I will tell everyone about it, early in the morning. I will walk across the street to the garden and I will mourn the missing tree. They said it would hurt people, but I never believed it. All it did was hold strings of lights and the artwork of children. It had no malicious intent whatsoever. If I was back across the sea or in the farmland in this country, I would wait for the cock to belt out his song. Everywhere there are warnings, and nowhere is there isolation, not outside, not here. It is a city. It may be The City. If I stand at an intersection while the cock is not crowing, I will see someone walking towards me, or away from me, or stationary along the way. And I will tell them if they ask about the war we are fighting.
Someone is going to get it. Probably multiple someones. Because people cannot live like I do anymore, like any of us do. They think we will consume ourselves and fade away. We can only prove them wrong by consuming them first. The pressure is to be original. Not to learn from history but to be certain not to repeat it. To surpass expectation. Or at least to confound it. If you deny art, then you are the enemy. There are many enemies.
She lived a couple of streets west, they both did. I only met him a couple of times, but they all just called her by her last name anyway. Morden. She lived on the top floor and rented the rest of it out for artists, a strange place. The rooms were all too small for bedrooms, but that was because people built walls out of bookcases between them, for a little privacy. A couple of famous artists overdosed on cheap pills there, just never woke up. But some of the ones who lived made some of the most important work. I know what art means to me. It means never being alone, communing with people you will probably never meet. Hopefully never meet, in most cases. She was surrounded by ghosts all the time, they outnumbered the living artists by many. He was away all the time and then just never came back, so she wore black and we called her the widow. She was incredibly beautiful in the old pictures. Somewhere between art and pornography. We should all be so lucky to find that space.
There was music all throughout that house. Loud, soft, aggressive, pastoral. If you could find the right place in the stairwell, you could hear a symphony. Someone said Ives was inspired by knowing her, but that did not make sense.
I think of you as a person who I have never met who will one day receive this art. I will be sorry that we did not have more conversations. I would have wanted to run with you along the water and then collapse in the big room on the top floor of the Widow’s apartments, where you could hear everything all at once. I would want us to fall asleep together, to have the best odds of sharing our dreams. Then you could learn what fear looks like in a faraway land and how it is the artists who will beat that fear back down. In a culture war, the revolutionaries are all artists and aficionados. They make taste because it makes them feel good. Or feel right, which is sometimes not very good at all.
We are friends, you know. We share a common kinship, and with each next word you read, we grow a bit closer. Together we are more handsome than we could have imagined alone. You will finish the war. If we are both lucky, I will be somewhere else, fighting on another front. The only people who do not belong are those who unduly harm. Never forget it. The rest will fall into place. The Widow would say: “Just keep practicing.” We will do that, but we will perform, too.