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I Want to Taste the Pondwater On You

from My Life's Work by Ben Seretan

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Always hounded by the feeling that coming through the parting mists, rising to meet me, catching my eye on the dance floor, starting a conversation with me at the airport bar, literally bumping into each other will be the one person, the one interaction that will lift me up, fill the darkened corners of my life with golden light, nourish the arid soil with peat moss, black humus, and rainbow blooms, wipe clean the foggy portholes, contain me, release me, completely and entirely engulf me in an all consuming flame. As I walk through the world I welcome the arrival of such a person, of such an event - I am completely open to the chaos that such a blessing would rain down upon me, I imagine abandoning my life and everything in it to follow this holy impulse wherever it may lead me, to the edge of the Earth if necessary, perhaps even unblinking and unfazed into Death's arms if that's the vibe. I scan - hungrily, greedily - for moments of serendipity, for proof that existence is bending toward me receiving such a person. On long walks in cities it is especially pronounced, I scrutinize the faces as they pass, searching, one after the other, muttering prayers to nothing in particular under my breath hoping that this thing will manifest before me. I imagine a tea bag receiving the boiling water, the bag floating, the leaves as they are water born animating against the cloth tension of the bag, the string and the tag dancing as the cup fills, the water slowly receiving the colors held within the tea, the steam rising and full of wonderful smells, of mint, of lavender, of orange peels, of lemon, of blackberry leaves, of dandelions. The fire of the water boiling. The potency of the tea revealing itself as the water rises against it. I believe this is what happens between people, that they steep. I am waiting for this to happen. I think I feel that I am owed this. I either am too impatient to let it happen or desperate to shoehorn it in, to pry it open with a crowbar and my foot up on the door, pushing.
When I was a child I would lift my chubby little fists to the sky and sing and weep and pour my heart out to the firmament every Sunday, secure in the absolute faith that my worship was falling on the ears of a benevolent and thankful lord, a never closer-ing horizon I could run panting toward. I was created in his image, I was a member of his kingdom, and one day in the by-and-by I would stroll the streets of gold beside him. My reward as long as I kept it up, if I was good enough, if I sang hard enough. I was seen by him. My whole esteem, my whole worth was contained within this. Everything else was merely a refraction, light caught in a glass ash try held up to the afternoon light.
Later I would find that I had some dominion over the proceedings of my life. I could see that I had value, desirable qualities outside of my belief. I began to want things outside of the church. I began to feel how hollow the tiny bones of my prayers were, fluttering weightlessly up to heaven. Slowly I gave away less and less of my agency. I became my own person. I seamlessly sewed that belief in surrendering to someone placed above me onto the heels of people in my life.
The al-anon FAQ I was reading earlier today describes a "power greater than ourselves" as their core tenet. It gives me pause. I don't attend the meeting.
I have never not been willing to give myself over to a power greater than myself. I yearn for it, I'm waiting for the opportune moment, I have transfigured all my affection for others in this world with the desire for this transformative power.
I have surrendered myself to others. I have believed that their presence in my life would give it back the ghost of the anchor. I am so very transfixed by the idea that something greater than myself - someone on a pedestal - could be the orienting star in my sky, blinking gently. Offered lightning to swallow, I gulp. Offered ruin I snatch it up. Offered a column of fire to walk through I plod, writing poems about how wonderful it all is while the skin melts from my bones.

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from My Life's Work, released August 30, 2018

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Ben Seretan Troy, New York

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