Sunday, August 26, 2012

Three blocks of wood, very like statues in size and general appearance, grace the entrance to the cave. I didn’t carry them up here and I don’t know who did. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly restless, I think I should carve them into the likeness of proper beings, individuals, I should make of them a committee to greet people on those rare occasions when I am away and to keep them lingering until my return. But I can’t get my hands to obey even the simplest tasks. Grabbing flies out of mid-air. Sketching a faithful likeness of Eulalie when she stops by before heading home to Immanuel who will inevitably, through inebriation, fail to recognize her. Our emblems are thrust upon us and we either decline or accept. Maybe it’s even more stark than that – the rest of the world making such decisions for us and never bothering to send notification. At a bend in the river, on the western side, the side with a road on it trod into existence originally by skittish wildlife and then domesticated beasts, a woman called Kia serves patrons seated inside a small building and in the open air, tea or gin or strawberry concoctions and sandwiches with Irish-sounding names attached to them by the owner of the establishment who is a man with a memory like a camel’s -- said to be quite good by those who rely on camels in the desert wastes to find their way from one place to another, though why we should lend credence to the opinions of people we have no direct contact with and probably never will, people who, to be honest, because we (and by we, I mean you, not those of us living in caves) are such a narrow and suspicious bunch, we wouldn’t trust to work in our daycare centers or deliver our important packages, is a question someone should look into just as soon as most other questions of similar import have been eliminated as irrelevant or answered sufficiently in the opinion of those who originally posed them. On certain evenings, when the sun has made the edge of the world bruised and bloody and the battery-run radio that fits in my hand is dredging up dark melodramas from the 1930’s, I find myself longing for that idiosyncratic menu, for egg salad O’Leary and other questionable fare, because of Kia’s beauty which is something that hangs in the air around her and seems to speak in complete sentences. You have to fight your way through it sometimes, using of course your bare hands because metal weapons threaten to tear the gauzy fabric of it and will get you thrown into the dust close to the road by larger-than-standard men who turn out to be the owner’s degenerate sons and whose job it is to see to the well-being of all those who make their living inside. Whose job it is too, apparently, to wash the windows or sweep the floors on occasion when they have nothing better to do. We linger forever just at the edge of tedium or ecstasy and expect to push our way through from one to the other without ever really recognizing what the difference is between them, that there might not be a difference ultimately, and that our every expectation then is like a bird on a sandbar in that it doesn’t belong there for any extended period of time. When the wind picks up and the moon hovers close and the water in the river rises and threatens to overwhelm whatever nest the bird has thrown together with fugitive bits of straw and Styrofoam, there is a decision to be made but no one knows quite how to go about it, least of all the bird.

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