We speak, mincingly, of Names as if we could be bullied into them, as if labels were coercive. We are now on this subject, showing ourselves to be pleasant petulants, mild mendicants, such benign bums. If God could spare a Name for a cup of coffee we would not blush to ask him for it, we are bloodless in our need.
So, we speak of Petra, as if to say here is a subject more pleasant. Beware her: she is everything scrubbed and energetic, as though the maid had left her starched and ready at the foot of our beds, ready for a day at the beach. Her strength is that she does not equivocate, does not shrink from the crystallization of the Naming tongue. Inherency is her gift, and in the beginning, her Logos:
1. Flint. Crackling like sugar pastry, aspark with interest. Cro-Magnon man may have conceived of her such, may have seen in her his own nature, sharpened, the inchoate passion of his genius lasered—the first wobbly wheel, the first ablative absolute. She is, indeed most definite in the ablative: vivo petra, pacem petiverunt.
2. Granite. Iron and gold in rough stone, cemented in cheerful certainty. Do not be deceived, however, that there is no join, no seam. She is made forever flexible by doubt, can stand among the warping winds. Consider, then, the sillies of the field, and know that she toils, grinding step upon step. She is—as all things are—astride eons, but she—unlike all things—plays the Stockholm Syndrome on seconds.
3. Marble, and schist. Everything fine, everything robust, until the world splits at its corners to make room to include her; pebbles and pillars, parkbenches and priories! Queen and Quasimodo, as we all are, as we all are.
Upon these rocks will we build our kingdom. —
(how dangerous that man was! It is no wonder that the Pharisees looked askance: vulpine, ferrety, erminine. No one ever dropped a pun prudishly) —
Queen Zippergut. Judith, draped in golden silks. Upon closer examination we see it is her own blood, not Holofernes’, that enriches the weave. This, the secret of her rule: sympathy. How rare the tenor of this tone, the viol and the harp!—lost but for a few in this country of chatterers. How rare, too, to sway the hearts about you by stringing out your own intestines, a clever sewing of heart to heart to stomach to sex with this living, blood-rich thread. Generations will, with no reluctance of knee, arise and call her blessed.
Ginsberg. Adrift in a sea that stings and swoons and stirs him, he is always more than he seems to be, a cool crag above the slurry. He skims the sour surface, in hunt for the canny Titanic. He will bring her down one day, swamp her with his spirits, and we will watch and say, “Oh, how the mighty have fallen!” He is our David, our Absalom. We sing in rough iambs that we would God to have died for him, sing we wished to have made complaint to comfort his shaking upon the shifting Jacobean ladder.
Edgy Killer Bunny. Long and leanspeaking, his observation exact, acerbic. The gift of his hands to take the low mean truth of the world and turn it again cuddly and kind, fit for a child’s bed, and a brothel’s. Who does he slay but those soldiers who walk the line between those who are not for us are against us and those who are not against us are for us? The coney, we remind ourselves, is kosher.
Our Lady Jane. Would she have taken the brocades we threw at her as rebuke? Never. Had she seen we crafted for her a silk noose with our critiques? She had. Did she wear these richly-woven tapestries when we bid her to? She did not. She is a simple girl in a white shift, poised eternally with one foot over an open dress. So attired, she could feel each princess-pea lobbed at her, could keep her wary eyes awake. All the better, my dear, to see you with—and eat you with, too.
Weed. To be as noble as a million stalks, to be ever on the edge between Van Gogh's aureate hills and the stickly sweet rank of the unchristened “cool”! Do we dare write the mystery of his life, its utter triumph, its utter misery? Who, we ask you, could bear the register? How the outside world howls to place him, to root him up from his cool green garden with its granite walls! His lesson: Master the Name and the world cannot touch you, cannot break you from the hearth you hallow out of insistence. This, the two-line poem of him—Behold, he is brave. Stand, and bear witness.
Sir Jupiter. If it were enough to be the universe’s greatest sphere, he has not recognized it. The active word of this century, then—privatize. He has a mastery of sale-floor salvation in its genuine article, gracious and granting. To add this nobility to nascence is to be born in Bethlehem, to be shifting and colorful with one red eye. What immortal storm can frame that awful seeing, Blake frets in a dim corner, what dares shrink from the searchlight’s gaze? He is enough, enough, and more than enough to cause our spines to straighten, to still our unrighteous spleen.
It is, perhaps, time to admit that none of us fully new what Men think, what Men want. But we are willing to try, to find, to seek. We can chop liver (an ugly swan, his vital organs strewn upon the board, searching for Caesar’s ides), we can mask cures, we can prate over co-meants. Just this one thing we cannot do, we cannot stay silent, cleaving our lips together.
For—if we were to try, heaven help us—the very stones would cry out.