Thursday, December 10, 2009

Redditch and the Calf

His mamma told him that he was an albatross hanged on the neck of the world. His mamma spat him out onto the winter table, the midwife giggling like a schoolgirl. From that day on he gasped for life, his mamma wishing him dead. In order to understand the difference between life and dying you must suspend your belief in miracles; the difference between life and dying is no different than the difference between gasping for breath and lying still; both require attention to detail, a sense of finitude and immanence.

Redditch held the calf’s head between his legs and pulled, the head splicing in half. Redditch appeared one Christmas eve, gunnysack slung over his shoulder, a halo of bluebottles circling his head. Rubbing the back of his head he took in the land from atop the knoll, his eyes the size of coat buttons. The difference between Redditch and the calf: the calf hadn’t a hope in hell. When they were boys Redditch and the man in the hat shared a taste for Indian chewing tobacco and wax cigars full of juice. The man in the hat and Redditch shared their spoils behind the Greek Deli, Redditch the better of the two at stealing. It was the man in the hat’s job to keep the Seder Grocer busy while Redditch stole his way past the rabbis' inspection block, the top bleached clean, to the counter where the Grocer kept the penny candy. He once overheard the rabbi saying to the Grocer, ‘the boy’s without a czar in his head’. ‘a simpleminded fool’ replied the Grocer, ‘indeed’ said the Rabbis, ‘and he will only worsen as he gets older’.

Men in hats and enormous greatcoats, women dressed in frills and waist-fitted jackets, scrawny boldfaced children in tow. They all came out for the Procession of the Unholy Sinner, the rector’s assistant leading the way to the steps of the Church of the Perpetual Sinner, the littlest dogman eying them from behind a thorn bush. The procession worked its way up the sidewalk and through the park behind the Waymart, stopping to wait for a child to pee on a rock, then picking up speed approached the church where the assistant to the rector’s assistant stood on the topmost step waving a Christly flag.

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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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