Now we sit and play with a tiny toy elephant that travels a taut string. Now we are used and use in turn each other. Our hats unravel and that in itself is tragic. To be lost. To have lost. Verbs like veritable engines pulling the train of thought forward. The hat is over- turned and out comes a rabbit. Out comes a man with a monocle. Out comes a Kaiser. Yikes, it's history, that ceiling comprised of recessed squares, each leg a lifeline, each lie a wife's leg. A pulled velvet cord rings a bell and everyone comes running to watch while a year plummets into the countdown of an open mouth. A loop of razor wire closes around the circumference of a shaken globe of snow. Yellowed newsprint with its watery text, a latticework of shadow thrown onto the clear screen of the prison wall. From a mere idea comes the twine that gives totality its name. What is a theory but a tentacle reaching for a wafer of reason. The inevitable gap tragic. Sure, tragic.
She slept through the earthquake in Spain.
The day after was full of dead things. Well, not full but a few.
Coming in the front door, she felt the crunch of a carapace
under her foot. In the bathroom, a large cockroach
rested on its back at the edge of the marble surround; the dead
antennae announced the future by pointing to the silver eye
that would later gulp the water she washed her face with.
Who wouldn't have wished for the quick return
of last night's sleep? The idea, she knew, was to remain awake
and while walking through the day's gray fog, trick the vaporous
into acting like something concrete: a wisp of cigarette smoke,
for instance, could become a one-inch Lego building
seen in the window of a bus blocking the street.
People sometimes think of themselves as a picture that matches
an invented longing: a toy forest, a defaced cricket, the more
or less precious lotus. The night before the quake, she took a train
to see a comic opera with an unlikely plot. She noticed a man
in a tan coat and necktie who looked a lot like Kafka.
The day after, she called a friend to complain about the bugs.
From a distant city—his voice low and slightly plaintive—he said,
Aren't you well? Is there anything you want?