Monday, February 20, 2012

Under the surface, under the skin, something is amiss. Flesh fails to register its own solidity. Fibers appear as if out of nowhere and stitch themselves together into patterns that interfere with the patterns pre-programmed into the cells. Those who become aware of this before anyone else are accused of succumbing to psychiatric disturbances only recently recorded in the medical literature. The names given these disturbances are as ordinary as the names we give our kitchen utensils. Certainly if you think about them long enough, if you repeat them over and over again to yourself, they will begin to strike you as out-of-place, as so irremediably contrary to the nature of objects being named, you will begin to wonder if maybe the names aren’t really names at all but elements in a code that you are, perhaps, the first human being in history to detect. And you fear it may then become your destiny and obligation to devote the rest of your life to attempting to decipher it – to taking it apart like an old typewriter you’ve found in the garage, taking it apart just to see for yourself how it works. I walk the mile and a half to work and back every day without complaint but without much of a sense of having accomplished anything either. There are two hills along the way, mild inclines in the topography of the earth and I imagine sometimes as I am making my way up and down them that they were landmarks at one time whereby the indigenous peoples of this region navigated, though surely this area must have been entirely forested at that time and so any increase in elevation as minor as is represented by these hills would have been nearly impossible to spot until you were almost directly on top of them. Still, the forested, be-savaged inclines in my mind are more compelling than those encased in concrete or asphalt that pass beneath my feet, those watched over by nothing more mysterious than loose groupings of black power lines swinging dangerously close to the heads of those of us who make our way through this part of town without ever bothering to linger. Every now and then I see someone watching my progress from one of the windows that grace the second or third story of the buildings built half a century ago, and more, on the slope and arch of these twin hills and I wonder what it’s like to live, in effect, in the sky. My room is on the ground floor of a building with a picture of a sea creature of some sort painted on the south wall. The sea creature is a sandy yellow, vaguely cetacean in appearance, and covered in moss. It has flippers someone has taken great care to render – with irregular knobs across them and mottled shadows meant to capture the movement of light through the upper regions of otherwise very deep water. No one seems to know what the sea creature means. Why it is here and not somewhere else. Why it is constantly watching you with its big gray eye (the other one is hidden on the other side of its massive head) whenever you approach, or (should you prefer) whenever you cross the street so as to avoid its malevolent gaze. This is, I’m sad to say, the option my friends choose more often than not, and so I rarely see my friends now. I am having a harder and harder time each day trying to remember their names or what it is they look like. 

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