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Love and estrangement

Author: joe

Monday, 01 November, 2010 - 19:12

- on being a loving man

A motherly voice sings:

I wish that you were here
Running round my heels
Only you and I know
How this lonely feels
I never fell in love
The way that I love you
But father, brother, son's
Too much for any man to do
So you fly and you fly, fly away
So you fly and you fly, fly away
I'd keep you with me still
Even though I know
Nothing's worth the holding
If you can't let go
I spend my nights alone
Or in drunken company
That's the only medicine
That's left for me
Till I fly, till I fly, fly away
Till I fly, till I fly, fly away
I need to have something
That money cannot buy
But even children know
That only angels fly
All these wasted years
I never have been sure
When to ask for less
And when to beg for more
Will I fly, will I fly, fly away?
Will I fly, will I fly, fly away?
I'll fly away
I'll fly away
The Way I Love You by Linda Thompson

Wandering out of the ambiguity of this song emerges a woman whose son grew up and outgrew the mother/boy bond that is, at least for a while, the whole of the world, to the exclusion of all else. I hear the song introduced by a male voice hiding a background story of bereavement, mourning an estranged mother behind an ambiguous, partial telling. The ambiguities work their magic in the ears of a man struggling to love the way that fathers, lovers, brothers and sons love - is it possible to be all of these lovers, at the same time, and to love well?

There is no pain like the pain of estrangement - or perhaps, all pain is estrangement. In the love between a mother and a son, no other love will ever come above or before it, but in time, sure as death, the world gets in its way and pushes itself between them. I can't imagine what medicine heals the pushing apart, but I am all too used to the kind of love that carries with it its own melancholy. Love with a consciousness of its own ending, a mind with knowledge of its own demise, a day that knows its night is coming. Like returning after many years to a old town that you know so well but in which you are now a stranger, or recognising that leavings you made and thought were graceful exits were hack-and-slash sprees, or like realising the alternate endings you chose were cataclysms for universes you didn't know existed, you see the world with uncomprehending ears and eyes: the strangers' words are unintelligible, the gestures foreign, the faces blank, the space void - you have been cut off, an amputation, meat.

So then, how much more miraculous to love without melancholy! Love that doesn't think, or know anything, that is lost in being, rather than contemplating its demise. Not a divided thing, split, reflecting, speaking - just being, humming, everywhere, a god, absolute. I want to say a love to be lost in, but that wrongly implies wanting to be found. A love so unthinking it is stupid, brainless, foggy, blind - but these words mean more than they seem to say: numb, stunned, instant, immediate, enveloping, eclipsed, oblivious.

I don't know how to love all the loves a man should love - father, lover, brother, son. Some loves are those we do - we love a love like man speaks language, imperfectly, with melancholy, estranged. But then, language also speaks man, and some loves are loves which do us - love loves my love, which is as close as I can get to writing what love does. What does that love do? Love loves. A love loves us.

Categories: love, estrangement, melancholy, Linda Thompson,
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