Friday, June 05, 2009

Grey Commencement

I felt the gray man come down again last night, graying into the grayest gray, graying graying grayed. I did not ask for him, he was not invited, and yet he grays down upon me, picks up the book I am reading, his gray eyes across its page, his gray curiosity seething into the world around me, the sea of babies all round, all coming down. Did he slip inside the car with me, did I pick him up at the gas station, the ATM, down the Loop, gray graying asphalt, derelict skeletons along the road, did I shake his hand as I paid the parking and turned right into the long evening's black and white?

I felt the gray boy's hand as I entered, was it fifty years since I had last walked into its space? Had I left him all those many years ago?

Smile through gray mud, fish up gray words slurred down a gray tongue, exhumations of buried dreams as he walks into the sea of children dreaming, dreaming their beginnings, dreaming their afterwords after all the words have ended. Four orphans exhume the gray man for a moment and then climb to their own nest. We've all come for one more dreamer who would dream beyond where the words have ended.

Have they begun the dreams or are they digging? The gray man walks down avenues of need, avenues of desire, avenues of fear. Shovel in hand. Digging up or digging deeper?

A sea of 700 children.

"16 million dollars worth of scholarship money here," says a gray speaker.

Gray man does the math. The boy's hand holds tight.

Two hours pass: he walks into the gray night, hundreds shuffle by with shining rectangles at their heads. He follows the sea drift, stands, and waits: the gray is heavy upon him. One of the hundreds approaches. Out of the gray the gray man calls his name, hugs him, more gray words slurring down the gray tongue's night. The boy?

Gray words said, God or God's stand-in ushers the gray man through the gray sea, through the one gray gate, and out into the rest of the night. There are hundreds, and yet the sea parts its blessing, a quiet one, the smallest of ones, the greyest eminence, eminence grise.

Hours later, he looks across a room, through a prism of tears, sees the woman he married, sees the feet he married, sees the colors he married, the stories, the dreaming, the dreams.

The gray man sits beside a red red rose. In the heat of the day, the cool of cypress shade is narcotic. A story lies in wait. The boy's hand is waiting...



Blogger MichaelO said...

And to further on the dichotomy of the grey vs. gray theme, you have opened the gray floodgates! And I am still of confusion, with that most European of paintings harkening its greyness. And last but not least, check out the sombreros on those hermanos! All feathery-like minimizing the volume of Elizabethan collars. It's not wonder the Mexicans dropped the collars and the tights. It would be murder at those latitudes...

3:59 PM  
Blogger Tammie Lee said...

wonderful, truly. I could quote parts that touched me, like the first half of the first paragraph or other lines.
I love this piece because it can mean what we each want of it (perhaps that is always true), so deep and mysterious and gray.

7:54 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Michael: My usual slovenliness when it comes to image attribution. The painting is of François Leclerc du Tremblay by Jean-Léon Gérôme. du Tremblay, the friar in brown descending the stairs, was referred to as L'Éminence Grise. As you noted, the invocation of grey not gray is seen as the moment of release, with some musing about "powers behind the throne" and their perhaps unexpected blessings.

The piece was occasioned by the commencement ceremony of a former student of mine at the Instituto. As I sat in the cavernous tomb of the old Joe Freeman Coliseum, near-filled to capacity, a place I had not entered since I was about 5 and watched Dale Robertson ride by on his horse waving, I "woke" to the realization of yet another visitation by the gray man, a metaphorical cousin, I suspect, to your Adder Suns. He is pretty damn close to a walking zombie or someone who might inhabit one of Dante's circles of hell. The occasion stirred quite a flood of sensations, like hearing the world in its goings from deep within a darkened pit.

The grey not gray moment was the ease with which I was able to slip through the crowds, first to find my former student out of a sea of wanderers in the dark outside, and then, holy of holies, the ease of slipping right out of the parking lot and home, after expecting a good hour of a post-rock concert-like traffic jam. Such are life's small miracles, or, as a character says in the wonderful movie "My First Mister": this is one of those enormous small things...

