Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Once separated from the others in my party, I purposefully followed the trail from which, it was rumored, no one had ever returned. People set out in the spring usually and by the end of June their loved ones had forgotten their names. A kind of amnesia settled over the community and to break it required extraordinary measures – whittling ceremonial poles from green hickory, tying scarves around them from top to bottom so that the resident crows might be tricked into saying the names out loud. It almost never worked. I like the hint of pistachio that lingers in the air when I finally work up the nerve to set foot outside and I stand on the porch and wait for the two gentlemen in black ties to arrive at the tavern across the street. I know that they are on a mission to civilize the rest of us according to a creed that is difficult to understand when you are first introduced to it but becomes easier the more frequently you immerse yourself in its teachings. From what I’ve heard, it promises an afterlife so similar to this one you don’t even realize anything has changed until someone important points it out to you, someone whose job it is to minimize misunderstandings and pass along the secret codes and the secret handshakes and the folk music of that place, which is counter-punctual in nature and is said to remind one of Debussy if one has not listened to Debussy very closely in the past. The giant at the end of the path was not a giant in the true sense of that word, over the trees in stature and drooling after human flesh, but he did have to duck his head whenever he entered or exited through the front door and his hands fit quite easily over mine when he was attempting to show me how to properly toss the discus. My patience was sorely tested by the terrain and when I lay down to sleep under the stars near the wood pile I feared I would never see my home again if only because the tendons in my neck had begun to ache and I was certain this was due not to the tendons at all but an aneurysm in the artery that took the blood upward to my brain. The giant reassured me using graphs and statistics and a speaking voice he modulated up or down in timbre and volume as the situation required. By the end of my stay I realized there was no need to try to steal any of his household items. I was free to come and go as I pleased and what alchemy, really, can one discover at the strings of a lyre when one has trained previously on nothing more complicated than the oboe?          

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