Wednesday, February 10, 2016

For The Box

After all, you rise from the sleeping bag, and wash your face in the stream: the sky a long unraveling skein of high white cloud, and the day's ten miles easy, well-known, ganz bekannt. Resurrect last night's fire, boil water for coffee -- just dump the grounds in the cup, and scoop off what floats to the top; the rest will settle to the bottom, more or less -- and anyway it's not unpleasant to chew the bitter bits of grounds that don't, while you trace your route again with a finger in the morning light, and your mind turns the green contour lines of the survey map into tactile impressions, so that you'll remember them. All that, we know.

No, the question is: are there really earless dogs, related to seals, that roam the pampas, or did César Aira make them up? "Otarias" his soldiers call them, "sea lions." Or "perras," "bitches." (Why the feminine?) So much I don't know, and the earlier part of my life all folding into darkness. You don't know at first, when you're eagerly moving into the future, that your past is winking out behind you: that very soon you are forgetting at the same easy pace as you learn. But enough. Ten miles today and we're happy. Even an old man can walk ten miles in a day.

As I strode out the door, at work, my left hand fell to my sword belt, grasping the imagined sheath at the neck. Old habit: then you're ready, at need, to draw your sword quickly and surely with your right. How many years since I first imagined that, or imagined it clearly? Yet that, at least, has not faded. Leaving a tent, or an office building, I throw my head back, my nostrils flare, and my left hand falls casually to my belt. Those who trust memory because it's deep and ingrained, take heed: doesn't make it true.

And the inlaid box of memories, can I place these there? I have no other place for them.

Lift my head and look at the moon:
Bow my head, and think of home.

1 comment:

rbarenblat said...

Beautiful, you.