AURORA MY LOVE by David Arthur Walters
Love, though for this you riddle me with darts, And drag me at your chariot until I die, – Oh, heavy prince! Oh, panderer of hearts! – Yet hear me tell how in their throats they lie Who shout you mighty: thick about my hair Day in, day out, your ominous arrows purr, Who still am free, unto no querulous care A fool, and in no temple worshiper! I, that have bared me to your quiver’s fire, Lifted my face into its puny rain, Do wreath you Impotent to Evoke Desire As you are Powerless to Elicit Pain! (Now will the god, for blasphemy so brave, Punish me surely, with the shaft I crave!) – Edna St. Vincent Millay –
We speak of the power of love. What is love? Love is life. Whose life do we love most of all? We love our own lives most of all, and so selfishly do we love them that we might identify life with ways of living and destroy the world with us in it to save our lifestyles.
“Man knows that there is such a thing as love,” averred Emanuel Swedenborg, “but he does not know what love is. He knows there is such a thing from common discourse … when it is said that a man loves this or that. But although the term love is thus universally applied in conversation, still there is scarcely any one that knows what love is.”
My beloved blue-eyed and blonde Aurora abandoned me, wrecking my lifestyle. She drove away one snowy morning in her red pickup truck, never to return. The last I saw of her presence was the cloud of white exhaust behind her truck. I sent her a birthday gift, a handmade knife with handle elegantly carved from walrus penis and inscribed, “Love Forever”, but it was too late to pierce her heart. She had married the wealthiest man in town, her lawyer, a prominent neoconservative Republican, on her birthday. No doubt she was happy with him until he started beating her. The nurse I am presently dating attended to her in Intensive Care. No charges were brought against him. I recalled how she had once turned to me and said, ever so sweetly, “Honey, do you love me? Wouldn’t you like to hit me?”
I wanted Aurora to miss me as much as I missed her, to be as miserable over our parting as I was. So whom did I really love? I loved myself mostly. Well, sometimes I loved Aurora almost as much as myself, because somehow she was just like me, albeit a foot shorter and female. But what is love? Love is my life, or yours, if you so please.
“Love is his very life, not only the common life of his whole body and of all his thoughts, but also the life of all their particulars. A wise man may perceive this from the consideration, that if the affection of love be removed, he is incapable of thinking and acting.”
I boiled in my own blood after Aurora was spotted landing the lawyer’s Cessna and necking with him at the airstrip. I thought of nothing else for quite awhile. I most certainly loved her – I could not deny that intense longing of mine. I loved her so much that I thought I could not live without her. I suffered unbearably from her absence, as if I had just been run through with a red-hot iron. If it were not for my suffering self, she would have been my worst enemy.
“Love therefore is the heat of the life of man, or his vital heat. The heat of the blood, and also its redness, are from this source alone. The fire of the angelic sun, which is pure love, produces this effect.”
In fact, my fervid poems, consigned to the fireplace long ago, demonstrated that she was my whole kit and caboodle. I admired her gumption, but was afraid of it too. Her first abusive husband had pistol whipped her in Fairbanks one night. After he fell asleep, she blew his head half off with two shot gun blasts at close range. I met her at the courthouse cafeteria in Anchorage; it was love at first sight, so I asked her to go bowling with me, and she accepted. The lawyer she married after she left me got her off the murder charge. She became my anchorage in Anchorage, and I believed I was hers when I embraced her time and again. But something else was going on, and she forsook me.
Should I have stalked her down and recovered my world by destroying it with me in it, that no one else might have had what I loved to hate, the very pain of our separation? No, for after due consideration of whom I loved most of all, I knew she was not everything, not at all, nor did she feel my pain. I could not, in all honesty, be so absurd as to forever ruin the world, for I am the world, as far as I know, and the world, before all, must persist, must survive all who walk upon it, for that is its nature. And now my world has many potential lovers, which makes my love all the more interesting.
She was not my life, really, nor, as it turned out, was she its best friend. If it had not been for my true love, my saving grace, namely my life, the memory of her might have been my worst enemy unto death, and I might have gotten my friend’s assault rifle and the dynamite from the quarry and visited the lawyer’s estate.
O, how the cosmos defined her countenance when she ventured forth from the cave by the moon! And I bore witness to same. She animated my existence with her powdered face, her dark eye shadow, twinkling earrings and starry crown. I was the main attraction, or so I thought, about whom she would forever orbit.
Somehow the world got in the way. I could not see myself in my shadow. She spun out of control behind my back. I am no longer the man in the moon. I had only myself to blame for the consequences, for my regrets. I made myself miserable and I called my misery love. Why did I make myself miserable?
I don’t blame her at all, not anymore, for I have come back around again, to love the world that I am, the world that is my life. And now I can no longer remember her face, although I recall the cosmetics.
Again, lest I forget myself and play the fool again: What did I actually love the most? An honest answer is called for, if I would be true to my self. My true love was my very life. I thought I needed another life, part friend, part foe, hopefully the former more than the latter, to love my life, but I loved it all along, therefore I did not have to go downtown to destroy the world to save it.
Now I am glad she left, for her departure proves our differences and reveals the nature of my love. I loved her because our differences defined me, my true love, and that is why I shall love another as well as her or even the more so. If I were identical to the contingent object of my love, if I had been at one with her, I would have had no identity of my own – I surely would not have been as I was without her resistance, and there would have been nothing left to love. Seeking omnipotence in the bliss of irresponsible ignorance, we might have died in fatal embrace, we might have taken each other with us, and nothing would have remained of our existence for us to love.
At last I mentally bade her well: “Fare thee well, Northern belle.” I had loved her well in the pain of our parting, for I loved my own misery, the misery of the self that dared to extend its love to another. There may or may not be others for me, but all shall be well as long as the difference between us remains, for the individual would persist forever, if only it could, even beyond the grave, for love is its life.
Have faith in yourself, for you can live better without the lover who takes flight, or the lover from whom you might fly. If you understand and accept whom you really love, and fly from love to love for love’s sake, you will have as many lovers as you please, and one might unexpectedly stay, much to your delight. Even when you happen to be home alone, you may love the one whom you love most of all, and rejoice in your life.
Emanuel Swedenborg, Delitiae Sapientiae de Amore Conjugiali post quas sequutur Voluptates Insaniae de Amore Scortatorio – ‘The Delights of Wisdom of Conjugal Love; to which is added the Pleasures of Insanity of Scortatory Love’ (1768)