Startled by the shrill cries of feathered sable-winged imps, I awaken.
I stumble with purpose to the bathroom, turn on the faucet, allowing the stark cold deluge of life to overtop my cupped hands. Perched over the sink like a sordid mendicant in the throes of his final prostration, I am momentarily transfixed by the effortless and inconstant swishing and swirling, movement upon movement, all manner of transparent, tenuous being turning back on itself.
Just as soon as it is there, it is not, and no sooner it is there again. In a singular thrust my face is fully immersed, arising to a glass bespattered with errant streams scurrying toward the white porcelain base like fugitive tears from a dozen eyes, giving it a cracked and mottled appearance. I am confronted by a mere semblance of a man, slipping in and out of definition, his visage melting and separating into disjointed components of an indifferent and superfluous reality.
I peer out of the kitchen window, expecting to find the imps alighting on the balcony’s ledge. They usually gather around at this time to discuss the day’s events, to celebrate the passing whispers of days and seasons, to plan, plot, make love, then polish their sleek sweptback wings for yet another excursion.
They are gone. Treeless limbs rest lethargically in the distance, valgus and brittle. The rays of a rapidly descending sun cast them in a particularly stark and reprehensible relief. I make my way to the door, turning back once to take in this vast expanse of muddled ambitions. For the first time I leave it unlocked. A clear, bitter calipash congeals around my neck, through my nose, and over my eyes no sooner than I can manage two steps outside, asphyxiating me whole with stoic hands that only toil in withered fields.
I push my way past a gaggle of unkempt urchins frolicking aimlessly along the side street that eventually leads up to the old abandoned tea house two or so blocks east. I make my way south down towards the sparsely-dressed hillock that seems to be in perpetual solicitation for souls or at least a once-in-a-year ablution from the fleeting but curious clouds.
To my right is the road to Happy Ville where I often drowned myself in liquid sanity and floated along swells of lusty, sweltering bacchants with no faces. A particularly fearsome bacchante bedecked in an exotic suite of blue nainsook, rose beads and flowers coruscates with vulgar abandon, cheered on enthusiastically by bearded virtuoso vagabonds camped on the corner with whatever managed to produce just enough euphonious strands of harmony to get them through another night.
Two knights perched on horses look on with authority half subdued by prurient amusement. Tonight I drift along implacable currents of beings who knew no care but their own, bodiless heads weaving in and out of art galleries and watering holes like little organic molecules connected by skeins of dilapidated spirits and proud destitution. For all the activity, there is no life in this place.
I stand atop the hillock and set my gaze on the lake below, coloring it with what little my eyes have left. Forms arise, disappear, then back again, but always stagnant, an enticing tableau vivant bedewing my affections with delicate but devilish hands. My form is incomplete, my body a disjointed mass turning back on itself to find completion in a broken world. “It’s all vain, vain,” I cry, wringing my sweaty hands as I ponder the depths for all the answers I’ve ever needed.
Art: “Turquoise Blues III” Carolyn Zimmerman