Twilight House - Oil on Canvas - Chuck Connelly

Inner Guidance

...lost musician inside

Tysa Goodrich

The door is locked. I can't get in. Once again I realize this isn't going to be easy. I have struggled to enter this house before, with its thick-wooded plank that bolts itself against me, the archway supporting a massive door with ironclad hinges, and an old padlock I invariably have to break. I will again need to search the unkempt grounds for the sledgehammer. Many nights I have wandered here, desirous, poised for ignition, hoping for inspiration. But I have to enter the house. That's what I have to do.

The air is always brisk, like October. A sudden wind rustles tenuous piles of fallen leaves underneath half-naked oaks. When I turn to look for the sledgehammer, all I can see is swirling funnels of the dry, crumpled carcasses momentarily illuminated by the last crimson beams of sunset. One leaf picks up the next, and the next, and a circular parade feeds into another, and I am surrounded by an emotional whirlwind, unable to follow the trail of a single leaf. It's like watching the hands of a street hustler who passes three cups over a red stone. It's beyond eyes' comprehension. Your vision cannot adjust to the blurring vessel that holds your treasure. You can't see time. It doesn't exist.

Despite my dizzying hunt, I am able to smoke out the sledgehammer buried under a heap of leaves that have swooped under the front porch. I guess that's where I haphazardly discarded the heavy tool the last time I was here. I always tell myself I won't need to use it again, and always, I am glad to get rid of it. I retrieve the sledgehammer. There are rust crawlers on the loosening iron head, and the wooden handle is splintered by years of weathering.

The screen door to the front porch only requires a hard tug on its rusty knob, and the thing falls flat at my feet. From here I am able to enter an outer foyer, with its wide, dimly-lit corridor. It beckons me without resistance. Inside this narrow anteroom I have fooled myself more times than the stories I can tell, thinking I have found the key to profound connection. This is the trick of the outer foyer. It makes you think you have entered the house. In here I am delirious with delusion, thinking I have reached the pinnacle of my genius when I haven't even gotten past the arched plank over that fucking door that stands between me and my access to what's inside me, to that internal flame beyond reason.

So here I am, standing in the dark foyer. It's cold and mysterious. Maybe not so mysterious. Here is where I pace back and forth, like through my life, mostly walking into walls. A labyrinth without an exit. Death, the only escape.

I raise the sledgehammer high and cast a mighty blow to the iron padlock on the main door of my house. It doesn't budge. It takes five more discordant whacks to break open the lock. Yet the door still won't open. I know what to do… I think. I just hope the hammerhead doesn't dislodge itself and knock my head off.

Fourteen blows to the door before it finally creaks open. I'm sweating now.

I enter the house, hoping this time I can stay for awhile. Before me lies a richly hued runner carpet. It leads to a mahogany banister that threads up the north wall. Vertical support rods cast ribbed shadows along the stairwell. Their distorted lines over ascending blocks bend space like a Picasso painting.

At the base of the stairs, a set of double doors opens to a sunroom circumscribed by stained-glass windows, each window revealing, through its one clear-paned portal, the overgrown garden out back. If I make it into here, and pause to reflect on the rising moonbow, I can discover secrets about the vine-laced tree swing just beyond the garden gate, where in the summer a path remains open all night. But now the exit gate is shut against winter's inevitable chill. The light of stars and moon casts fiery wands into my house. And I wonder how much fodder the moon porch has absorbed over the summer, how full is the treasure trove of thoughts and emotions—especially the ones I have trouble retrieving.

The living room expands to the east, while a cozy nook resides in the southwest corner, encompassing a small table and two chairs. The candle in the center of the square tabletop has melted to a waxy lava mound. There are no walls separating the rooms downstairs, except one, behind the eating nook, where a swinging door opens to a narrow kitchen with pale green and yellow countertops. Soon the teakettle will whistle.

It's good to be back inside again, but I don't want to tarry too long on the lower level. I need to go upstairs directly, to the place I've been yearning for, the room at the top of two flights of stairs.

I pass the second floor and double back to an even narrower climb. I will stop by here later, and explore the three bedrooms, one of which I will sleep in tonight, dreaming dreams within a dream.

I think I can do this. I just have to get to the tower room, where my wildness lays dormant, where my power lies sleeping, where my lost connection to the passionate fires of my deepest longings awaits, and where stolen jewels of my imagination return without notice.

Up the cramped stairwell it is dark, and now I am a little scared. The house creaks as if scolding me for traversing her corridors so late at night.

"No," I say in a whisper. "Shhh." It doesn't have to be so scary—the tower room.

Maybe I've built it up so much in my mind that the real fear is I won't find anything waiting for me there once I finally arrive—no hidden messages, no internal flame.


"No," I say to myself again, "That's just what some part of me wants to think."

I'm almost to the top, and I'm already being enveloped by a triangular pyramid of starlight views. I stand inside the circular opening of the tower room floor, my calves and feet still hidden below, waiting to take the final step. On one wall, I see the long, comfortable window seat with embroidered pillows. A skylight adjoins a bay window where I will sit and ponder, staring at the pinholes of light poking through the black velvet sky. A concert grand piano waits to be played, facing another huge window to the south. Next to the piano is a rack of synthesizers and an acoustic guitar. Speakers fill the east wall, except where a cubbyhole in the stacks reveals an oval window, from where comes the light of dawn, illuminating the lost musician inside.

I take my final step into the room and feel the warmth of every ray of sunlight that has ever streamed through the glass, the wooden floorboards faded by the intensity. But now it is the middle of the night, and the tiny yellow lamp on the piano lights only the south end of the room. The north is lost in endless shadow, but I am not afraid. I know this is where I am supposed to be tonight. And I am not alone anymore.

© 2005 Wild Coyotes... a music & story company