Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rumor has vineyards flourishing in the vicinity, stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions and giving off aromas so thick you might mistake them for isolated clouds of locusts. After days of searching, I fail to locate even so much as a fig tree in bloom and I feel as if my toes are turning inward, folding over themselves in an attempt to pass my feet off as works of art. Who knows their motive? Perhaps I should relegate all rumors to the status of incomplete truths and not write them off altogether but not jot them down as soon as I hear them either. In this way, I might be able to enjoy whatever months and years remain to me in this place before I hop on a train and start over. Eulalie says the fumes from the gasoline in cans Immanuel spends most nights huffing circle around her head and refuse to dissipate even when she waves a towel about, when she whispers spells at them that she makes up on the spot but which should have the power nonetheless to affect in some small but crucial way whatever she aims them at. After all, she is not helpless. Even the night sky takes its overall structure from the way her name sounds when you say it out loud. Eulalie gets angry, impatient with my endless pleading whenever she comes to visit, dismisses my arguments out of hand even though they make perfect sense. What does my heart care, she says, for the twists and thievery of logic? Why should it pay attention to you who are so full of words? I start unbuckling everything then, dropping my hat and my clothes to the ground by way of both silent and (as I imagine it anyway) eloquent rebuttal, but she is not convinced. We can do whatever you want, she says, her arm on mine, her mouth so close to my ear as to seem suddenly a part of it, one of the ridges and contours intended to capture and direct sound waves, to gather them and concentrate them and channel them deeper and deeper inside, but you can never lure me away permanently, so don’t try. At moments like this we know better than to unpack the satchels of causation, to attempt to find within them sustenance or footwear. I remember once lying awake for hours beside the still form of a woman whose name was so close to mine we got them confused. I wanted to know what occurred inside her mind then with the unconquerable desire of the man who can never actually get what he wants, and worse, is conscious of the fact. Knows it the way he knows the deep meanings associated with a substance like blood – which is to say instinctively, without benefit of schools. Perhaps she was even then making room for me, clearing away back passages, throwing away candlesticks and what looked like family Bibles but turned out on closer inspection to be mere phone books that no one ever used. Or perhaps, in there, her kingdom was -- like Edgar’s, according to tradition -- suddenly overrun by wolves.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Unless the phenomenon occurs before our eyes, we tend not to understand that it can occur at all. We lump it in the category of those things that have been described by experts in the field but only after they have emerged from a very deep sleep. The sort that can alter the color of your hair overnight or make you forget who you are for a moment and where you are located and why no one will speak to you any more when you show up at the corner store to purchase a bottle of cola. I liken the experience to hunting big game but not being able to locate any, realizing after the safari is over that you didn’t even bring enough ammunition with you to go around and that if something had indeed charged you from the long grass, you would have been doomed unless there happened to be a suitably tall acacia tree in the vicinity to scale. Not that I wish the outcome would have been different. I spend my days happily whittling twigs and sitting in the mouth of a cave that overlooks the area where Immanuel and Eulalie have decided to settle, or at least that part of it that isn’t concealed by perpetual rain clouds and a blind spot produced by the abrupt topography this region is known for. Panic sets in around twilight and lingers for an hour or two each evening, but I have grown adept at keeping it at bay through various techniques I will relate when the time is right, when I no longer feel they are necessary. Trying to unlock those secrets prematurely, trying to wrest them from my fingers, so to speak, before I am ready to turn them loose upon the world, will only strengthen my resolve, will only succeed in making my teeth sore from my grinding them together in exasperation, as can be attested to by the diminutive human being who showed up here last Tuesday, I think it was, though I have long since lost the use of anything approximating a calendar in the deep dark tissues of my mind. What use could such an adaption be out here where the scenery never changes, where there are no crops to be put in and no fear, ever, of missing the important festival dates and celebrations for one be-feathered, lopsided deity or another? The man spoke a language I did not recognize, though I pretended to understand every syllable he uttered, nodding almost always in the affirmative until such time as he produced a primitive tin blade and forced my hand. I am not proud of the outcome, nor am I filled with the shame that keeps some people from penning their own definite autobiographies. And I do not admit now something I would refuse to admit under oath, but I can assure you the man still draws breath and spends some time on the front porch with his family before trotting off into town, despite their protests which follow him almost all the way there like mongrel dogs, where he tells stories that sound an awful lot like this one, with the exception that they rarely come to a definite end (or so I’m told). They meander about like cetaceans with little but the wide, featureless blue oceans of the world to contain them.   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

