Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The blades, made of wood and big around as palm fronds, circulate the air so that the insects won’t gather above our heads, won’t land on the cantaloupe and set its flesh to crawling. I place my fingers on my temples and lean in, expecting at any moment to be recognized and escorted unceremoniously from the building, which is in the shape of a star with one end, one hallway, sharper, less elongated than the other, as if gravity exerts itself more forcefully the closer you get to solid ground, or at least ground that is still moist from the recent morning rains. Those who might have seen my picture in the past, those who might even have taken it from a concealed vantage point in the hedges across the street, have better things at the moment to occupy their minds. Eulalie catches some unwanted attention by stretching her legs out full length into the aisle way, pulling absently at what must be her garter hidden by the hem of her skirt, and when I whisper something derogatory, threatening, she rolls her eyes and says everything will be fine. The world and everything in it will cease to exist someday soon because we will cease to exist and what would be the purpose then of continuing to create and label objects? What would be the use of songs lamenting one’s distance from home or with tambourines drowning out the background singers who each dreamt of coming down front and center (or so you read in a magazine article with a title you forget now, but one that jumped out at you then in its prodigious black ink like an octopus) and then gave up that dream when they realized it meant having to commit many more words and phrases to memory and recalling them again at a moment’s notice. Eulalie holds her hand out as if to impede the progress of someone who wishes suddenly and for no apparent reason to get closer to her body, to stand next to it in an effort to estimate its height or take from it whatever warmth might be radiating from the skin. Trouble is, no one is actually advancing and the gesture makes me think perhaps Eulalie has suffered some sort of nerve damage during one of her countless strolls around the edge of the lake where fishermen’s lures hang almost decoratively here and there from the tree branches and the water itself grows murky and impenetrable to the gaze the further out you go. This is typical, I’m told, of any body of water where the center is deeper than the surrounding edges precisely because other ways of organizing it will fail to hold the water in, thus disqualifying the body, by definition, as a lake. It will send the water cascading over the edges every time it rains, flooding the homes and the businesses -- the tire repair shops and the beauty parlors with their primitively rendered parrots and the occasional cockatoo in the big bay windows out front. And wouldn’t it be something if we could identify all such suspicious topographies ahead of time and call attention to them the way we call attention to ourselves? How many lives might we save? How many times would we get our names mentioned in the geological journals that matter?      

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