Monday, October 24, 2011

I Love You, Whoever You Are

When I was eighteen and living away from home, I developed a peculiar form of calligraphy. It consisted of graceful curving strokes that began low on the left and ended high on the right, and which made the shorter letters look as if they were being protected by the taller ones. The cross on the capital letter T, for instance, began well below the base line on the left, and provided shelter to the letters that followed.

While an entire page of this script would have been difficult to read, the style was suited to a beginner’s verse. When bad poetic weather blew across the page — this happened even more often then than it does now — the eager o’s were far less likely to get a’s in their i’s, and the three-legged m’s still managed to keep their feet dry. This meant a lot to me. The fact is, it meant far too much, but in those days I wasn’t quite ready to face myself in cold stark type.

Even so, I knew I had a wealth of material at my disposal. I had already beheld my fellow human beings in their competitive rottenness and heartbroken despair, had seen their lonely lights flickering late at night through undraped windows, and been inspired by their spontaneous acts of beauty, love, and grace.

I moved through this world like a haunted form, drunk with observation, astonished by these spiritual creatures struggling everywhere around me, arguing, laughing, playing, kissing, sighing, protesting, mourning, deceiving, courting, and always trying their best to explain that which was, by its profound nature, unexplainable.

It was a beautiful, lonely time, a happy time full of wonder tempered by sadness and loss — just as it is today, with its painted autumn leaves and children playing in front of droopy little houses, its disorderly fields of abandoned hopes and dreams, its wars, and its grotesque sanity for sale on every corner. The flower of Sixties unrest was still a joy to behold, but it had begun to fade. Here and there, resignation and cynicism sprouted in the gutter.

As far as I am aware, no sample of my old calligraphy has survived. A short while ago, I tried to recreate it and failed. I was not surprised, or even disappointed. I am no longer eighteen. My blissful, lustful ignorance has given way to a kind of wisdom that very much resembles hardheaded stupidity. I would rather type anyway.

I do remember once tacking one of my handwritten poems on the wall above my desk. I have long since forgotten the words, but I know what they must have said:

Pleased to meet you,
I love you, whoever you are.

[From Songs and Letters, originally published September 29, 2005]


Stickup Artist said...

I am brought to tears. Tears of supreme joy as well as tears of a sort of despair. Your sentences and thoughts soar and sing...

William Michaelian said...

So kind of you to say. Thanks very, very much.

Anonymous said...

a beautiful piece of writing William.... though i seem to always end up in a dialogue in my head with the things you write and my head came up with 'i accept you in spite of yourself'. probably doesn't make much sense but it was the words that you said later in this piece '... a kind of wisdom that very much resembles hardheaded stupidity.' and life has made me rather accepting of the faults of others perhaps in the hope that they might show the same acceptance of mine;)

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Rahina. Somewhere out there, between your perception of yourself and mine of myself, and between yours of me and mine of you, I think we just might be alright. Acceptance is a healthy thing. It’s when we think we can pick and choose what we accept that we get into trouble.

Jan said...


William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Jan.

erin said...

oh! ( ) - inside of this rests succinctly the beating chest of the grouse.


William Michaelian said...

Birds of a feather, Erin. Thank you.