Friday, November 2, 2012

The purpose in tunneling is to reach some destination that isn’t marked on your globe, that doesn’t show up when you close your eyes and repeat certain words over and over again until you fall into something very like a trance -- except it lacks the mental wallpaper with eyeballs on it and the sound of oboes. Every third turn brings me to a dead end and I consider giving up entirely but I remember what the nurse said to me in the middle of the night when she thought I was in a coma. I am inspired to continue. There is no question what I remember is not the same thing as what occurred and that I am deriving my inspiration from something that does not exist. And yet, how is this any different, finally, from how other people operate? They get on their hands and knees and they shuffle from one spot to another (all of it in the mud or on cherry wood floors under overhead track lighting, it doesn’t matter) and the sky alters its appearance. It moves visibly like a seaman’s compass. And we are to believe that the one caused the other, that it is our will, once put into appropriate costume, that floats the stars and the comets, that summons the clouds with the rain inside them and the imperial thunder. I meet up with the others after an interminable separation, after the flies have come and gone in waves that resemble complex musical notation, and I try to keep silent but the sentences pour from my throat until there are no more unique combinations available and I am reduced to a kind of bleating that puts everyone on edge. In the canopy overhead, the macaws heighten the tension through an off-tempo serenade and when I drift off, my sleep is full of feathers. And mites. When I wake again, the others have pushed on without me, have left me a note of apology that begins with a quote by Thomas Jefferson. I suspect they have invented the quote, the way they have invented all the other parts of the letter, and I am preparing to light myself on fire as an act of protest and unyielding despair. But I am out of matches, and besides, whoever heard of this part of the world anyway? Who would believe the myths that emerge from its forests like tusked deer? Our entreaties, our laments, are not acts of desperation, though they are viewed that way, I’m sure, when they gather together overhead, when they push and shove in the moonlight for position and wander off in twos and threes for company into the far corners of the cosmos, never to be heard from again. We ought, then, to label them and sort them, or turn them into pamphlets that nobody reads. That way, eventually, we’ll have extra time on our hands to accomplish what we promised ourselves we’d accomplish when we got around to it. Like erect fences. Or learn to play plaintive airs on the hammer dulcimer so as to woo the kind of lover that must remain, until such airs are mastered, entirely theoretical.

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