Thursday, December 14, 2006

cLAWED tOES

The boy in the hat tipsy-toed onto the rope, nimbly, so as not to snag a golfer’s tack or an untied shoelace, and balanced himself with a rake handle, which he held even with the trough of his pelvic bone. He had read in the back pages of a comic book, where the advertisements for spyglasses and fake moustaches always caught his eye, that expert tightrope walkers seldom lost their balance, as they learned how to hold their breath, breathing morosely through their noses. He wondered why they were sad, and then realized that tightrope walkers, especially experts, had clawed toes and trenches in the bottoms of their feet, from creeping along ropes like thieves, their eyes trained on some imaginary spot in front of them. He checked the rope for tautness, corrected the jib of his belt and practiced holding his breath. He coughed, then sneezed, dry blood zigzagging from his nose, checked his pant’s for the washers he’d put in his pockets to ensure a proper distribution of bodily freight, and checked the rope a second time. He decided to kill a squirrel instead; the one that had built a nest in the elm out of twine and rotting leaves, and was now scurrying along the rope like a defiant child. There was room for only one tightrope walker, as the tautness of the rope could accommodate only eighty-five pounds, so he had figured out with a slide rule and a plumber’s grease pencil, both pilfered from his father’s tool chest that he kept stowed under the workbench in the garage next to his coveralls and a rusty grass scythe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He killed a squirrel? Damn those acrobats are ruthless brutes.

Gary

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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