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Dusk 

I write with perjured quill.

I write with perjured quill.
Michelangelo, circa 1534

I lived my life in twilight, in the gloaming, in a secret, shaded glen.
Before long, the philosophers taught me that
the world is so veiled in mists as to be unintelligible.
So I made twilight my preceptor.
Not for me the truculent sun, no Icarus I.
Even in the balmy tropics, astride Singapore,
I clung to the fading light of red and indigo sunsets
that drenched Hindu temples and the perfumed blossoms on Serangoon Road.
Yes, I was ever an Act II man,
a creature of ambiguity, agnosticism, ineluctable inconclusiveness.
Little was resolved, few final verdicts were returned,
convicted as I was by my own weak will.
Questions, suspicions, intrigues prevailed in my dusky soul,
twisted as a coil.
I was devoid of the definitive and lived my life in the shadows,
daring to risk only ghost-like movements.
A writer, I was ever a creature of words, not acts.
My life inches on to the slow elegy of Faure's Pavane,
everything slightly out of reach, especially love, ungraspable.
My vagueness repelled others, of course.
I was a study in animated suspension and few people can bear uncertainty.
Willingly and willfully, I was the spy who stayed out in the cold.
My kin, de la Bretonne, called us scribblers,
a race of spies, wordsmiths who don't participate or form bonds.
Neither leaders nor followers, we: a curious lot.
Restless, ravenous voyeurs, purveyors of confusion.
That surprises you?!
You thought scribes and scrawlers were clarifiers, crystallizers?
Just whom do you take spies to be?
Moral philosophers?
We're moral phantoms, the uncommitted, those who never enter the arena.
We're just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards.
You know: little men--
drunkards, bankers, adulterers, car salesmen,
misanthropes who despise the moronic masses.
I am barren, a Casaubon, an empty womb.
I took for my spouse dusk, cook smoke, blue haze, plaintive fog,
cold astonished fatality, the dying day.
Life untrusted is life forsaken.
I bow on bended knee to this philosophy:
we are riddles wrapped in mysteries inside enigmas.

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Paul Mann

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