Letter from Matthew Gregory to Helen Gregory. The manuscript is undated
and unsigned. There is no envelope and thus no postmark or date. The letter
is handwritten and here transcribed. Delivered to Dr. Balis by Helen Gregory
on 8/22/96. Helen describes this as the most recent letter she has received
from Matthew, although it was hidden from her for a time by her husband
The letter follows:
Because I am the eyes, there are two things the darkness holds to her breast like the words I can't speak to Simon in the night. And, mother, there are things you know. Things which you have tried to tell me. Things of which, even in its immense vacuity, the night is ignorant.
But I was unable to hear you whispering through the fabric of curtains and the coiled profundity of time's desiccated ruins, the carnage of memory. I was unable to hear your dulcet voice murmuring across the ageless sea, maternal as the Earth herself.
I could not hear you, mother, because I am the eyes and your voice swallows all light. You are never to be seen, like the word "mother," caducous breath vanishing in the marriage of twilight and shadow. And even if I could have heard your canorous swallow song intimations, I'm not sure I would have listened. I'm not sure I would have wanted to contemplate the body's perplexing secrets.
But how was I to know the logic framing my mortal passage, relegated to the remotest cusp of lucidity? How was I to believe the night has fingers and teeth? How I was I to comprehend the stars' language?
How, mother, was I to know these things, when I can hear nothing but the sound of my own cogitation, the rupture of cartilage and gristle? And this cloak I wear myself, this costume of flesh? It is a crude machine the mirror mocks as it simultaneously seduces its own projection!
What does it mean to be the eyes when all the vicissitudinous landscape roils behind the scrim of its own mutability?
These eyes, mother. If only I might believe them.
But yet to trust the senses must "wrench awe from fools and tie the wiser souls to their false seeming." The world it seems becomes my words, as my words become my reading.
I must hide now, mother, even here in hiding. I have left England because I have done something no river could long enough conceal, but I'm okay and can still see well enough despite my cover. Studies are finished and all the words have been written which are not me. That which is me has yet to be written.
Simon speaks (when he speaks), and then he speaks of honor. I can't help remember things. Things about father.
"What is honor? A word."
But words are all I have! I am made of nothing else. Things I have heard before, many times, whispered in a dream-shadow.
"What is that honor? What is in that word honor? Air. A trim reckoning"
But air is what brings you to me these nights since I have quit dismissing your lay-me-down-to-sleepydream-by-the-sadsand-seasong as night's own darkest lullaby.
What is it, mother? Honor. Does the body hold it? The bones? Can one be honorable and yet ignore the cruel rules of nature? I am afraid.
I am so afraid of myself, and yet I remember. Do you? "A kingdom by the sea?" The soft sigh of your songs wafting away night's monstrous burden? Your fingers on the keys and heaven in your mouth as all my dream-language melted softly into one utopian vision.
I had a dream last night, or sometime soon I will have a dream. I am walking through the forest with someone like father, a weapon propped on my shoulder. We come to a giant tree felled by an explosion. The weapon I hold is an axe. The man who has no face, no distinguishable features, also holds an axe and we begin chopping. I am unable to chop. My axe-head causes no damage. I feel as if I'm being berated and insulted in great acrimonious streams of profanity though I can hear nothing. I understand that I must carry the man's chopped wood back to the car. I am otherwise worthless. Arms full, I march across the field, and as I'm marching and as I march, I begin to hear music. This surprises me because the dream has been otherwise silent. It is dark music, heavy somber organ chords rising. And then I hear drums. The drums grow louder as I march, stumbling, weak-kneed across the clotted earth and it becomes clear that what I am hearing are not drums, mother, but explosions and off in the distance I can see the glow of fires smoldering, columns of smoke rising into the sky and I and look down at what I am carrying. They are not logs. They are the bodies of children, naked and blackened. So I set them down on the earth. I am tired. And then it is over.
I think I am lost now, mother. And I think I have always been lost because I couldn't hear you. I couldn't read you. Something beneath the words. A watery feeling in the bones, blooming.
I am lost now.
I am lost and have been lost so long that now I can hear you but cannot remember.
But yet, I know you were telling me always with your fingers on the keys and on the strings. The nights spent backstage, watching the back of you. Synchronism of bows precisely driven.
And she by your side.
I could feel you two together then and now I think I understand. Now I know that was your way of telling me all the things that darkness doesn't know, or has forgotten.
Why have you stopped playing, mother? And why am I here? I think I am in some trouble, but "yeah to the dead," and farewell to honor.
"Can I feel it? No. Can I hear it? No. Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it, honor is a mere scutcheon."
I am now in hiding. I have left England. I live through my mother's tongue.
"And so ends my catechism."