Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Marmoreal Asylum

‘stop that thumping, can’t you see I’m trying to read?’ said the legless man. ‘trying or can?’ said the alms man, ‘there is a difference’. Grumbling the legless man returned to his paper, his eyes squinting to make sense of the squiggles and curvy lines. ‘either one reads, and therefore can, or one can’t read, or not too well and is trying to read… the difference is quite obvious, don’t you think’. ‘fuck your difference’ cuffed the legless man, ‘...anyhow the light is dim in here’. ‘you mean faint, don’t you?’ said the alms man petulantly. ‘ dims the lights, which means they were at one time bright’. ‘have you nothing better to do that correct me?’ said the legless man gruffly. ‘no, nothing that I can think of’ answered the alms man. The lights inside the tunnel under the Waymart that leads to the pumphouse below the aqueduct flickered on and off, the alms man snickering to himself, ‘and then there was dimness’.

Bedridden and bedraggled the harridan awoke, her eyes sticky with sleep. Before taking to bed she’d read one of the pamphlets left behind by the Witness, the phrase ‘God loves those who love Him’ racing in her thoughts. ‘Job loves those who love Job’ she said to herself, her nightgown whittling between her legs.

Sauerwald stowed his socks in a panzerkassette once owned by a childminder known only as Resy, though many suspect her family name was Krüll or Kroll, or perhaps Krill. Or Celina, her name might have been Celina. She was known far and wide for her oblomovisms. She was a person prone to inaction, sloth-like, unable to move an inch from her bed without the aid of a friend or lowly acquaintance. Hung over her bed was a needlework that exclaimed, "All his anxiety resolved itself into a sigh and dissolved into apathy and drowsiness." (Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov) Back then the Marmoreal Asylum catered to the senile and the moribund, Sauerwald having lived there in his twenties, a young nursemaid by the name of Krill running the patients’ canteen.

When he recalled these times he felt a shiver corseting down his spine, a wintriness that accompanied thoughts of past things and passed persons. Awakening he lay half-sleep ruffled beneath the covers, his head crushed into the boxboard, the sky outside his lean-to as sinister as a villain’s cape.

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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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