Before the Sun Rises

She pulled her chair slightly closer to the large, empty desk in front of her.  “Drink,” she said, “but do not become drunk.  Become drunk, but do not go to bed before the sun rises.  Go to bed before the sun rises, but do not sleep with the woman who sits with you in the quietest room at the party.  Sleep with her, but do not touch…   Hold her hand, but do not say goodbye.  Say goodbye, but do not set a date for your return…  Travel far, far away, but do not move your home.  Move your home, but do not cry.  Cry, but do not forget to plant your feet…

“Make love to her, but do not come.  Come, but do not sleep…  Sleep, but do not dream.  Dream, but do not ask impossible questions.  Ask impossible questions, but ask them only of your imagination…

“In the morning, you may set to work…but do not sign a contract.  Sign a contract, but do not lose your courage…  Lose your courage, but do not believe in anything in its absence.  Believe in something in the absence of your courage, but do not bow down before it.  Bow down before it, but do not stake your life…  Stake your life, but then do not take care to save it.

“Do not become precious!  Rather, throw things into the air, fling them upward, as an offering…  But do not break them.  Catch them again before their flight is ended.”

Her mood changed.  “No!” she shouted, “Lies! Lies! Destroy everything!  Yes, destroy everything!  Let everything fall, and shatter!”

She laughed out loud, and said, “Yes, dance, dance on the shattered pieces…but do not burn the debris.  Oh, but Yes!  Yes!  Burn the debris, burn down the room, burn down the house, burn down the building…burn down the city…  Burn everything!”

Her brow furrowed; she became self-aware.  “Burn everything, yes…but do not hold resentments.  Hold your resentments, but do not become violent.”  Then she waited.  Almost whispering, she said, “Become violent, but only when you dance…”  She was silent for a moment; she took a breath.

“Build a house” she said, “but then give it away as shelter…”  She looked at him for a long time.

“Do you understand?” she asked, staring, “Consummate nothing.  You must be intoxicated with desire.  And you must consummate nothing…  Then you may begin.”

I sat still…  I waited.


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