Not Getting Closer by Jack Gilbert
I have been off the track for awhile. Two weeks, almost. No, not off the track. Derailed, it seems like. On some days they are almost the same. I can’t seem to find the energy—or desire—to find my way back.
No, that’s not true. On some days I want so badly to get back to what once was, but I also find myself asking, what was that? On some nights the answer is simple: the day before. The weeks before. Or just: before.
I almost envy people who know who they are. The certainty of what they want, of what they will do, today, tomorrow. They knew who they were yesterday. Now. Isn’t that precious? I’ll ask, who are you? You’ll say, me. Just me.
I am never just me, these days.
I woke up this morning saying, I’ll do this, but I didn’t. I went to bed last night thinking, I will do it, I swear, but today I didn’t. Again.
I want to know what happened. No, that’s not true. I know what happened. But why. That’s what I don’t understand. There’s this space where everything should be but I see nothing, feel nothing.
It’s funny; it all started with a simple thing. I had it, my future, and I saw myself there, for once, finally. And I worked towards that. Months, weeks, days. Then one day it was just gone.
I feel myself fading again. Meant for the sea—I used to say that.
Today there is no sea. I am in the middle of fucking nowhere and I don’t even have the comfort of water to sink into. Dry, everywhere. Everything. Chafing.
N. told me once, it gets heavy, after talking with you. After our conversations.
I suppose I go through life now feeling sorry about it. I try to keep my mouth shut. I am sorry. But sometimes not sorry enough, maybe. I suppose this is why I have this.
Last May I said, I am changing, and I really believed that I was. Now I can’t find that part of myself again and I think I am destroying all the work I’ve put through to get there. Here. Wherever this is. Hah, she’s lost, the fool—you’re probably thinking this. I might agree. This is also probably why a part of me says that I have to fight it—fight for it—whichever is true.
It’s a relapse, says a voice in my head. You’ll get over it. However, this is the longest that it’s ever been. I’m letting things slide. The part of me that is looking out for my survival says that this has got to stop. The longer it happens the more difficult it would be to fix it. If we can fix it, another voice whispers.
Oh, you should be fine with it. You’ve been here before. You’re used to the sadness and the aching and it’s not as if you didn’t live through them, because you did. They’re like shadows. Second skin. Bones that hold yourself in. So you didn’t survive your first encounter with happiness. So what. There is a life you knew before, you still have that. You can go back.
But I don’t want to. The part of me that wants to fight shouts this over and over, I don’t want to. Forward—that’s where I want to be. I was so close. For awhile there, it felt really good. I want that. I want that now. But how to get there again? And who the fuck said I was ready for that anyway, and then leaves me at the first sign of resistance?
It’s not the end of the world, says A. I know, I said. And isn’t that what’s disgusting? To know that the world goes on but you can’t keep up. At least, not today.
Anchors, now. I am trying to save myself but don’t know yet how long it will take.
Not Getting Closer
Walking in the dark streets of Seoul
under the almost full moon.
Lost for the last two hours.
Finishing a loaf of bread
and worried about the curfew.
I have not spoken for three days
and I am thinking, “Why not just
settle for love? Why not just
settle for love instead?”