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The Road › Quotes

The Road Quotes

You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.
Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.
Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.
There is no God and we are his prophets.
He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.
Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that. You forget some things, dont you? Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.
If trouble comes when you least expect it then maybe the thing to do is to always expect it.
He knew only that his child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke.
You have to carry the fire." I don't know how to." Yes, you do." Is the fire real? The fire?" Yes it is." Where is it? I don't know where it is." Yes you do. It's inside you. It always was there. I can see it.
Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.
Listen to me, he said, when your dreams are of some world that never was or some world that never will be, and you're happy again, then you'll have given up. Do you understand? And you can't give up, I won't let you.
If you break little promises, you'll break big ones.
Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other's world entire.
No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.
By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.
Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?.
What would you do if I died? If you died I would want to die too. So you could be with me? Yes. So I could be with you. Okay.
When one has nothing left make ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.
The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all.
Perhaps in the world's destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made. Oceans, mountains. The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be. The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular. The silence.
When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.
You have my whole heart. You always did. You're the best guy. You always were.
He thought each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins. As in a party game. Say the words and pass it on. So be sparing. What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not.
All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.
Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said.
On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world.
Carry the fire.
He was just hungry, Papa. He's going to die. He's going to die anyway. He's so scared, Papa. The man squatted and looked at him. I'm scared, he said. Do you understand? I'm scared. The boy didn't answer. He just sat there with his head down, sobbing. You're not the one who has to worry about everything. The boy said something but he couldn't understand him. What? He said. He looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one.
Suppose you were the last one left? Suppose you did that to yourself?.
He could not construct for the child's pleasure the world he'd lost without constructing the loss as well and he thought perhaps the child had known this better than he.
Every day is a lie. But you are dying. That is not a lie.
He lay listening to the water drip in the woods. Bedrock, this. The cold and the silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone.
From daydreams on the road there was no waking. He plodded on. He could remember everything of her save her scent. Seated in a theatre with her beside him leaning forward listening to the music. Gold scrollwork and sconces and the tall columnar folds of the drapes at either side of the stage. She held his hand in her lap and he could feel the tops of her stockings through the thin stuff of her summer dress. Freeze this frame. Now call down your dark and your cold and be damned.
He woke before dawn and watched the gray day break. Slow and half opaque. He rose while the boy slept and pulled on his shoes and wrapped in his blanket he walked out through the trees. He descended into a gryke in the stone and there he crouched coughing and he coughed for a long time. Then he just knelt in the ashes. He raised his face to the paling day. Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at the last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered. Oh God.
Lying under such a myriad of stars. The sea’s black horizon. He rose and walked out and stood barefoot in the sand and watched the pale surf appear all down the shore and roll and crash and darken again. When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.
When the shooting starts would you rather be armed or legal?.
When you've nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.
Each the others world entire.
You know that the things you put it your head stay there, right?' 'Yeah. But you remember some things, don't you?' 'Yeah. You remember the things you want to forget and forget the things you want to remember.
The one thing I can tell you is that you wont survive for yourself. I know because I would never have come this far. A person who had no one would be well advised to cobble together some passable ghost. Breathe it into being and coax it along with words of love. Offer it each phantom crumb and shield it from harm with your body. As for me my only hope is for eternal nothingness and I hope it with all my heart.
They lay listening. Can you do it? When the time comes? When the time comes there will be no time. Now is the time. Curse God and die. What if it doesn't fire? It has to fire. What if it doesn't fire? Could you crush that beloved skull with a rock? Is there such a being within you of which you know nothing? Can there be? Hold him in your arms. Just so. The soul is quick. Pull him toward you. Kiss him. Quickly.
Years later he'd stood in the charred ruins of a library where blackened books lay in pools of water. Shelves tipped over. Some rage at the lies arranged in their thousands row on row. He picked up one of the books and thumbed through the heavy bloated pages. He'd not have thought the value of the smallest thing predicated on a world to come. It surprised him. That the space which these things occupied was itself an expectation.
When we're all gone at last then there'll be nobody here but death and his days will be numbered too. He'll be out in the road there with nothing to do and nobody to do it to. He'll say: where did everybody go? And that's how it will be. What's wrong with that?.
In his dream she was sick and he cared for her. The dream bore the look of sacrifice but he thought differently. He did not take care of her and she died alone somewhere in the dark and there is no other dream nor other waking world and there is no other tale to tell.
The nights were blinding cold and casket black and the long reach of the morning had a terrible silence to it.
The small wad of burning paper drew down to a wisp of flame and then died out leaving a faint pattern for just a moment in the incandescence like the shape of a flower, a molten rose. Then all was dark again.
The man watched him. Real life is pretty bad? What do you think? Well, I think we're still here. A lot of bad things have happened but we're still here. Yeah. You don't think that's so great. It's okay.
When your dreams are of some world that never was or of some world that never will be and you are happy again then you will have given up.
And the dreams so rich in color. How else would death call you? Waking in the cold dawn it all turned to ash instantly. Like certain ancient frescoes entombed for centuries suddenly exposed to the day.
Then he just knelt in the ashes. He raised his face to the paling day. Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at the last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered, Oh God.
Can you do it? When the time comes? When the time comes there will be no time. Now is the time. Curse God and die. What if it doesn't fire? It has to fire. Could you crush that beloved skull with a rock?.
Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all.
Just take me with you. Please. I cant. Please, Papa. I cant. I cant hold my son dead in my arms. I thought I could but I cant.
What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not.
She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift.
The wind sounded of Mother Earth's forsaken and abandoned cries.
He thought that in the history of the world it might even be that there was more punishment than crime but he took small comfort from it.
If he is not the word of God God never spoke.
There is no later. This is later.
All of this like some ancient anointing. So be it. Evoke the forms. Where you've nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.
Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that. You forget some things, dont you? Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.
In a pocket of his knapsack he'd found a last half packet of cocoa and he fixed it for the boy and then poured his own cup with hot water and sat blowing at the rim. You promised not to do that, the boy said. What? You know what, Papa. He poured the hot water back into the pan and took the boy's cup and poured some of the cocoa into his own and then handed it back. I have to watch you all the time, the boy said.
Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before.
Freeze this frame. Now call down your dark and your cold and be damned.
Not all dying words are true and this blessing is no less real for being shorn of its ground.
Each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins.
The world shrinking down about a raw core of parsible entities. The names of things slowly following those things into oblivion. Colors. The names of birds. Things to eat. Finally the name of things one believed to be true. More fragile than he would have thought. How much was gone already? The sacred idiom shorn of its referents and so of its reality. Drawing down like something trying to preserve heat. In time to wink out forever.
Dark of the invisible moon. The night now only slightly less black. By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.
Rich dreams now which he was loathe to wake from. Things no longer known in the world. The cold drove him forth to mend the fire. Memory of her crossing the lawn toward the house in the early morning in a thin rose gown that clung to her breasts. He thought each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins. As in a party game. Say the words and pass it on. So be sparing. What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not.
We used to talk about death, she said. We don’t anymore. Why is that? I don’t know. It’s because it’s here. There’s nothing left to talk about. I wouldn’t leave you. I don’t care. It’s meaningless. You can think of me as a faithless slut if you like. I’ve taken a new lover. He can give me what you cannot. Death is not a lover. O yes he is. Please don’t do this. I’m sorry. I can’t do it alone.
Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that.