Friday, October 27, 2006

One day, I bought a train ticket

I slept well. No better or worse than usual. I went to sleep after an average day, and dreamt average dreams. It was the waking that was unusual. I usually spend these mornings skipping between wakefulness and sleep until hunger or bladder draws me from the warmth of the duvet. This morning I awoke like a switch had been flipped between the two states of consciousness. flip. sleep. flip. awake. Yet, I was certainly still dreaming. Wasn’t I? My room was unfamiliar. Strange hues of light came from the open window, pushed aside the curtains with the breeze and painted the opposite wall. The duvet wrapped around me ceased its metaphoric similarity with a womb. Its fabric indeed held the warmth and feel of flesh. My ear pressed to the pillow heard a heart beat. Was it in time with my own? Was it mine I heard? Sensing sacrilege to leave my bed so early on a weekend, I wriggled in bed to find a position to better fight the growing compulsion to jump out of bed and greet this strange new day. My hand brushed against something. I brought it up from the depths of the covers like a treasure hunter’s first doubloon. I held it close for examination. It resembled an elongated sun-dried tomato. Its black-red paper skin was shiny and thin. Giving it a pinch between my two fingers revealed a spongy springiness to the mass within. I set it aside on the nightstand and surrendered to the fate of waking up early. I threw the duvet to the side and the morning’s chill hit me. Sitting up I rubbed the sleep away from my eyes. Each step tickled my bare feet. I raised a foot and felt the sole. Nothing unusual was found. I stood there wiggling my toes into the carpet like a barefoot child in freshly cut grass. I felt the individual fibres pressed against my feet. I brushed along the carpet with my foot in an arc before me. The disturbed fibres caught the light from another angle and shimmered like beach sand. The newness of everything around me was captivating. I had to touch everything on my way to the bathroom. Picture frames with their cold glass faces, and the finger prints left on the pictures of moments past, frozen faces of familiar people striking unnatural poses. Plastic light switches that felt like a single loose tooth wiggling in its socket. Latex painted walls with their dusty and chemical taste. The smell of last night’s burnt dinner still lingered to tease my nostrils. Everything was beautiful and right and perfect. But. But, I was not prepared for the newness that met my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I stood there lost at the stranger who stared at me from behind the sink. The features were the same. The same blue eyes tucked in snug under heavy and puffy lids. The same quick wrinkles came running from the corners of the eyes towards the protection of the thick growth of hair, which still only showed the occasional grey wisps. The same thin lips which revealed only the slightest line pink, but it was certainly someone else’s reflection. Fear rushed through my nerves and turned my empty stomach. The movement was wrong. The stranger aped me perfectly but something was wrong. I tried to ignore it. I turned on the hot water and got ready to take a shower. Occasionally, I peeked at the strange version of me going through the same motions. Is this what I look like? I am distracted by the whisper of the water pouring into the tub. Swirls of water slipped down the drain. Individual drops leapt onto the inside of the tub. They cling for a moment and then are bumped from above as another drop slides down. I dropped my pyjamas to the floor and am about to step into the tub when I see my reflection from the corner of my eye. I paused, not wanting to confirm this new discovery. Timidly, I looked down at my own body, and reflection was not lying. My breath rushed out of me and I leapt back like I had been burnt.
completely smooth. completely hairless. completely sexless. like a little girl’s doll. nothing but a Môn pubis bump. There was no mark, no injury, no pain. No sign that there was ever anything. I sunk to the bathroom floor staring at the unblemished skin where my cock was last perched like the ridiculous proboscis of some pubic beast. Had I abused myself the night before? Surely no bout of self love could inflict such an injury. Such absurd thoughts ran through my mind. I tried to calm myself. Things could be worse, but I had a hard time thinking of examples or supporting arguments. I felt the spot and cupped what was not there to be cupped. I leaned back against the wall, stared at the ceiling, and watched the steam cloud race toward extinction. What had I eaten? What had I done? Should I call a doctor? What do I say? What specialist do you call for such a complaint? The bizarreness and absurdity of the situation made it difficult to appreciate its tragedy. Is there a lost and found department for such incidents? Would I have to sift through a half full box of forgotten umbrellas, eye glasses, and other men’s members? What am I going to do?
Articulate thoughts slowly were clouded over as I watched the steam materialize on the bathroom mirror. It slowly gained ground on the unfogged portions of the mirror like the rising tide drowning more and more beach with each breaking wave. After, what I learnt was several hours, I returned attention to my missing penis, but with an unexpected serenity, my sexless fate no longer concerned me. The bathroom was in a complete fog with occasional strands slipping guiltily away under the door. I got into the shower and felt each drop hit my skin.
That was two days ago. Things are so different now. A caterpillar gains two wings in its metamorphosis. I lost a cock. I constantly drifted into a meditative mindset about the blandest of thing. Huge amounts of time would escape while I stood staring at rain drops under a street lamp or listening to the timber of a deep-voiced barista whose confirmation of orders and statement of prices vibrated in my chest. Yet, the strange looks or occasional impatience I encountered never troubled me. The world was lost to me in that I ceased being a participant, but the world was found by constantly seeing it for the first time. One day, I bought a train ticket.
I bought a train ticket and left everything I knew. I took my seat, tickets still in hand and waited for the train to leave the station.
The train window showed me blurry pictures of the rows of cardboard houses perched along the rusty rail tracks, and blank green canvases dotted with ewes and their spring lambs. Running east, the train turned to follow the coast. Tears instantly blinded me. They chased each other towards my chin without sobs. There was no sadness, but a beauty so intense my chest felt compressed. A heavy weight constricted my breath to shallow sips of air. I wiped my face and closed my eyes to ease the pressure. When, I opened them again, the sensation was no less intense. I continued to watch the calm dark green for as long as I could until the ache made me short of breath. Right before I felt I would lose consciousness, I would close my eyes tight and hold my head. The pain would subside, and I would look once more. Moths willingly burn themselves upon the candle’s light and now I know why.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Today is a day for poetry. Years ago a poet died. It doesn’t matter too much which one. Poets die. This one was dying for years until the job was finished properly in a Florida hospital. His death day is a marker for poets of his breed who too have died or will. I believe . . . yes . . . I believe it is a day for sentimentality and not for such dark tones of loss.

