Monday, September 15, 2008

Gray as Hearth's Ashes

Drove through a cemetery sky the color of steel-wool this morning. And "through" is the exact word. On the Causeway bridge over Lake Pontchartrain in the rain, with the clouds sewn gray around you like a tattered shroud, you are part of the sky. And alone. Oh, there were other cars on the road with me. But they were separate coffins. Each one set apart. Each one isolated.

And on such a day, the radio played only sad songs. Bound within the car's frame with my thoughts, it was impossible to believe that the music came from elsewhere, from far away. It seemed to arise wholly out of the bubble of space I occupied, transmuted from the whine and hiss of the tires on wet cement, and from the metronomic swish of the wipers.

My mood deepened, darkened. Why at such times do you always remember the wrongs you've done? I tried to weigh my contributions this morning, subtracting the bills that others have paid because of me. I'm afraid I found the balance sheet wanting. I’m in the red.

I wonder sometimes if the world will end this way for me, and I’ll be left driving on into the rain, driving on forever on a bridge that goes nowhere. I imagine the other cars sliding away, one by one. I feel the sky closing in until my wheels turn only on wind. Do you think there will be a moment when the music stops and I am caught in a world of gray amber, left to listen to gathering silence?

Will I know it when it happens?

53 comments:

Precie said...

Charles...this worries me. You okay?

Charles Gramlich said...

Oh I'm ok. Thanks for asking. A bit of a melancholy day is all. But I've had plenty of those. Just my instinct to write it out when it comes over me.

Travis Erwin said...

Great writing and I have felt exactly like this. But Is till say you need a satellite radio to spice up your commute.

Sidney said...

Nice description if is about a grim mood and day. The storms are in the financial markets today and not at sea.

Christine saw a lot of people displaced from Houston yesterday in the grocery store, and I know it's hard for them wondering when they'll go home and what home is.

It is kind of grim when you think of the things you've done wrong, but good to work to put things on the other side of the balance sheet.

Wil said...

Dude, I was just gonna highlight the first sentence cause the imagery was awesome and then I kept reading and the whole frickin thing was almost, ethereal. This seriously makes me want to go and do bongs and listen to Hendrix or Floyd.

Man, you should be a writer or something!

The Trailer Of Love

Lisa said...

What dark, beautiful meditation.

Rachel said...

Gray is always the color that comes to mind for me when I think of depression, death, and those other "d" words.......

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis, yes, certain environmental conditions just seem to demand such feelings. I'll keep satellite radio in mind.

Sidney, I've heard that Wall street is having an uproar. Don't know much about it, though. Yes, I well remember the aftermath of Katrina, wondering what you'd go back to, and how you were going to live. I was very lucky then.

Wil, thanks, I appreciate that. Floyd would have been particularly nice. Something like "Time." Did you hear that Floyd's Wright died?

Lisa, thank you.

Rachel, gray is a very expressive color. It can convey so much mood and emotion.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Now, there is a story waiting to happen.

You don't die, you just drive into purgatory with no road signs.

Neat stuff.

Lana Gramlich said...

This piece is quite lovely, but "in the red" my fat @$$! Are you being overly critical of my husband again? Don't answer that--I already know the truth. You just wait 'til you get home, mister!

David Cranmer said...

T.S. said, "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." I think the same goes for individual lives. Either way, that's a fine poetic piece you have written.

virtual voyage said...

Great gift to express your feelings in such a way. Broad palette of subtle tones....

Crazy Dan said...

That's awesome reminds me of norse mythology, I would be alright going that way riding up to Midgar on my iron horse.

ANNA-LYS said...

Don't want 2 add more on Your melancholy ... but, sometimes tears can work as spring water.

Rick Wright (Pink Floyd) passed away today R.I.P. *tears*

Steve Malley said...

We all have these moments. Writing them out is healthy. Climbing a water tower with a rifle... less so.

:-)

Travis said...

