Down the road from me there is well-lit open space that looks a lot like a football field in a ring of lights. It is in fact a park filled with softball fields that is lit up all summer long and often in the fall though I don’t know why since the games are long over having become the stuff of beer fueled stories amid much laughter.
The lights are very bright and can be seen from from a great distance away. In the fall the fog rolls in from the ocean. The light disperses in the fog leaving an arch in the night air. On these nights, I sometimes imagine that I can hear the sounds of shouts and cheering riding the night wind and I imagine folks who are young and for whom the future is filled with endless summers of softball and water skiing and star filled nights at the beach.
I remember that it was once like that for me. On these nights I can remember my friend Phil and I leaving a softball game at 9 PM in a Canadian city that became synonymous with the draft resistance during the Vietnam War. We were carrying our baseball gloves and chatting about our plans. I remember that the air was velvet soft and redolent with summer flowers. It was pretty clear to both of us that we were going to live forever. It didn’t work out that way. Phil died four years ago and these days I spend a great deal of time doing what I can do to stoke the fires to keep the darkness at bay. Every photograph I take is part of the process as is the writing which is no longer easy if it ever was. Dictating is complicated because the words are sometimes garbled. I am about to teach myself how to type properly because when I am dictating, my fingers keep moving as though I was typing. It is as if they are my Marines at the point of attack bringing the words to the blank page. Sometimes I see the arc of light in the distance as an invitation to something better … a promised land like in “Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly”. I have always thought that song was not for children but rather a junkies’ lament but I know deep down that I must keep writing. I must if only because it’s what I can do everyday to stoke the fire and take another step.