A VERSE TO THE PRESENT CONDITION
Snow covered the ground and the sun poured in from the southeast with such determination that the mullions of the windows were erased by the backlighting. The intensity of the light and the increased warmth of the room seemed to lie about the boundaries between outside and in. Even when squinting, details of the room were barely visible and the air was full of unwarranted optimism.
At this time of year the sun arced low across the sky. From 10 to 12 to 2 as the numbers would appear on the face of a watch. He wished for a more majestic allusion; something like the the Persistence of Memory, a line from Beckett or a description of the clock at Salisbury. What an unforgiving life it must be, stuck in a tower, constantly employed as a silent witness to six hundred thirty-three years of mortality on all fronts. Men and birds, forests and prayers all fell before its ropes and cast iron gears as an endless spiral of life and death hurling through space with a pattern and plan that no one but god herself would ever know.
He noted that the light had begun to fade the spines of the books upon his shelves. He took this as proof of the constant erasing and the need to re-tell the stories. He had been awake less than an hour but winter had cast a pall upon his spirit and he felt the need for a nap. He sank into a velvet covered, antique French chair. The left wing of the chair had been warmed by the sun and the right wing was ten degrees cooler from the cast of a shadow. He leaned toward the cool side and faintly smiled at the amusement. In a moment he was asleep.
As of late he had been consumed by thoughts of mortality. Although he rarely spoke to anyone, as conversation was an intrusion upon his misery. He had come across notes in every room of the apartment upon which he had written, “It has been a challenging year.” Velocity is menacing bullet fired from a carelessly aimed gun, he thought. At first it tears through body after body, terrorizing some and boring others. Then it slows and it scares no one. Soon enough accountants gather to tally or discount the carnage and eventualy they only speak of the days when you used to be able to kill. After all deicsion are rendered the bullet falls to the ground awaiting the revisions of history. Astronomers call this an orbit.
When he awoke he noticed a small bit of dandruff on the chair.
He scribbled notes about a dream on a pad of paper. He mentioned a river. It was a dream that he had many times in the past. He assumed that it was the great river although in the dream it was never mentioned by name. He lived at the northern end and he knew that the southern end terminated in the Gulf of Mexico. For a time in his life he lived at the southern end in New Orleans. Hard cocked, masked, drunken and rebellious. Sated and starved, focused and blurred, screaming into the void under the Claiborne overpass, catching bullets with his teeth, close as he would ever be to becoming the other that he had always fantacized being. Dancing, blowing on some soured horn, beset by hurricaines, plagued by mold, strolling humid streets, flat-footed and skipping, second lined with the Black Men of Labor, fist in the air, buried above ground, heaving roots and sick to fucking death of the tourists. Driving into the Treme where panhandlers hit on him like vultures on a carcass while he listened to jazz and drank whiskey and dreamed about fucking a stranger behind the bar. Ain’t nothin, ain’t nothin, ain’t nothin ever gonna be like that again. Dem tree boise, that old woman said to him.
Y’ain’t never gonna, ever gonna feel safe again. Stole my purse and pushed me down.Dem tree boise, dem tree boise did. And then she started crying like the sky openend up. Dem tree boise is motherfuckers!
- Thom Middlebrook