crispy doodlebugs and frypaper fritters were the special for the day, but we weren’t paying particular attention on account of the great musty water buffalo mounted prominently on the wall behind the vending area. the unrelieved funk of the water in the slop-sink nearly undid the man at the front of the line. “why me?” he had suddenly cried out in the wildest tones. but to the rest of us it was only so much scattered background babble. we filled in his vacant place like water seeking its level.
the question arose from time to time of my origins, my background, as it were. I had successfully avoided all inquiries along these lines for some time, naturally, but eventually I slipped because of flattery. these things happen all the time. the Parisian flymonger (M. Mouchepiquer) had leaned casually across the table and openly admired my headdress. where had it come from? I can see him floating before me now, the mustachioed fop, may he roast on Satan’s sharpest spit! the oblique effrontery of the whole thing chagrins me now, but at the time I was in need of the milk of human kindness, the honeyed grandeur of my yesterrealms, the yeasty fragrance of the my eager erstwhile Easters, eggwashed and pure, the thickly-strewn droves of fiddlestick prawns neatly pinned by a thousand needles. footpads, augurs, despots and dumbwaiters, everything had contrived to conspire against my august head. why? why me indeed? it is enough. ich habe genug. I answered him. fifteen words later the blood drained from my face and into his. he was ashamed to discover what he had not known he was asking for and I was terrified to have given it. it is enough.
bourgeois pastry-cakes orbit slowly through all the points of the compass about his head, spinning, spinning. I am spinning, but he is the one who sickens with the motion. I can see I must return now, indeed I have left already; he clings with abandon to his small fragment, nearly sucked along in my wake. I am vaulting off this tiny crust, now hurtling past a thousand firmaments each ignorant of the next. so small so small so small. they will fill my vacant place like water seeking its level.
pack a few memories to last an eternity, like a paperback on a subway: a darkened birthday in a hushed church awash in ancient music. parchment soaked in linseed oil lasts longer but lacks legibility. le-gi-bi-li-ty. crinkliness. all is clutter, noise and desire. all is need and heat. Sodom and Gamorrah do not fall! nothing really simplifies. the categorization of the ten thousand things is nothing but self-delusion. the soap squirts out of your hand every time. it must! else how could I be here to see it? I refute it thus! guesswork, happenstance, and faith. nothing more.
the agony of death informs the agony of life. the agony of life is separation; the agony of death is the separation from the understanding of separation. life presents one-ness but recognizes only separation. the ecstasy of life anticipates the ecstasy of death.
I might wish for one long unending evening of such even-tempered uncorporeal wanderings. A thousand avenues of earthly delight lit, every one, in flickering torchlight, lambent gasflame, ear-illumined with the grinding organ of the nearby parish church (always one at hand, just when you need it). why could you never see the ceiling, where the bats live, where the eunuchs crouch in darkness, shamed into near-invisibility? there is no other way to describe it. I have seen the face of God. would that I knew it were unique.
we, every one of us lives in a dream world —
our souls perch with uncertain purchase on this solid-seeming here,
shifting from foot to foot like anxious birds,
at once terrified and thrilled by
the namelessness of flight.