changes, snow and mountains of workload melts away, to make room for the new. underneath it all, there they were- fragments of pasts and what may become future.
the night time solitude draws out the most tender feelings- they hibernated underneath the storm of mundane tasks of daily grind, till the softest new leaf could break through the smallest crack of the proletariat asphalt. though theyve been there for the entire winter, only getting noticed now- carrying the smallest portion of what the stories may have been-
who did that toy ring belonged to? did she cry when she lost it?
who wouldve tossed that fag end? in frustration or jest? in bravado or with reluctance, knowing that's the last one in the box?
they lie naked on the sidewalk, in faded glory. as people pass it by, stepping on and on.
pot of tea sits, 4am bitter. blood of leaves, strewn in violence of hot water, they release the memory of hot days and cool nights, when they lived, grew, stretched out to sky. now silent, sinking to the bottom, with no more joy, flight or a dance in the wind.
without companion, the tea is losing its steam. alone, i no longer desire to consume its warmth. perhaps i am the stone status, i just do not know it yet. indifferent to the world and its busy stories. frozen enough to watch the pot of tea losing its vitality and drama. perhaps that's appropriate for now. wee hours in the city, where there are no birds to chip in the turn of the night to morning. only difference may be the absence of any kind of traffic.
leaves speak from the bottom of the cup: sad. sad is alright.
soaked in spring melancholia.