Sunday, April 29, 2012

Empty envelopes spill out of the back of a truck making its way east. When I attempt to recreate the scene later with pastel chalk on cardboard, I can’t remember what the driver of the truck looked like or what the people in the street did when they saw the envelopes fluttering about like ailing sparrows. Perhaps they stood around in stunned silence or perhaps they took the opportunity to discuss the concept of happenstance in depth and then departed for the nearest pastry shop. Ever since I got rid of the phone, I hear a faint ringing in my ears, especially when someone, strangely enough, is getting ready to knock on my front door. This is the only avenue left to them and some, like Xarlemagne, take to it almost gleefully, seeming to recognize that rules are only as powerful as the language used to communicate them. When you scramble that language, the rules stop telling you how to behave. They become witnesses instead, standing on the sidelines. They are afraid to share their opinions. Xarlemagne raises donkeys the next town over and makes a great deal of money when the weather has turned soggy and cold and the roads going elsewhere are mostly impassable. He stays up three and four days at a time cooking powders in beakers and trying to explain to anyone who will listen why the planet is neither spherical in shape nor flat, but raised like the flesh on your arm when someone comes at you with a butcher knife. His theory is the result of thirty plus years of haphazard observation and a carful working out of formulas in the night when the moon is his only illumination. And the bees are humming contentedly in his walls. It was Xarlemagne first suggested the manufacture of chess boards as a means of communicating with those forces in the universe that respect the game despite never having played it because they have no hands with which to manipulate the pieces. I remind him of this every time I go to visit and my tone is none-too-conciliatory because my life has been affected adversely by his every suggestion, but especially this one. It slows and twists around on itself as if there were a hook in its mouth or a rider on its back and it wishes to remove it. My life behaves as though it can concentrate on only a single object or desire at a time and that object or desire usually happens to rhyme with words that have no obvious rhyme.  Like “delicatessen.” Or that for a place where one level of soil gives way to another, older level and your only hope of being able to tell the difference between the two is to study the pigments and the pollen grains in them closely, under a microscope. If that doesn’t work, you can always ask someone who lacks training in geology, who just happens to be passing by, in fact, and so has no vested interest in the outcome.         

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