At the bottom of the hill, ruins stretch away into the distance, clay brick foundations of homes and other structures long since abandoned because of an adverse climate perhaps, or invading hordes. You have to ask the archeologists if you want the full picture, or read the literature the archeologists have left in their wake, literature which is, nonetheless, difficult to get your hands on, if only because your hands tend always to be in your pockets. I like the layout of the place, recall it later and describe it to friends who have little chance of visiting themselves because their lives are centered around careers that do not leave one time to appreciate that which is not somehow tied up with dividends and miniature calendars printed on card stock. Immanuel stops long enough for a photograph at a place where a stream once meandered through and the monkeys gathered in the trees to bark at one another and throw seed pods in a relatively complicated way that suggested, to some observers at least – those with a particular interest in passing on colorful anecdotes while simultaneously suppressing all evidence that went counter to their own deepest religious beliefs -- a rudimentary form of gambling. Immanuel laments the loss of such creatures, the ominous silence now where before there had been sound. Or something very like sound even if there was no one present to register it. I get the feeling sometimes that Immanuel doesn’t recognize me anymore. Oh sure, there is the little matter of his saying my name out loud at such regular intervals, it threatens to drive me insane, but that seems more of a bad habit than anything else. It is the look in his eyes I am referring to, a strange gray fixity I’ve seen only once previously, on a man who I didn’t know but who insisted on following me around when I was trying to buy soapstone for carving at a market upriver. His hands were mottled and his liver diseased and I was only able to escape him finally by pointing out a black condor making enormous ovals in the sky. I told the man to pray for it because it was obviously lost and required, at the very least, some manner of divine intervention. For his part, Immanuel has earned the right to look past and through anyone he encounters, even someone like me who has traipsed along beside him lo, these many months. Slogged through the same inundated fields. Endeavored to treat the same ailments with iodine and zinc.           

Monday, July 23, 2012

Once free of the shell, once you are hatched, so to speak, all things begin. Horizons, which before had been immediate, called down upon your body and your senses like a blanket, remove themselves to a proper distance and objects come into focus. You are still not capable of registering them at first as anything more than what they appear to be, you are not able to weave them into a fabric with a beginning, a middle, and something approximating an end, but that point is approaching and it will likely catch you off guard when it arrives, though afterwards you will explain to your friends and acquaintances (more of the latter than the former, unfortunately) that you had an inkling, a foreboding ahead of time and you might have done something to prevent the arrival of this fully-formed world and your ability to comment on it, to make at least a modicum of sense of it, if you had known what would happen, the unpleasant consequences, and if, of course, you hadn’t become so lazy in the meantime, so apt to trust providence to do what it does according to its sterling reputation. No one will believe you, of course. They will remark that nothing has actually changed, that you are, in every respect, exactly the same degenerate you were before the supposed advent of the supposed world, of the horizon and everything that populates space between you and it. In my own attempt to postpone such criticism, to throw it off track the way you throw salt over your shoulder to ward off what we refer to as bad luck because we can’t completely wrap our minds around the concept of there being neither luck nor design nor chaos, I stumble down a path first worn in this part of the forest by wild hogs, I suppose. I have been warned of their presence by no fewer than four different people, none of whom seemed prone to exaggeration, though I can’t remember the last time I have seen so much as a photograph of a hog in a newspaper or a magazine. Eulalie says sometimes things go missing from your consciousness so thoroughly it is as if they never really existed in the first place, and when you happen upon them again by accident later, the shock is identical to that you might experience upon being told that the people you had grown up believing were your parents are not really your parents at all, but cousins of the same or even complete strangers. In either case, there is a sudden tear in the fabric of the universe as you have experienced it to that point – or more precisely, as you have endeavored to stitch it together -- and the danger is that you will lose your balance in your attempt to examine that tear more closely, and you will fall right through.