At the west edge of the prison is a chain link fence to which I was drawn, day after day, for a period of weeks. At this fence I can peer across a field at "the world," which lies about 200 yards away, and consists of two or three blocks of the little cowboy town of Florence. This is the town in which I officially reside, though I have seen none of it except this glimpse that presents itself through the fence.
One of my best pleasures is to gaze at the small houses in the final hour of day, when the daylight is dim and the houses dance and shimmer like fantasies, all the world that I can see, inexpressibly serene.
One day I saw two figures . . . a man and a woman. They were so far away that they were scarcely visible. They waved indistinctly, as if fashioned of air or water.
Beholding such tableaux -- the house, the onrushing darkness, the air that was daubed with peace, and the indistinct figures -- my heart gave a great bound. I felt that I knew the people. I felt that they and I were closely related, that we were passengers together in a vast and beautiful ship.
Suddenly I experienced a lovely moment of clarity. I understood just who it was that my eyes were truly beholding. More -- I knew who it was that the eyes of my soulm lighted upon, why it was that I was so keenly conscious of gazing upon life.
for of course it was Im in front of the small house, sitting on the stoop. Sitting next to me was my lifelong companion: she who has propped me up in my lamentable weakness, drained to the dregs my potions of defeat, and, with a child's pure joy, shared with me whatever thin triumphs have fallen my way.
If there is no man but Everyman, then how could the man that I behold be anyone other than myself? And if there is no time but the present (the past is finished, the future is but a dim conjecture), then I was gazing at a moment that belonged rightfully to us, everytime.
Since I'm no chauvinist, I assert that there is no woman except Everywoman. And so it follows in logic that it is my loved wife I behold, undulating in the distance as if she were made of hydrogen. The moment is ours,m hers and mine, to be shared with no one.
Even at this distance, I can see that she is very happy. And why not? For we are together. I, conversely, am weak in my mere manness; perhaps in the face of encroaching night I wrestle with waves of despair. This is because I fear that in the pitch blackness I shall create no poems, say no words, feel no joy of life, have no knowledge of my companion with whom I share the shadows.
But such thoughts are obliterated by the twilight, by the perceptions that tint my soul. For I understand that I am here.m She is here.m The evening is gentle and merciful without limitation. It is a fragile and splendid miracle.
The guard spoke quietly. It was as if he understood. With no sadness and no reluctance I turned away from a picture I have observed carefully.
I could at least extend a pledge to my love: you and I will share the twilight in spite of the efforts of all the earth to intervene. Our hands in that hour will be clasped, just as our destinies are joined in this fleeting moment of the present.