I enjoyed the prose, but hope that the melancholy that fostered it is short lived.

minus273 said...

It is a gray day here in Mandeville; both literally with Ike's lingering rain clouds(when will Ike fall apart & leave us alone?); & news of the passing of one of my idols at age 65.

That creates a kind of gray that mutes all the colors of your moods.

Rick wasn't given enough years to balance out the beauty he created with his music.

I don't believe life is a ledger where all your good & all your bad will be accounted, with the ending meant to be a zero sum.

I do believe that Pink Floyd is classic; and will be played,performed & recorded,discussed,argued over,& written about,&
taught in schools,long
after all of us are gone.

Rick has gone to The Great Gig in the Sky, as we all shall one day, but he has left behind music that will still be familiar to those living 100 years from now.

R.I.P. Rick & Syd

Charles Gramlich said...

Paul, it's sort of like how "The Mist" ended come to think of it. The original novella, that is.

Lana, oh you know you'll just do something sweet to make me feel better. But you sure talk tough.

David, thanks. I was thinking of Elliot when I wrote it. In part, at least.

Virtual voyage, thanks. I will get by your blog soon. Been kind of crazy here.

Crazy Dan, There's worse ways to go than that, for sure.

Anna-lys, yes, I heard about that today. Lana told me. She's a huge Pink Floyd fan. Sorry to hear it. He was an awesome keyboardist.

Steve Malley, I'm definitely the write it out kind. I don't much like heights. lol.

Travis, pretty much achieved. The sun came out this evening.

Minus273, a weird thing, yesterday on my way to work I heard the song: "If there's a rock and roll heaven, you know they've got a helluva band." I guess they've got another band member now.

Scott said...

I usually enjoy grey days, but sometimes I get to feeling the same way, Charles. The weather outside can influence the weather inside.

Sarai said...

wow that was very moving. I can understand where it comes from. I've seriously had days like this. Great writing and thanks for sharing!

steve said...

A wonderful piece of writing. It reminded me of C.S. Lewis's Hell in the Great Divorce.

I know you only through your blog. But I suspect your wife is right about your personal balance sheet.

ivan said...

In Pennsylvania, I drove and drove around the same mountain, for miles and miles, and for hours, always ending up where I first bogan.
Frustrating, till I put two and two together and got back on the Interstate.

As they used to say in the sixties, you can get sort of hung like that.

the walking man said...

Unfortunately without the gray there is no rain and the rain stopped me from making a 65k mistake.

So is this how you'll end...driving an isolated road, lost in your own uniquely suited space of the moment?

It reads better this way than..."on a ER gurney a boatload of people over me, the immigrant here, shoving tubes and needles into my body, pounding on my chest as I drifted to an unnaturally brilliant light..."

All men die, at least so far very few have found a way around it...I can't worry over what I have no control over, neither the manner or means, of that all to soon demise.

Wil said...

Yes, I had heard that. Never really was a huge Floyd fan but I deemed that the most appropriate for this situation.

The Trailer Of Love

BernardL said...

It didn't hurt your writing any, my friend. Imaginative post.

Charles Gramlich said...

Scott, yeah, I like rainy days a lot. But especially when I'm able to be home.

Sarai, today is bright and sunny in contrast.

Steve, thanks. She gave me hell for it last night. LOL.

Ivan, I've been caught like that in the Ozark mountains a time or two.

Mark, yes, the fantasy is generally better than the reality. Death for real is not a fun thing to think about.

Wil, I went through a Floyd stage for sure, although I generally listen more to harder rock.

Bernardl, thankee. Much appreciated.

writtenwyrdd said...

wow...words fail me, but I know exactly what you mean. You'd have won my contest with this post, Charles!

Middle Ditch said...

Quite poetic, I say, but also a little worrying.

Heff said...

"Will I know it when it happens?"

I think so, and I think it will involve the Princess in the Olive-Green Volvo SUV.

Charles Gramlich said...

