The next few posts will be those “short stories” that did not finally go off to Fluster Magazine for their recent short story competition. Leftovers in other words, or the puppies left in the barn…
Because Everyone Wants to Know
I want you to know that I’m using the blue notebook and pen that you left. Why? Because you asked. Because everyone wants to know.
In other words, if it’s going to count for something, something that really matters, it’s going to have to be special, set apart, somehow final and complete. I’ll use it for the whole shebang – my photos, drawings and more – all in this blue notebook with its matching ball-point pen, for you. Because, apparently, everyone wants to know.
Yes, mom and dad have asked (in their roundabout, passive-aggressive, surreptitiously accusatory way, as is their fashion), kindly, quiet, with ever the look of care and concern (secretly shouting their “what is wrong with you?” and “what is wrong with us that you…”) and so on…
It really wasn’t like this my first five years of life or so, that I remember. But then what I mostly remember from that time are smells and sounds and light. Trees, grass, dirt, how the light glanced and filtered through, times of wind and rain.
Not that you care. I’m fairly certain that that is not what you are asking for, nor them, nor my siblings or “lifetime of ‘friends’ and family,” whoever, wherever they’ve become.
So you’re the livewire, and perhaps our children. Perhaps they will want to know too, at some point. Perhaps not. Perhaps everyone’s already figured my story – diagnosed and prescribed. Perhaps.
Be that as it may, I’ve thought long and hard about this. Reviewing all I think I know, how I feel I felt, what it seems I’ve seen and so on, and decided, for you, for you, really, and maybe a little bit for me (curiosity) and I suppose a percentage for the kids should they ever wonder, or need it for their psychological freedom, or ever give a shit about who or why…I decided to use your god-damned blue notebook with its little matching pen and find out just what I think about it all, mostly because, at least as you put it, “everyone wants to know.”
Should I start with my hands or my head or my heart? I suppose the limbs and loins will come into play here too, god knows the guts and goiter.
I remember, there was an opening. A time you touched me, in the rain. Suddenly, my skin. My self-enclosure became an opening, a veil, a fabric. A screen.
I wanted to make a difference, you know. Make something. I don’t know what – construct something everyone could hold on to. Take in hand, heart and head. Keep or repeat as needed. Something like that. I knew I wasn’t going to last, that none of this was, nothing. A “center cannot hold” type of thing.
I can’t begin there. It’s all wound up together like a knot: head looking down, arms wrapped around, concealing and revealing my heart, the guts, loins and moving limbs. I’m unable to take one without the other, now that I think and feel about it, my actions…
Perhaps I’ll pretend. (Just what you always loved so well about me – to find out I was pretending – molding myself to perceived desires). I’ll pretend that I’m an old man seated on a stiff wooden chair, children and grandchildren gathered all around – like a specimen, a model – something you take apart, observe, examine. I’ll shakily lift off my shirt and “everyone” can read my body, ask their questions. That might get us somewhere.
Let’s see, here along the shoulder – a self-portrait by the artist Egon Schiele (self-tormenting asylum brother), and a snake eating its tail. “The Ouroborous” I’d hack out – “don’t you know it kids?” Sign of doctors and alchemy, medicine and art; creation and destruction entwined, going round and round. Self-devouring while giving birth to your own, form as it changes. Chewing up and regurgitating the “I.”
One of the little critters may point and ask “what’s that? All those curlicues and fancy lines?” Federico Garcia Lorca’s signature, I’d sigh. Ah yes. Little leaping bugger of light. He’s yellow and lemons and crickets and birds. You know the stuff that sends you – portal moments of sight or song – a-ha!’s. When all the crap that’s pelted and melted in your brains gets shaken together like a surrealist still life. Incongruity making sense. Opposites attract, no, even better, look at your old mama and I – a juxtaposed spectrum and fantastic balancing paradox – a carnival!
Well, you wanted to know.
