Thursday, February 21, 2013

At the Promised Land a woman regaled the two or three present with tales of her life as a trapeze artist, something she had been training for since she was three, since the day her father held her up off the ground for a moment and then let her drop again. The pain spoke of something beyond itself like the ideas skulking under the surface pigment of  a portrait of an old-world explorer with his tin hat pinched and raised at the center and his eyes trained far off and away from where the artist must have been standing, in this case behind and to the right of the canvas. Our instincts draw us to the periphery of any dispute that involves the instincts themselves, that attempts to wrangle them for particular purposes like defending procreation or the demi-urge, or tossing it all onto the trash heap the way you might discard a jacket when the lining has been frayed, or maybe documents that meant something at one time, that spoke coherently and could therefore have been used in any number of incriminating schemes or scenarios like those you run across sometimes in the prose romances of Barnabe Riche, but which have since grown mostly incomprehensible due to the fading of the ink used and the inevitable alterations in the language with which the documents were composed. Lewis brought his sandwich with him, unwrapped it before the unevenly-numbered, curious and bemused eyeballs attempting to focus on either side of him. He behaved as if they didn’t exist. Later we discovered (by asking around, by broadcasting our desires through the medium of door-to-door knocking and sometimes, as a consequence, spur of the moment games of badminton or croquet) he had written a treatise not thirteen years before on the evolution of inanimate objects, particularly those that seem at first glance to have no clear purpose, like broken tree limbs or the bits of broken and colored glass that have accumulated over the years in a crevice on the blacktop. He would be damned if all that hard work was just going to go to waste or if he was going to fail to retaliate when it was stolen in underhand fashion. The only difficulty now lay in determining what the original document had meant and if he still had a copy of it in that yellow and black cardboard box he kept in a corner of the room when he had a room to keep things in the corner of. Maybe his memory hadn’t been forced around itself by disease after all, maybe his thoughts were just as unsullied as they’d been before he recognized them as bonafide human thoughts rather than simply bits and pieces of information blown his way haphazardly by whatever entity was in charge of transporting things from one place to another. Certainly, he thought, stray strings of bratwurst hung between his teeth like flightless birds, if we can’t agree on anything else, we can agree that movement seems to be a priority and making it continue is a job only the most robust and qualified are to be trusted with. The rest of us must be content with simple observation and mostly silent reflection while stretched out on the sidelines, perpendicular to the playing field where all the action is, where, as a consequence, it’s difficult to secure any lasting shade and where the occasional beetle of one sort or another is in the habit of scampering across our ankles.

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