On the Lives of Others
The uncertainty principle of gossip, a big walk in our usual park, when I’m told he cheats. I scan the line of trees in front of us, the first layer a film, like a set, when you go deeper it gets dense with what you can’t see from here. How long am I allowed to think, is there proof, did he admit it, was it mutual — I’m told my opinion matters, I want to run. I’m the sage, I’m not the surgeon, they should get it.
The homes are tense upon visit, I soothe, I wish people were happy, the homes I didn’t buy or build, the knives in the air suspended, as the Hungarians would put it, stopped midway by decency or habit, by deceit or accident. And I catch the furtive looks and the Facebooks closed too fast, and the children too quiet at dinner, and I wish to give, but I don’t know how to give from my happiness.
There lie paths in the forests of people, tracks to open up and roam on, what are friends for if not to cut through the bushes, to cut through the bullshit, to the marrow? I sit crosslegged on their carpet, in our circles of world-summits, the questions begged as I hint and hide, not because I’m shy or don’t know how to speak my mind, but because if the truth hurts then so will my lie. And I step out of the way, nowhere left to go on the scrabbled chessboard left behind.
I wish I knew how to tell people that there are no lives of others, that we are all we have, we’re one tribe. The skin touched across town is my own skin, there are holy places where ways meet, where children can run around noisy, where grownups have ended their wars and sit down to eat. That there’s a narrow strip we inhabit between our truths and all the lies, where we share a plate and all the stories that make up our lives.