Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Tall Spiraling Bush

‘--how often is often?’ the harridan’s sister asked. The harridan’s sister asked questions mostly of strangers or people she ran into in the street. If she didn’t get an answer she asked a second third and fourth time. ‘--where is Torrent Cataluna?’ she asked pointing. ‘can I get there by boat?’ ‘how often does the boat leave if it leaves for there?’ pointing. Out from behind a tall spiraling bush approached a poacher, his gunnysack slung crosswise over his shoulder. Pointing she asked ‘poacher, can get me from here to there?’ ‘I can take you as far as Pietarsaari…’ said the poacher, ‘…maybe Mendoza’. ‘Mendoza…’ pointing ‘…I’ve always wanted to go to Mendoza’. ‘give me your hand’.

A green leaf sky, the tree outside his window in full leaf. As he waited for the feast to begin, he reckoned noontime, half-past on the outside, he picked his gums with the half-moon of his thumbnail. ‘sure I could..’ he said thinking he could eat a horse, or a back loin or shaker. Trimming the fat, separating the whey from the curd, the wheat from the chaff. He’d been to the Waldau Sanatorium once before, the day after Christmas 1959. He’d overheard two men with fat crumbly-skin talking about the Transhumance, a tribe of natural runners who live deep in the red canyons somewhere in Mexico. ‘barefooted’ said one of the fat crumby-skin men, ‘they run without shoes’. He’d been a patient at the cantonal sanitarium of Appenzell-Ausserhoden in Herisau since June, moving to the Waldau Sanatorium after Christmas 1958. He had a hard time remembering when he was a patient at the Appenzell-Ausserhoden, thinking that it might have been the Waldau Sanatorium Christmas 1958 or 59. He had a difficult time distinguishing between sanatoriums and madhouses, places he’d been in the 1950’s, placed he’d been taken against his will by roughhouse men in white jackets. He remembered reading a note written on one of the madhouse wall, the pale green wall, “Some who jumped had fiery wings, their heads burned, or their hands, and they looked like strange birds who could scream but couldn’t fly.”

His moustache was longer, bushier then. Back then his moustache was blonde, like angle’s wings, not gray and wiry. He had hard white teeth with gold fillings then, not a salver that made his gums bleed. Back then, before he was taken against his will, he went crabbing with the man in the hat, sometimes the harridan and her sister. They all three had fun, jolly good fun. Now he was lucky if he was permitted a walk around the grounds, the custodian waving at him to stay away from the gate. Now was different then back then when things were simpler and less hot. Now he was always complaining about the buzzing in his ears, like bees in a bonnet, the custodian waving him off. The first time he felt it, his insides, he was eeling with the littlest dogman, the water calmer than death, his ears buzzing and hissing. That’s when he thought of ‘bees in a bonnet’, his forehead doubled in two. The pain was excruciating, the sound deafening, his back stiff as a dressed corpse. It was three o’clock, he remembered, the sun slinking behind the gatehouse bridge.
[1] Robert Walser, Theater Fire

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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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