“Close to the road we sit down one day.
Now our life amounts to time, and our sole concern
The attitudes of despair we adopt
While we wait.”
Someone has written an essay on riddles, itself a series of riddles; the sentences growing smaller like Russian dolls within dolls. I was winding the stem of my watch. I was reading the essay when the mechanism broke: the stem came away in my hand. A magpie walked over the lawn, stopping here and there to pick at its feathers. A hint of rain was coming on the southern wind. There was the sound of far of laughter among strangers. Then there was silence. I remembered a poem, something to do with the suspended air in Robert Browning’s study; minute after minute of stillness, a faint perfume about the curtains.
I found a diary once, the handwritten notes of a Finnish soldier who had hidden himself in a stranger’s house during the Winter War. The house’s owner had fled because the Soviets were advancing. But somehow the Russians never came. In turn, the soldier remained in the abandoned farmhouse, listening to the sounds of deep winter. Roof beams creaked. Branches scratched at the windows; he heard imaginary animals in the snow. Then the writing stopped. The majority of the pages in the notebook were empty. I’d found it on a table at a Helsinki flea market . I bought it. Later I lost it when I moved across the United States one summer.
I receive a letter from a stranger who writes that he’s going blind. He sees things as if he’s staring through a drinking straw. “I went to the Dunkin’ Donuts to buy a pound of coffee. I was on my way home from church—it was one of my first solo trips with the white cane. I thought I’d get some coffee for my wife. I stood in line and waited my turn. I held the blind man’s cane in my hand. Then I saw a kid standing behind the counter—he was right in front of me and gesturing for the amusement of the cashiers. He was forcing an illusory head down on his crotch—my head—I didn’t know what to say. So I said nothing. Just ordered my coffee. I stared straight into his face with my drinking straw. He was mouthing it: “blow me!” And I managed to withhold any trace of expression. Someone brought the bag of coffee and I turned away.”
The Platonic riddles and the Freudian riddles; Thanatos opens his hairy wings.
The Platonic riddle: Who can we imagine standing outside the cave?
The Freudian riddle: Who can we imagine stands inside the cave?
And either way life is cruel and short.
Outside the window where I am currently staying there is an orange tree. Tiny wasps fly through the Spanish Moss and circle very delicately in the shadows like falling seeds. I can see this because with one eye I am able to get up close and by staying still I am allowed to glory in the motions of these half transparent, almost molecular dragons there among the oranges.
I am lonely, I am lonely, I am best so…
Life is simple. Keep writing.