Two from The Fatherlands


She is a woman of tattered happenings. From province to province, she goes, talking and taking always the road that curves under the hand of god, as she is known to say. On her face, the wind is a quiet pretense, as if the air soft against her flesh in truth signifies a single and sorrowful force upon earth. Her garments are of humble origins, pieced together from the vestments of fallen priests whom, in their boyhood, she once coddled within the cloisters of a warm dread. “Today the sun belongs to another world,” she whispers into the ear of a sleeping dog. Bent over and short of breath, she exhausts herself in the things she says, for she is perpetual as the debris of days past. Up ahead, a boy slim in the bony figure of an omen traces his finger along the distance she is still to travel. She is seven paces from the present, and he marks her sacred game of falling behind with the words of a prayer.



It is time, reports the city to itself, and so the city packs up and gets away from itself, to the great outdoors it goes on holiday. There it inhales the woodland winds, there it chases wild game, delights in campfire and starry nights, there it squats down on the forest floor, only the tips of its tallest buildings seen above the treetops. And on the rooftop of one such building, there lies an unclean boy in a net hung like a hammock between the roof’s red brick and ironwork. The boy has trapped himself in the conceivables, captivated by the corners of his own mind. As he sways in his net, considering the nature of ends, a soft spot for the means takes shape inside him, a flowering love for algorithms and acorns. Relaxed in his reflection, he computes the certain migration of birds above, as if their flight were fixed against an endless sky through which he scrolls and scrolls. Blue and bluer still, the days go behind him and beside him a woman who could be his mother is crawling with insects, her life now a bitten thing and about to fall off. The city has overstayed its holiday, for the wilderness pushes in on its bridges and tunnels and against the glass of its skyscrapers, infesting its streets and spaces with its vermin. She has come climbing the fire escape to tell the boy as much but her mind has maddened in all the more places and instead she lies clawing at the air, babbling about other people’s futures as if they were her own. Little can be made of her words but it is clear she thinks the boy is to one day have a son and that this son is herself young, full of unthinkable urges and beauty. The boy of course cannot hear her at his side, as his ears are dirtier than ever, purposely stopped up with the wax of his own head, listening solely to the pure thought of himself.


excerpts from The Fatherlands (Monkey Puzzle Press 2014)



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