Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lists appear before my eyes as if they were tangible, as if they were actual three-dimensional entities engaged in defying the laws of gravity. I can’t make out the items themselves, the language they are written in, but instinct tells me the lists are important the same way nerve twinges and muscle aches arising in the body are important and should not be ignored. That I am mistaken, that none of it matters in the least, becomes obvious just twenty minutes later when the girl with the pigtails and a blue poncho shows up again, her eyes no longer as dull and malformed as they seemed before in the shadows of her front door, but vibrant now with something like fear, though I suspect almost immediately the name of this emotion is not precise, it is not what I am looking for. She has had a change of heart, explains that the book is indeed hers, or at least is something that has belonged to her family for more than a couple of generations. And she needs it because how else will she construct the programs meant to accompany her marionette theatricals? How else will her mother know the background and importance of what she witnesses most nights on a stage the girl has constructed with two old end tables and a beach blanket thrown over them, a blanket with orange and white stripes and what appears to be condiment stains cleansed and subdued by time. Sinister associations accompany the least sinister of situations like a pack of dogs. We look for the bridge that sways unstable above the river, the weeds grown chest high in the field across the street, and we tell ourselves they mean exactly what they say, which is, of course, nothing. When you get right down to it, all of creation is mute. The song Uncle Toby Belch sings serves (for the audience, at any rate) as initial unmasking of everyone’s favorite, or second favorite, bĂȘte noir, Malvolio, but the song itself is artificial in at least seven different ways and it’s only when we elaborate on them, when we deliver our exegesis that any real sound gets made at all. The girl in the poncho knows this, clearly, despite her reluctance to explain what she is doing, despite her insistence that she has brought us back to the apartment she shares with an, as yet, merely theoretical mother, not to demonstrate but plead. Who else could possibly get to the bottom of the tangle of abominations and falsehoods? Who else could possibly understand what even a little bit of sunlight is capable of doing to the skin? If we attempt to turn all of it on its head, to reverse the order, to unwind what amounts to a physical syllogism, an argument in matter and dust and thread, we are guilty of the same crime we set out originally to prevent. We can’t remember what it is. No one remembers what that crime is, what it’s called, but it has a name, you can be sure, and it will stay on the tip of the tongue like bacteria until such time as someone commits it again and everyone blurts the name of it out at the same time, a whole chorus thunderous and overwhelming and terrifying, its members pointing their vicious long fingers and bellowing and wiping the foam and spittle from the corners of their lips, and only afterwards, when they are at home, in private, just themselves and maybe a reproduction watching sheepishly from the far side of the mirror, allowing themselves a measure of shame.     

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