Monday, June 18, 2012

Circles have a way of justifying themselves, of explaining their existence persuasively without the use of a single word. This strikes those of us who are incarcerated the wrong way. It smacks of the gloating people are guilty of just by walking past our windows. I don’t remember how I got here or how long it’s been since I was somewhere else, but certain pictures move about restlessly inside my head and I suspect they might amount to a coherent, explanatory narrative should I be able to lay them out side by side on a solid surface and have a look. The effort required, though, is enormous, I know this from where I sit, my head in my hands and my pants pockets turned inside out, the result of a previous search for matches or a bar of chocolate. I can’t remember if I was the one doing the searching or if perhaps it was someone who occupied the cell with me and who has now been transferred elsewhere or has made his escape. We study circles first when we are too young, when circles seem to us entirely flat and uninteresting, detritus of a universe that goes about unseen below and beneath this one, something outshone by the full-color world in which we live, where nothing is precisely circular. Where civets slink about in shadowy branches of trees and people spend their entire lives learning to play the cello. By the time we realize our mistake, by the time we come to appreciate what the perfect, abstract nature of the lowly circle can offer us, it is much too late. We are already fatally immersed in an existence devoid of all perfection, of all beginning, but no end, and we know better than to try to backtrack, to reach back blindly into the past and fish it out with our bare hands or with devices designed to protect the flesh of our hands while still operating efficiently. You can’t imagine how hot it is in here! the air suspended just above my head, the sound of rodents scuffling about in the pipes in the walls amplified and made the more horrifying by virtue of the fact that it is the only sound that makes it through. Somewhere in this building, people are listening to radios, they are arguing over games of dominoes and the definitions of certain little-used words, I am sure of it, but I am not privy to any of this. I have been locked away like an expensive couch, or a stained one, it doesn’t matter which, and no one is coming to get me any time soon. They know what I’ve done; they know what I am guilty of and they take it more seriously than I do, believe me. They consider it something more than ordinary crime. They can’t even bring themselves to say it out loud unless there is a number of them – they are not alone – and the alcohol has been flowing. Then, their inhibitions not so much lowered as reconstructed, placed in the same general category suddenly as their hobbies or their phobias, those things of which they are not proud but which they do not let control them either, they list my crimes alphabetically and with great glee. They start in the early evening and one or two of them will continue until the moon is on the other side of the sky and wrapped in a mist that betokens neither the advent of morning nor the culmination of night. It simply floats out there with the rest of the occupants of the sky and passes by or envelopes some of them accidentally simply because that portion of the sky which we can take in at a glance is not infinite. It is necessarily circumscribed by the eye.              

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