Monday, November 12, 2012

Leaving the branches to their own devices, their own peculiar way of filtering the essence from the air, she lets her shadow stretch across the highway for a moment, or a window through which one can glimpse – just barely – half empty bookshelves. A plastic crate for transporting milk. Afterward, I follow the rumors that persist in this part of the world for days and weeks, use them as the lines on a map. There is violence at the core of them like molten rock and an air of credibility if only because they are muttered under the breath, and in the native tongue. They all resemble one another in key areas – the stripping of flesh from the hands with an instrument originally intended to polish the inside of copper kettles. The jumping up and down in place, the stammering incoherently at the moon as if placed in a trance by someone or something that operates without motive. That wouldn’t understand the concept should you take the time to explain it, using ready-made diagrams you find online and Schumann lieder playing in the background. Each thread leads to another and just when you become convinced that you have journeyed over them all twice over, a new one emerges from under a rock or from the purse carried by the woman who informs me she knows where the infant is being raised. I am dumbstruck by the brute audacity of it all. The generation and regeneration from little more than organelles. And a look in the eye that says the eye is not registering anything that stands before it. By the time I track it down, the child has stopped its incessant caterwauling and it bumps into the furniture as if trying to escape vicious entities the rest of us can not detect. If I look closely for some manner of resemblance (not just to me, but any of us, to any of the trio of unwilling protagonists) -- some kind of answer to a question I hadn’t yet been intelligent enough to formulate -- I find exactly what it is I wish to find. And then it goes away. It fades into non-existence as effortlessly as might a properly-adapted viper into the desert sands. This, in effect, blocks my way, my desired course once and for all, and I have to change destination. An hour later, I am at the airport, or something that looks like an airport, booking passage for home. The woman behind the counter fails to see the urgency in my predicament, though. The more forcefully I try to explain by drawing straight lines up and down on a piece of paper and pointing to one of them, the more she insists longitude doesn’t matter. We no longer take measure of it since they started floating satellites in the sky. We have exiled it the way Ovid was exiled for insulting someone important and he had nothing then to do with the rest of his days but reflect with a quill and ink on something as mundane as love or transformation. Besides, why hanker after something that never existed in the first place? she says. Why spend all that money, shed all those tears, only to have a stranger in the shampoo aisle say he saw you once in a dream? The dream is lengthy and intricate but it ends in an enormous field with the two of you staring at each other and wondering which one will make the decision that has to be made? Which one will pull out the critical object secreted away in his coat and hold it in his hand for the other to examine, for the other to fall down on his knees before because there is nothing comparable in his coat, nothing of similar importance to discover or reveal, no matter how deeply into it he reaches?

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