Rowboat: an answer to the image by Alex Katz (GASP 2017).

I went down to the river to pray…

 

September the 11th, 2001.

 

You remember.

 

You know - you can touch- how you felt on September the 11th.

 

Now.

 

Think about how you felt on September the 12th.

 

Wake up. 

It was all real. 

Get up. 

The numb sickness of a new reality dawning- 

it was all real. 

 

But the sun insisted on rising and your lungs insisted on breathing and you could not say why. 

Because it should not be. 

The world had ended- yesterday. 

Hadn’t it ended?

 

Now. 

 

Think about feeling that way every minute of every day without escape. Laughter that sounds false and distant- like someone else laughing in another room.

 

And you know why people do it. 

Why they stop living. 

Whether they are dead or not.

 

I need sleep. 

Restful. 

Sleep without dreams.

 

In dreams:

 

I am lost…somewhere…and the emptiness takes me over…my stomach disappears and there’s just endless, empty space…black…dotted with distant stars…tiny and cold…their fires holding no warmth. 

No hope of warmth.

 

Wake up. 

Again. 

Get up. 

Again. 

Open the blinds and sit in the brilliant, screen-filtered sunlight. 

Sit very still. 

Wait.

 

Sometimes I feel like if I sit very still in one spot without moving for a very long time, I will fade into the air and all that will remain is a faint chill. 

A stain on the atmosphere that was me.

 

Very still…the way the eye of a tornado must feel…just before it slams down and sweeps your house away.

 

And always. 

Always the lack of air for me to breathe.

 

I row out until I can no longer see shore. 

It is quiet. 

Still. 

Very still. 

But here, no tornado comes to sweep my house away. 

Here it is only silence.

And calm. 

 

Sit very still for a very long time. 

Wait.

Faint breeze.

Cool, clean. 

Flowing easily into my hungry lungs.

Air. 

I can breathe here.

I can breathe.

 

Perhaps the air here is different.

 

Perhaps I am different.

 

Perhaps this place- 

this “non-place” -

soothes the fever of an unquiet mind. 

 

Perhaps this place- 

this “non-place”- 

is sacred.

Sanctuary. 

 

It is different here. 

 

Here, I sit still for a very long time, but the universe feels less wrong. 

The air feeds my lungs and I sit.

The day darkens to night and I sit. 

Very still. 

 

And the stars that begin to appear do not seem so distant. 

Their light suggests a warmth that I had not perceived before. 

This warmth. 

This air.

This is that what peace feels like.

And this: 

THIS is enough.