But instead: “He’s a fucking idiot. The whole church. Down the fucking tubes! What else was I supposed to do?! Pet his robes??”
It’s not in his character—the crepuscular man, teetering on senility with a hat bent too far forward and a monocle that hangs limply over his bulbous stomach. But being a character is for youth. The old find other ways. Like alcohol.
I mean, saying it blandly, it’s not what Gibran would do when he was more of a man. He’d talk once of love in florid licks and jabs, having nothing at all to do with reality but the wish for things. And every man has wishes, and every man wishes, and that’s what men do. But older men in their twilight have better things to set themselves doing. Worrying about death, for instance.
And so, in his hollowed-out den of a home, Gibran has chased the rainbows of the human heart. But gold is all that lurked at their end points; and gold is nothing more than a distraction. Still, he’s written tomes and people read with relish. Because they, too, wish. So he kept writing, and feeding the adventure. Until, at this last point, his sackcloth Van Heusen button-up laid upon with coffee stains, he leans on old desks and laments himself.
The only consolation, being a man of din-in-the-head, is to think of high-blooded princes who’ve lost the appetite for practical love. And he thinks on all the world’s royalty, this broken Gibran, and he thinks on vagabond kings, this dilapidated man, and he thinks on the Pope. For so high up, Pius XI, too, must sit at desks and weep.
But weep in robes, ironically, weep according to the unsatisfied. How high, how set upon a dais, he is. And men of palaces, whatever their ilk, are not so unrelated to the writer crop. They are dreamers who scowl at the brusqueness of life and who would rather stain their lives with happy-go-lucky than be done up by inexpectation and desperation. Which is why that great great Gibran is now not so great. But harrowed and hallowed in the hallow of his home.
And why he dreams, finally at 48, of puppet popes who cry out in horror the day they see the light is fading. And why Pius XI is dead and buried and gone.
Still, we read Khalil in his soreness and not the faded pontiff. We read:
“When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.”
And we set our heads upon desks and resign ourselves to brittle madness. And pain. We are done with life, anyway. And rainbows will continue though our breathing probably will not.