Thursday, April 12, 2012

For several weeks explosions intermittently rock the neighborhood where I live, and no one seems to be able to identify where the explosions are coming from or what exactly is causing them, let alone figure out what to do about them. At four o’clock one morning around this time, I am tossed from my bed by the power of one of these explosions and I think for a moment, while still half asleep, that the earth has opened up down the middle and everything is funneling in. The entire surface of the planet and everything resting on that surface is sliding into oblivion. I search for a camera with which to document this singular event, but my hands just get stuck in the pockets of the robe I have worn to bed and inside there are bandage wrappers and half-eaten pieces of candy gathering lint. Afterward, I can’t sleep, as is usually the case anyway, and so I do what I must do to keep myself occupied as the stars rotate slowly above my head. Frequently, when I can’t sleep I have visions of the walls sliding slowly outward, revealing a place between where the room ends and where the outside world begins, a place without color or substance, about three feet wide from top to bottom, where, if I could figure out exactly how to accomplish it, I could spend my nights more profitably than I do now. Reading books that take place on a lane far away where someone who is rumored to know the names of the different plants and flowers she passes while walking on that lane spends the entirety of the book calling out the names of those plants and flowers just to demonstrate that the rumors concerning her are true. Wouldn’t it be something to find we enjoy again the things we enjoyed in our youth? The local delicacies made with watercress and cognac? The songs about the train depot where the trains were always late, where the people who were waiting for the trains kept looking at their watches and mumbling threats under their breath? These threats, like most threats, were not serious. They didn’t hold the weight and import of, say, a diplomatic wire from overseas. Just the same, it’s hard to imagine ignoring them completely if you were the target. If you felt as if you were being given an ultimatum, say, and the only way you could respond was to do what your father and your father’s father before him (and perhaps even two or three generations beyond that) had done – namely, to address the threat directly by making a threat of your own. One as serious in tone as a canvas by Michelangelo but having at its center a soft, white spongy material that could be pressed and formed to hold any image whatsoever. A bird, maybe. Someone with a bird perched on his arm. He is holding the arm with the bird on it up and out -- toward the sky, as it were -- and you can tell he wishes the bird would fly away and that he is a little bit disappointed that the bird is showing no inclination to fly. It keeps its wings stubbornly tucked up next to its body.                    

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