Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A patch of skin no bigger around than a postage stamp catches the light of the sun like fish scales and sends the mind back in on itself, searching for that place where this particular patch glinted previously. Whatever’s down there, though, whatever swirls about in half-body is not to be trusted, is not to be linked to actual physical entities in the here and now any more than phrases ought to replace that which they are intended to depict or modify. You’re better off letting the mind fend for itself elsewhere. Out in front. On the pavement where the chalk outlines disappear but slowly in the runoff and the centipedes stagger about stunned and vulnerable in what passes for light once the sun has dropped behind the cactus and the chain-link fence that endeavors to surround it. Not that we can pinpoint precisely in this fashion (this dropping of fauna at strategic edges, in the margins where otherwise there might simply be straight lines) what we intend to observe and what we intend to bypass simply by counting the number of digits or examining the negatives with a magnifying glass and an Exacto knife and certain Nordic fairy tales ringing in our ears. You could say he was the one perpetually waiting, on the corner, outside someone’s backdoor and you didn’t always realize he was there until you turned that corner, you walked out that door, and came within inches of colliding with him. And you just had time to think Why didn’t I go the other way? Why didn’t I realize that instinct is that which is going to get you in trouble the way corn syrup does, the way listening to the sound of the coyotes howling at night on the ridge keeps you from dreaming about the consonant letter shapes to be made with the image of the neighbor lady’s body? Oh, to be nimble as the tongue when used at tangential purposes! Then you had to flee. An hour after that first glimpse, that moment in which the skin is something other than the skin and this from across the street with bicyclists and a light pole in between, it comes to me he is the one who put an insect in my mouth once, twenty years past like skimming the appendix, who pried my lips open and jammed it in upon the tip of a single finger and held my head forcibly still until I consented to chew, to grind whatever species he had happened upon between teeth at the front otherwise hewn together just moments before so tight with rage and shame as to preclude their being distinguished by the unaided eye one from the other – just a mass lacking all geometrical boundaries and nominal purpose, a shapeless conglomerate of what elsewhere in the body we’d refer to as bone.      

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