Wild Geese know the season but do you, Mary Oliver?

April 2, 2015

Hand-crafted notes from an adulterous generation no. 2
[Flash Fiction]

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

“The American poetess, Mary Oliver, inspired Freddie by her poem, Wild Geese. He wrestled with it like Jacob wrestled with the angel…”

A heavy tear slid down Martha’s cheek, she paused and took a sip of water from a stainless steel bottle.

Martha looked over to the open casket with a black glossy piano finish. Her handsome brother lay peacefully with death. He had a face that reminded everyone of superman. It was the strong, square jaw.

“I remember the day Freddie first heard Oliver’s poem. Another student had read it in his junior year high school AP English class. He came home wildly excited. He could not praise the poem enough at dinner and then he read it – defiantly, enthusiastically, and proudly.”

Martha smiled and Freddie’s ex-husband, Roy Saul, sighed loudly in the front row as he removed his buffalo-hide, long coat.

Martha reminded Roy of Freddie. She and Freddie had the same dark brows and lashes. And full lips.

If only Martha were a man. He would go down on her…

Martha continued speaking.

“Some say Oliver’s words transformed Freddie. Or put him under an enchantment.

Not all at once. The apparent transformation from the outgoing, gorgeous, varsity jock that had nailed three prom queens to the soft-spoken, sensitive book worm and monkish lily gardener would unfold in due time. Freddie’s transformation, however, happened much later. By greater words than the words of a poet.”

Sitting two rows back from Roy, Louis Cohen, Freddie’s neighbor, a prayer warrior and Messianic Jew, gave a loud Hallelujah. He wore a pin on the lapel of his black suit jacket. “Repent” was written in silver.

“Freddie’s journey, however, was a long and dark journey. I can tell you this because we were very close. He shared everything in his heart with me. Just as I shared my heart with him.”

“That’s why I have to remember Freddie and share him with you as he is. For Freddy has not abandoned us and we shall see Freddie again. In glory and with a crown.”

Roy interrupted Martha with a loud, enthusiastic voice.

“Freddie was handsome, stylish, intelligent, funny, charming and well endowed!”

Martha was not going to let Roy dominate the moment…

“Yes, Freddie was all that. And you’ll get a chance to share your memory with us after I have spoken, Roy.

But Freddie was also lonely. He felt rejected. He had lost trust in people. Freddie had lived in a place of fear, sorrow, despair, anger, grudge and hate.”

“If he had taken the Xanax and Valium I used to deal to him, he would have felt so much better,” shouted Roy from his pew.

Roy stood up – slender, ripped and glorious in his custom-fitted white suit. He turned to the friends and family sitting behind him.

“Freddie wanted to go clean. Whatever that means, right? Honestly, it didn’t help him.

‘Clean’ made Freddie morbid and serious. How boring is that!”

“And that’s why you cheated on him and broke his heart,” Martha asked Roy.

“That’s why you had brought six lovers (on different occassions) into the same bedroom that you shared with Freddie – thinking that Freddie wouldn’t come in from the garden and find you taking pleasure with someone else.

Or if he did (which he did) that it wouldn’t break his heart.

As if he didn’t long for true things, for true love and for your goodness.

Or will you say that Freddie is not entitled to these things? That none are entitled?”
Roy turned around. He was almost embarrassed by Rachel’s public accusation and sat down.
What the fuck does she know about things. She’s not gay. She doesn’t know how we feel.
Roy turned possible replies to Martha over in his mind.

Martha was not going to have the last word on things. She didn’t know shit. She lost her husband to another woman. She had stage three breast cancer and two kids with heroine addictions. What the fuck did Martha know about anything!

… 

Tears streamed from Martha’s blue eyes.

“We’re here to honor our Freddie and share our love for him.

And to love Freddie is to want to know him.”

Looking around, Roy’s eyes locked with the eyes of another man who sat across the aisle from him – a hot, new date. Roy felt excited, warm and tingely in all the right places.

Martha continued.

“Freddy walked in darkness for most of his life. He walked in dry places where there was no rest.”

Martha’s tears increased.

“However, Freddy was transformed and he found freedom at last – a peace and joy which I am…

… still trying to understand.

Freddie discovered that life was more than him. That it was more than himself. That freedom was being free from him. From his unending search for self-pleasure and self-amusement.

Freddie had discovered that his hunger, loneliness and pain could be healed by God. When he lived out the word of God. And, expeditiously, by being a gift. For we are made wonderfully. By helping others do good. Helping them to be good.”

Martha had difficulty speaking.

“When I was driving Freddie to the hospital…

and he was bleeding all over the car.

He put his hand over my right hand as it lay on the steering wheel.

He. Said.

He. Was. Happy.

Because. Finally. Finally. HE. WAS. GOOD.

Jesus. Had. Justified. Him. And. Made. Him. Righteous.”

Martha was quiet for a moment. She took a deep breath.
“And then Freddie closed his eyes as he recited his reply to Mary Oliver.

And this is what he said.

Before he died in my arms – on the shoulder of I95…

‘Wild Geese know the season but do you?

You do not have to be good;
you do not have to be made complete and know joy
and to receive God’s blessing.
You can be a tare – torn, cursed, worn and thirsting,
cursing the day you were born;
blasphemies rolling off of your swelling tongue.
Meanwhile, the stars still rejoice –
each was counted and named.

You can be fiercely free, flung,
undone, like glowing coals, hurling, burning brightly
and bearing down, angrily,
equally upon neighbor, lover, enemy,
family, even stranger
for little birds have made wicked nests in your heart.
Meanwhile, the Leviathan
shakes his square beard with laughter.

You made them yours, your flesh, who you are, set apart,
these fiery darts – like treasure.
Precious. As powerful as any addiction.
… 
Rebellion and rejection,
pride, prejudice and self-seeking pleasure?! Repent!
Repent. The Kingdom is near.

Where are the mighty buffalo?
Where, the buffalo hunters?
The bee and the butterfly?!
Were their gods but idols too?
Nearer. Now, in fact. Hereto.
Due are the rents, praise, thanks and living sacrifice.
Notice rolls down like thunder.

Meanwhile the whole world shudders
with shame for the lawless things;
the hearts of men grow colder
while their hands profit evil.
No moon lit garden, no goose,
no mossy rock nor shall poetry
redeem our depravity.

finis


Stan Faryna

2 April 2015
Fairfax, Virginia