The Ancient Modern
Honesty / Joshua Alan Sturgill
When I heard you had married the woman with the long,
dark hair, the serene smile and the strong arms we’d
both dreamed of when we were boys, I went to see you.
And I asked, “how’s it going?” And you said, “She’s quiet.
She spends her money on practical things. She spends
her time gently—arranging flowers and reading books
I don’t understand. I never know what she wants
in the afternoon. But every morning, she wants
to make love while the sun is rising. She is insistent, but
mute, almost desperate—and only her grasp, how her breath
intensifies, or I wouldn’t know—well, I wouldn’t know…”
And your voice failed. And we were thoughtful for a moment.
“Are you happy?” I asked. You said, “That’s not the right
question. I guess I don’t need to be happy. I’m leaving
happiness for something more profound. She’s teaching me
something I can’t quite describe. Simplicity in routine?
Freedom to observe without forming an opinion? I’m not sure.
But it’s like an elected blindness to everything but the moment’s
experience—like a body’s weight or its textures at every—well,
at everywhere.” Then, you said, “touch ahead of sight,” and you
smiled a beautiful smile I hadn’t seen before. An honest smile,
childishly wise. It was her smile, handsome on your face. And
though I envied your honest smile, I could never have it. Honesty
requires gentleness, and many mornings of intimate silence.