And there’s Kafka, Blanchot, Cixous and Lispector. Jabes and Beckett now seeped in my veins. Dostoevsky, Bakhtin and Rilke. Writers all, I’d say, them that fed the innards my life gave rise to. Gods and angels, drink and demons all beneath the skin of their names. Nietzsche – ridiculous happiness. Wittgenstein and the torment of words, of meanings, of none. I’m a walking inscription, on the surface.
To touch on that. Head, heart, hands.
Are you sure anyone wants to know?
The sounds of a piano, that too. Coaxing keys to a steady patter – mimicking rain. Or poems, yes, we forgot Giacometti’s Man Falling – perpetual stumble on the back of my hand, the hoping that neither knows what the other is up to. But they do. I see that now. All part of the same body, stretched in the same cells. Poems as stripped-down sculpture, some essential chant or spell – just a gaze, a whisp of caress, a drop of blood. The miracle that something remains after we’re all done twisting and grasping at it.
Is this what you wanted? Does it explain…anything? I hardly think so.
Here in the ribs. The cracked and lumpen one. There was a time. A time I thought maybe risk or danger – some gasping euphoria – some panicked life – might vitalize. How’d you think you all got here? Desperate plunges into the unknown, dear ones, mad scientists messing around in the lab! At the edge of cliffs, out on proverbial limbs, insecure at wit’s end, to go for broke.
And break we did.
But then look at you fertile seeds, you good eggs. I never meant to be rough with you all. To risk what is fragile in you. Ribs, here, a cave and cage for the heart.
I still breathe you (examining the lungs). Charred and chortled, this was one great pleasure – to know I was breathing, in-spired. I know you all hated it and it caused me to smell real bad, but the rush of smoke down this pipe here into the bellows of slimy flesh…that told me I was taking it in. Not some automaton or senseless machine, no, I was hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling – I could feel it in my ashen lungs. With every breath. And sometimes it hurt. What we ingest. But it was really going in, and visibly coming out – all of it – for good or ill. I needed to know it.
Why, you ask, why?
Look at that cranium stooped and weighed down. That sucker was a burden of liquid fire. All curled over like that all of my life, looking in, at, in. What’s there? How does it work? For whom? When? (Is there even why?) Examining and dreaming, recording to imagine – listen, say it back, say it forth, combine and copulate, shake it and stir – use that heavy weight – whirr whirr, charge and whirr. Profile the shape of a jagged question mark, dotted where the heart must be.
There it is now, nearly buried in the chest. It happens. Weather-systems, signsponge, it all runs its course. Oh it used to be pointed upwards and outwards, into fantasies and abstractions; then for years I kept it aiming straight ahead – horizontal and seeking direction – but slowly and surely it drags down toward the heart, the muscle pulsing, the plug for all the cords. Everything up and away, out there or behind, it all happens here – filtering through – latched up or broken down, in the system.
What was it you wanted to know? Head, hands, heart, limbs and loins, I’m acknowledging, affording view. Yes I’m aware that description doesn’t explain a thing – wonderful world of science – how to explain?
Waste processed below, and there has always been plenty of it. Legs down there often running away or at cross-purposes, now knobby and stiff. And then there, clinging to its corner like a core, that erratic, agitated, beaten and beating beast. Entire web of inexplicable drive and energy, fear and misery, desire and dread – my heart. Does this explain it? What everyone wanted to know?
Gasping there like the mouth of a fish on land, pulsing purplish like my aroused member – my heart. If I poke at it and coax it, tear it out and wring it onto this blue notebook with white pages, this blue blood, will it explain?
Here, whomever, look. Here it lies, cheats and steals. Here it gives and aches and breaks. Here it prolongs and stops short. Pulpy mass of living beast, humana, the am therefore am. Take it, read it, test it. Heal it if you wish or can. I’m open.
Is this what you wanted?
What everyone wants to know?
N Filbert 2012