— for John Miller
This was the great surprise. There was a forest of emotional, imaginal life that modern men were just waiting to enter.
— Michael Meade
We’ve been together two days and it shows. Nudged inward, helped to descend to this strange territory, we’re not the same group that came Friday night with our sleeping bags, drums, and trepidation to be among so many unknown men. Now I see my colleague Amnon struggling with his tears. He’s not the only one. Men attending to their lives! Layers of the hearts glow and tremble. Long withheld, grief rises and subsides, then unexpectedly engulfs us. The first night a grim-faced man brought his huge medieval broadsword to our group altar. He told us he’d been a “destructive warrior.” Tonight, in a choked whisper, he stood before the group again and offered that sword to the one man in the room he had feared all weekend — a slender, gentle, long-haired singer, almost a boy — who received the sword with tears, as astonished as the rest of us. The shocking innocence of what we fear! Men’s discovered feeling — not archaeology, but the living tribe. I’ve been asked to read a few poems. It’s time. I open my book and choose a poem I wrote long ago about a jazz clarinetist: he was so poor his teeth crumbled, his instrument broke, for years he couldn’t play; but then, with help, he started again startling and vital. And suddenly I realize I’m talking about myself, my own grief. I look out and see Amnon in the second row, tears on his cheeks, and I cannot read another line. In the presence of my brothers I stop and lower my head. I feel their affection, and I weep.