Monday, May 16, 2011

Hermanas de la Misericordia

Try as he might Poldy couldn’t thread the needle of his life. The thread he’d been given was too frayed, coming apart like a reed basket, incapable of tying together the loose ends, the missed opportunities and false-starts of his mediocre existence, his lie of life. He remembered playing cat’s cradle and never learning how to pass off the string or get his thumb to respond; the cradle collapsing, his partner scolding him for being clumsy. He saw him again; his legs dragging behind him like coils of rope, feet crippled with polio, hands clutching wooden blocks tied to his wrists with old clothesline. He pulled himself across the blacktop stopping every few feet to reposition his weight, then pushing down hard on his elbows aligned his shoulders with the cracks in the sidewalk, loose stones and gravel leaving their imprint on his forearms and hands, then bowing his back, his ribcage and sternum snapping, continued on his way, those around him making no effort to hide the fear and repulsion on their faces. Lela saw him; his faint image; the Sisters of Charity cajoling him to give his worthless life over to God; the Witness, shoving a pamphlet into his face saying ‘God recognizes only those who recognize Him… and you… God doesn’t see… doesn’t recognize Himself in you… you have yet to be born… dead, that’s what you are… living dead among the living’.

Baying like barkers at a circus sideshow the sisters ate until their skirts ballooned like spinnaker cloth. Sister Magdalene and sister Mary, stuffing custard trumpets into their mouths, throwing their arms over their heads over their heads crying ‘living among the dead… living among the dead… He doesn’t see you because you’re living among the dead’. Juan Alvarado, Juan Miguel Padilla, don Juan Teoria, Juan Bautista, Juan McQueen, Juan Carlos Salazar and Abuja Juan Rodriquez ate their fill and left, Juan Miguel Padilla griping over the pasty consistency of the gravy. Bathos gave them fair warning that the Sisters of Mercy would never allow a foreigner to enter the Hall of Sinners. This has gone beyond insane, its insanely! Impeccably madly insane! Who’s to know? Know who is whom is who. Are these the things that occupy a madly insane mind? Insane yes, madly insane, who’s to tell. Skirts ballooning like jib cloth.

Poldy stood scowling at his reflection in the grocer’s window, the sun just barely just above the Waymart clocktower. Taking it all in, the sky and the ground and the buildings stretched like cattle along the horizon, he knew that the day had something different, unusual in store for him. He’d come a long way since the last time; farther than he’d ever come or gone before. Living among the dead was nothing more than an inconvenience, a passing that could be remedied with salt and strong prayer.

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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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