Thursday, May 9, 2013

The heads carved from stone appeared at first glance the handiwork of their ancestors, totemic reminders of human agency from the very beginning of habitation, but we were assured this was not the case, that their cosmos was a self-governing entity or field and there was no causation as we normally understand it, no first this and then something else, but an entity forever unfolding within itself on the vertical axis. It took two weeks to communicate this properly, though, and during most of that time we made the forgivable mistake of praising the ingenuity of their forebears, the vision that allowed them to rework misery, the iron-choked cisterns and the innumerable broken toes, into something that changed the subject, that denied all subjects but the one deemed most worthy of discussion by their effeminate elders and thus, by definition, that which was to be frowned upon by the visiting archeologists or the occasional minister washed ashore and all but insane,  his hair grown unruly in the wind and the skin on his forehead peeling with disease. Who are we, though, to count backwards, to suggest that the numbers we have used to this point successfully no longer function the way they were intended? That they belong to an order of existence three furlongs further east where the residents are terrified of the sound of a passing locomotive and they attempt to mask their fear with actual masks, with noncommittal faces worked in alabaster and holes where the eyes go, crow’s feathers hung (for a time anyway) from the sides with ordinary white glue. The house is like any other in the region, but for what looks like sod on the roof and the doors here and there leading into underground caverns. Eulalie waves her arms and the man sees us from the kitchen window, nods in our direction as if he has had a premonition of our approach and wishes to acknowledge that we are welcome even though he doesn’t believe in premonitions. Somewhere, out of sight, hounds bay with a fury that bespeaks their acquaintance with, if not evil exactly, the closest thing to it that doesn’t pulse in the light of the moon, doesn’t throw its own light around as if it were constructed of almost nothing but light, and so has extra sums to do with as it pleases. Eulalie mocks the bitter wailing with a brand of her own and I wish for about the thousandth time that I had never met Eulalie, that our paths had wandered close enough to one another to occupy the same mountain, say, but had veered sharply at the point of contact, had recognized the impending catastrophe and had taken it upon themselves to avert that catastrophe by hurrying off into the vegetation on opposite ends of the mountain where they would simply peter out and disappear from underuse like metaphysics, or the harpsichord.     

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