Writtenwyrd, Cool. Thanks very much. I'm really glad you liked it.

Middle ditch, I'm moody but a long way from every hurting myself because of that. So don't worry.

Heff, maybe I can take her out with me. That would definitely balance my sheets. With that single good deed I might even go straight to heaven.

laughingwolf said...

very poetic, this post, if a bit of a downer... but i know you will bounce back, charles

as for HOW it all ends? no clue....

Lana Gramlich said...

Next time you criticize my husband unfairly yer gonna git it I say!

laughingwolf said...

who you ranting at, lana?

Bernita said...

Charles, this is a lovely piece: the moveable cemetery, the wheeled coffins.

writtenwyrdd said...

If people react in a he-might-be-depressed/suicidal way to this piece of yours, Charles, I can now understand why my college prof pulled me aside to aske me point blank if I were depressed or suicidal. LOL. (And I wasn't.)

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, Lana is joking with me. She tells me all the time to stop insulting her husband. LOL. She takes care of me, even when I don't.

Lana, smoochies.

Bernita, thank you. I was hoping you'd like it.

Writtenwyrd, yes, I was feeling a bit melancholy when I wrote it, but not at a depressed level certainly.

laughingwolf said...

ok, thx... was getting some worried she was referring to me....

Mimi Lenox said...

Oh my word. This is beautifully written but not exactly what I expected when I came here today. "Drove through a cemetery sky the color of steel-wool this morning." Brilliant imagery, Charles.

You are a superb wordsmith. I was right there in the car with you. Excellent writing!

(But really...we all have those days. I hope you're ok, my friend.)

Mimi Lenox said...

I just read through your comments. Lana is seriously cracking me up.

CrazyCath said...

You write melancholy so well. I hope it is just a mood that will pass.
You won't be driving forever. Endlessly. I know that much. I do. ;0)

I have a new blog called Cath's Cradle and on it I have written a short story. I would truly appreciate your critique / feedback. It is the post entitled "Portrait of Words" and is a challenge set by Jeff at "A Word in Edgewise" - it is all explained at the post. Whenever you get time....
Thanks muchly.

Donnetta Lee said...

And this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper. (Gotta love old TS)

Sounds like that mood indigo. It hits when you aren't expecting it.

Donnetta

Vwriter said...

All right, Charles. Stop it. You're making me melancholy. Wonderful, wonderful description and mood setting.

Erik Donald France said...

Beautifully written, like some living dream of this mortal coil.

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, naw,

Mimi, Lana keeps me laughing all the time too.

CrazyCath, I'll check it out.

Donnetta, yes, I'm not sure where it comes from, but it sure does come.

Vwriter, thanks, I appreciate the good comments, even if they are melancholoy. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, wow, I don't know if it lived up to that line.

Barbara Martin said...

Yes, Charles, you will know when it's your time.

Perhaps you need to change radio stations, to something like classical. Although if they play too much Tchaikovsky...that can get a little dreary.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara Martin, I like some classical, but there is some of it that leaves me rather sleepy.

writtenwyrdd said...

I like moody, melancholy prose, Charles. Not for a steady diet, but sometimes it's just right.

ARCHAVIST said...

Just stumbled on this blog - think I'll become a regular reader. Have added you to my blogroll.

Demon Hunter said...

I've had melancholy days too, Charles. Take some CD's with you. On days like that, I pop in some Ozzy to add to the mood. :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

Writtenwyrd, it seems easier for me to write that kind of prose than the happy kind. Maybe that'll be a blog post.

archavist, I appreciate that. I'll hop over to visit your blog as well. Glad you liked the post.

Demon hunter, I've certainly got some Ozzy.

Miladysa said...

Written from the heart.

"Do you think there will be a moment when the music stops and I am caught in a world of gray amber, left to listen to gathering silence?"

Absolutely not!

Lauren said...

wow...that's awesome prose. I really like how the cars are all on the road but are apart.