How about this from another dead poet:

Sonnet V – Pablo Neruda

I did not hold your night, or your air, or the dawn:
only the earth, the truth of the fruit in clusters,
the apples that swell as they drink the sweet water,
the clay and resins of your sweet smelling land.

From Quinchamali where your eyes began
to the Frontera where your feet were made for me,
you are my dark familiar clay:
holding your hips, I hold the wheat in its field again.

Woman from Arauco, maybe you didn't know
how before I loved you I forgot your kisses.
But my heart went on, rememebering your mouth - and I went on

and on through the streets like a man wounded,
until I understood, Love: I had found
my place, a land of kisses and volcanoes.

--translation by Stephen Tapscott

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I am a fretter, one who frets. I don’t know how this happened. I am a bookish softy, but somewhere my genes are the makings of a right tough son-of-a-bitch. I vividly remember my grandfather standing at the screen door of the porch calling for his wife to bring him her sewing kit. He was holding his thumb tightly and close to his chest. From between the fingers, steady tributaries of blood flowed. He patiently waited on the front step because he dare not spill his blood on grandmother’s carpet. Nothing wrong with being house proud, she would say.

The only sense of urgency came in response to grandma’s casual queries as to why ever would he want her sewing kit. He replied, “Damnit woman. Quit your fussing and bring me some thread and a needle.” He embarrassed himself by his impoliteness. He softened his tone to ask me to come outside with him because he was going to need my help.
Grandma was not as composed when she stepped to the screen door. The “oh my god” refrain repeated peppered with phrases like “what have you done now?” and “what happened?”
“I’ll be alright. The boy is going to help.”
“Are you sure?”
“Sure. I'm sure.” He turned to me and motioned, “C’mon.” I followed him to the picnic bench where we usually ate watermelon sprinkled with salt and spat the seeds at grandma’s multitude of cats that were constantly milling about the farm.
So far I had followed these events with the uncomprehending stoicism that only children are capable of. This impassivity failed me when grandpa charged me with the duty to hold the torn flesh of his thumb together while he stitched with light blue thread the gash that ran from the tip of the digit to the meat of his palm.
I started to feel cold flushes and grandpa must have noticed the colour leave my face. He buttressed my consciousness by his deep and grumbling voice, “You alright, boy?”
“Yes, sir.”
“We’re almost done here.” (We were not. He had not yet sewn a third of the way.)

It took all four of my small fingers of each of my hands on either side of the long cut to match its edges together. His skin was sticky from the drying blood and if I moved my fingers, the cut would open again and provide a fresh dollop of blood.
“Steady now.” Grandpa would say.

Grandma came out with a bottle of rubbing alcohol to wash out the infection.
“Go on.” He nodded to her, pausing his sewing. She poured the clear liquid over our hands as timidly as if the resulting pain would be felt by her instead of her husband. Grandpa registered the pain by closing his eyes tightly for an extended pause.
“Alright. That’ll do. Mama can you get some clean rags or bandages if we got ‘em?”
“Yes dear. Hold on.”
“Let’s get this done before that woman tries to kill me again.” He whispered with a smirk and a mischievous wink. He finished his uneven but sufficient suture and no more notice or mention was given to the injury wrapped in gauze and sealed with a small strip of duct tape.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I lose faith and interest in humanity on a daily basis. We can't be far now from what the newspapers have been aching for, which is a headline that reads "Muslims! Run for you your life!" In the South that's what racism looks like. It's bold and up front, its horror and ugliness born bare for all to see. There's no "I ain't racist or nothing..." preamble. I prefer that to the gentile racism of the North and Europe where pig-ignorance and bigotry is usually swathed in middle class lefty patronisation or couched in politically corrected doublespeak.

But I digress. Instead I want to show the little things that help redeem my estimation of our little confused collective watusi upon this earth.

Usually for me it is the ridiculous that I find comforting. More often than not it is also the profane. I was reading Iggy Pop and the Stooge’s concert rider. It’s a thoroughly fun read through out. In it Iggy Pop’s stage presence is referred to as “He’ll be all over the place like a mad woman’s shit.” There are plenty other gorgeous moments of ridiculousness to be found. Check it out and forget for a moment that the world is ugly and full of misery.

As my mom used to say, "god bless his pointed little head".