I WOKE up in the unfamiliar dark, and listened to my partner breathe, in and out, inandout. I am intimate with this old dryness, know this back-in the-throat parchedness has nothing to do with water.
Still, how strange, at 41, to be caught unprepared for desire.
At 11, the blue silence of dawn found me at our dining table, writing until morning rituals caught up. At 13, the secret reading that kept me awake long after our household stirred somehow blurred inchoate yearning. Yes, yes, I want to go through those gates, but let me finish first this chapter, these stories.
I can’t fix the time when I started watching to make sure the gates were closed. But the march of regimented days did make me impatient with awkward metaphors and other snarls that sometimes woke me at a blue hour.
Then I took an article’s advice to jot down what I had to do the following day. I woke up less. And if I did, I just wrote down what I forgot.
What made this recent visitation different?
Last week, I interviewed a couple of young men. Entrepreneurs and collectors, their individual passions ranged from exotic fishes to vintage cars, from solving the knotty problem of creating a pond to getting young parents to play more with their kids.
These men in their 30s seemed to have laid to rest the conundrum of desire: can you still want something you already possess?
The Latins believe unknowability is the essence of desire. We covet what we cannot possess. In the Latin tongue, desire hides the celestial and the remote in its roots: de + sidus (constellation). Can anything be more desirable than the star beyond one’s reach?
Yet on daily terms, I can think of nothing that induces insanity quicker than having an itch that one cannot scratch. Teenagers and poets, especially teenaged poets, might need unrequited passions to fatten portfolios. I want the sanity of a tidy list that will let me sleep undisturbed for another day of battling deadlines.
During my last interview for the week, I saw beyond the figure of a young father playing with his sons this tree. For girth of trunk, spread of canopy, grandeur of shade, this patriarch has no equal in the city.
My source explained his property abutted a private 10-hole golf course. In my mind, I saw workers fit like a puzzle identical squares of grass. Beneath the tree’s solitary, inviolate majesty is just this uniform, manicured green.
It is worlds away from Patong, reputedly the highest point in
Though man-made, the woods have not been thinned. The trees grow far too close. One has only to look at the canopy shutting out the sky to feel the competitive lunge for sunlight, space.
To stray from the foot trails is to sink in knee-deep humus. No one remembers who planted the trees. No eye witnessed the leaves fall and molder. No one denies that invisible, imperious sucking.
Perhaps it is that which woke me.
Astrologists and diviners refer to a sidereal day as one measuring the Earth’s rotation in relation to the stars. While a solar day is defined by the sun, the sidereal, like desire, traces its melancholia to a separation from the stars.
To pine, lose, miss—what else is both human and divine?
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* Published in Sun.Star Cebu’s June 10, 2007 issue