7:40 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Tammie: I'm glad this piece found its way to you. It came, obviously, from a very gray place, but its true purpose was to commemorate the miracle of grey breaking through gray.

7:43 AM  
Blogger anno said...

These are some beautifully illuminated shades of gray (and grey!). The gray man is a heavy advisor, but significant, too: good to bring him out once in a while; even better to find the surprising miracle of grey, the eminence grise.

8:35 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Ms Anno: Heavy indeed, and no doubt significant (in his way), and thanks for the reminder that it is "good to bring him out once in a while." I had not thought him "brought," but rather (I) victimized by his intrusion. Only a good Jungian would know that he was invited.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Sepiru Chris said...

Dear Murat,

Normally when I think of pervasive greyness I think of Dreamers by Siegfried Sassooon (1886-1967).

(That's the poem that starts with the oft-quoted first lines:

Soldiers are citizens of death's grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.)

While Sassoon has not been shunted aside, this, your, usage will be stirred in the (grey) neural slurry for a while, at least.

Teresa just made a comment on shamanism and poetry on the "Convolvulus" discussion thread. She was generous enough to tell me that she thought of me when I was reading it.

I, on the other hand, thought of you.


11:03 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...


Thanks for the Sassoon excerpt and for sending me back into the tendrils of the Teresa/Chris convolvulus convocation. I had waylaid Eliade as source, but have long seen (felt) the connection between shamanism and the writing of poetry. (And thank you for the thought.) The journey with the gray man was nothing if not shamanic, and the usual flood that comes through when the poetic portal dilates could never be accused of being left-brained.

Nice convergence with Dante: along with Junot Diaz and Eduardo Galeano (one of my blog readers - Crusoe in England - is from Uruguay), I've also been reading the Inferno. It just occurs to me that Diaz's Trujillistan saga and Galeano's wrestling with a convolvulan crop of dictators are themselves journeys through hell.

And while I, too, did not read Dante in high school, I'll be reading it with my seniors this fall.

Peace, my brother.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Sepiru Chris said...

Lucky seniors, Murat.

It really is a joy coming and seeing what is on the wall here, where the revolution may strike first, or from.


9:18 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Mil gracias, Chris. Glad the blogweb has knitted us all together.

And lucky me...

1:09 PM  
Blogger alister said...

Now several days late but no dollars short (because of one wary, blue-grey eye) I show up amidst this great gray place where the language of grey rolls out poetical, meaningful. And behind the gray curtain, the guests have long gone, have left the gray bar of eloquence so high as to startle, so easy to walk under at barely five-four. It’s all about language, lush-rolling language, and visions in rhythms in tune with the clear-meaning River. Greatly pleasing, Brother P : )
Miss A

11:36 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Hermanita: Of course, you would be one of the grey-eyed daughters of Athena. I love those eyes in people I know, always note them, and remember their lineage. It's good to hear from you - that is always pleasing.

5:30 PM  
Blogger San said...

For some reason, all of this gray looking back, and through a prism of tears, at seas parting, and multitudes commencing, puts me in the mind of an etching we own. "Lady with a Hat: Widow" by the late Slavik artist Brunovsky. I believe his first name was Alban? I've tried to find the image online, to no avail. But it's in shades of gray-green. One of these days, if I can photograph it decently behind its glass, I may blog it. I'd rather do that than try to describe it.

9:18 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: I did a little Brunovsky-googling of my own: me gusto his work mucho: Klimt meets Surrealism meets Hundertwasser. I found a "Lady With a Hat," which may or may not be your etching. I liked everything I saw, one of those portals into other worlds that are always opening. Mil gracias, prima.

8:18 AM  
Blogger San said...

There's a 'Lady with a Hat' series, but the ones I've found online are not the one we own, the 'Widow.' We've always regretted that we didn't get a companion piece that was available at the time, 'Lady with a Hat: Mirror.'

Thought you might like Mr. Brunovky. Your take on his influences and his obsession with portals is astute. We treasure the piece we own.

8:09 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

San: Can't wait to see your Widow and read your musings on same. Vacation well.

2:38 PM  

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