Argentina Days

           after Paul Bowles

It gets dark. We return home. Tea.

As always when I arrive someplace, I spread my papers out on the desk and stand before the window. I gaze outside in private devotion, as if in the courtyard below there was a palette from which I were drawing paint. I grow restless, re-arrange, pace, fidget. If there is a tree I give myself to its wispy tree breath. Listen for the rustle of the wind, the sound sent by the trees for the birds to hear. The trees across this country sometimes spread their wide branches out like flags, jutting out over the land, a little too proud of themselves. Is it not the job of every tree, like great towering erasers, to push the words away? A Poplar tree, the breeze it blows, aren’t these the essential props of my life?

 

Shut the window. Whatever fruit is there is there to rot for the crows to catch.

Point yourself toward the bedroom. Try to avoid the mirror mounted on the wall.

Understand that one of the major ordeals of man is to face his mirror, but the force of another kind of humiliation is enough for you now. Scuttle across the floor to the bedroom like a crab across the sea floor—one eye glancing up to the surface of the water—careful not to be spotted.

Somewhere in the Galapagos Islands, a tortoise is being smothered by another tortoise. Flesh is swinging on a rope.

Pace, fidget, re-arrange. The pendulum swings on the branch of the Poplar tree outside. The smell of rot and mud.

Shut the door. Feel the air kiss your forearms a moment, a sense of the door still warm with vibration. Hear for a moment the echo of your own blood. Listen to the trace of a voice outside: The Lamp is on, the dogs lay on the rug. The details of this voice were crawling all over you like insects a few moments ago, and they left you practically absent.

The smell of rot and mud. Old fruit falling to the ground for the crows to catch.

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