From a window a man looks out: If I look at it I see reflections; as reflections are not by choice what I see, I look through all that, beyond that; glass is too thin to hold more than the thinnest reflection, and I know I am better than that, he thinks.
The reflection is a man with a pen, sitting at a desk with a cup of pens placed at the corner, looking out into the world. I know the reflection says little, and certainly what it says is not unimportant, though not important enough to be put into words; that is what reflections are: thin, wavy, unclear; a duplication of something that is real, the reflection pretending to be real- not even having the content, emotion or brain to not know it is real;
Americans do this: duplicate everything. One of something is not enough- there must be many, many, many, and so the man sitting at the desk looking out into the world with the pen in his hand knows, as he looks at his own reflection, that he is but one insignificant nobody, one of countless nobodies, a filler that is used to make something not singular and important, to make more filler to fill the emptiness, otherwise there would only be empty. Empty walking alongside empty. Insignificance walking alongside insignificance, filler that filled everything empty, and then filling more, like frosting that was layered onto everything and then melted, sliding down the edges of everything as everything was slowly sliding away and the cake under it all was falling apart…
holding his pen he wondered why he should write the letter, why should he take the time when there were other things to do, he could drink a beer and watch a game, he could then drink another beer and fry a steak on the grill; but it was too late at night and the game would not be real, at least not real in the sense of time that it was happening as he watched it in the ballpark, it would be real in that it already happened- beginning to end, and he knew the beginning and the end because it already happened, but in watching the game, drinking the beer he would be living it as if it was the first time; the difference would be that the first time he didn’t know the ending and now this first time he would watch knowing the ending. He saw nothing wrong in that. He understood that everything at some time or another is edited in some way or the other, and everyone knows the end of most things anyway- why not a sports game?
He decided to not watch the game, not because it would have been a replay- that didn’t bother him, but because he just didn’t feel like watching the game. He’d have to get up, go to the den and resettle himself. The game was not worth the work, not because he knew the beginning and the ending but because of the disruption. It would change him if he did all that; he didn’t want to be changed; he just wanted to write the letter he thought he should write.
He switched pens.
He removed the end stuck on the end of the pen and pushed it over the pen point so no ink would dribble onto the pen, the paper or his hands; though pens did it rarely he knew they could do it which is why he capped the pen. It was the color of ink, he decided,- that was what needed to be changed. Not the reflection, not the filler, not the replay. He would use the pen with blue ink, not black. He chose the pen he knew wrote blue.
He considered that he could more easily write the letter as e-mail. Or a post-it. Everyone uses clipped communication. Everyone sticks post-its everywhere. No one writes letters.
It was still dark.
The lamp at the end of the street put down a muddy yellow puddle.
He wondered if he stood in the muddy yellow light if he would look different; looking out from discoloration would the world seem different? He decided yes and because he knew the answer he also knew he did not have to stand in the yellow crappy light puddle and look out.
The puddle’s existence was enough.
He thought it might get stuck to the soles of his feet, like glue or jelly that fell off his toast; no, he didn’t need to stand in puddles created by a lamp post, he didn’t want to have to drag his feet for the next week trying to wear down, wipe off and clean away the piss yellow, he had enough piss yellow to wear down, wipe off and clean away. No, he wouldn’t walk down the street, lean against the light pole and wonder what the world appeared to be from the pissy perspective.
He decided to stay at the window with the pen in his hand, the pen with the blue ink, and the window black with a reflection and try to write the letter.
If the phone rang, he decided, he would not answer it. Not because he knew who was calling, or more important, who was not calling, he wouldn’t answer it because it was his choice.
The parking lot was filled with cars.
Usually people were someplace else but tonight it seemed everyone was here. It didn’t bother him one way or the other, if they- the people, were here, or there, he just noted that it required a lot of cars, including his, to get everyone where they were going and where they came from; it was the same as the ball game, he decided, the parking lot full of cars with a light that dropped down piss-yellow puddles that one had to walk through or circle around with inconvenience.
He felt it, like a pain down in his heart. It really was a ridiculous thing he was attempting to do.
It was not without regret that he had used various sleep agents for years to sleep, of which there were many varieties, some varieties better than others: quicker, slower, headache, no headache- his favorite time was before he was asleep, that brief time when he wanted to close his eyes to sleep but was still awake watching the world, lids half down, lips relaxed, head nodding down, thoughts tumbling about without control, sometimes a smile, sometimes not, but half drowsed with manufactured numbness he clung to the world looking at it, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying yet clinging; if the world ever had time to see his hand clutch onto the steering wheel, or the arm chair or the mirrored door of the medicine cabinet, or the book that fell from his fingers, or the chain of the lamp after he touched it that swung noisily like a pendulum of time ticking away the seconds of silence, clinging to the blanket, the sheet, the pillow, laughing at the foolishness of being awake yet wanting to be awake but afraid to; and so, too numb, sleeps fills up his body and it goes limp hopefully for six hours although eight would be better, ten or twelve-
No, it was the regret and the fear that a day would come and there would not be enough of the sleep agent to put him asleep, and he would lie awake, terrified that he wouldn’t sleep. That was the regret- that when he needed it most the stupor would be denied him.
He swallowed the vodka and felt his head nod and the pen relax in his fingers, and he started to write, because he needed to write before the stupor failed to end and he would once again be walking in public, properly shaved, properly dressed, with the proper stature and step, incognito, hiding with his insignificance, the filler that filled the streets, and he would smile looking at them and they would look at him smiling, not knowing who he was except to think he was nobody.
My soul is free
My feet anchored in sand
God does not hold them
The flame flickered in the breeze, the pen relaxed between his fingers and the words fell across the paper:
Owls in the birch tree
God does not know them
The tide changes all that
In his heart, that secret place where he hid his dreams, he knew it was the flame that was the anchor that kept him at the desk. He put the pen down, then his head, and he slept.
Water. Streams. Thin narrow ribbons that run bubbling like children through the soft copse of forests, soft underfoot, moss, leaves, tents overhead, leaves, branches, shaking, moving, dancing, darting, laughing, skipping, sun-mingling, bouncing, laughter, lilting through leaves, on leaves, between leaves, patterns of gold sprinkle down to the moss to the tiny ribbons of water laying upon them diamonds, fairies, sparkles, sapphires, bouncing, jumping up down, more children, laughing, skipping, a deer, head stiff, neck long stretched out, strong, quiet, listening
Nose soft black velvet, coat brown, feet with black square mittens, two shuffle, not stomping, shuffle, sun, leaves, gold, whispering, singing, then head down slowly
and the velvet mouth touches the spring water that flows through the mossy forest and the deer is quenched of thirst and raises its long neck up from the water and looks about, then with elegance, beauty, leaves tumble with a breeze, trees tall, straight, pulling up, reaching, one higher than the other to the blue sky. Clouds higher, clouds too high, too far, breeze caressing the brown hair coat, leaves soft pliant under the mitten feet, God looking down with gold between the leaves, gold puddles between the trees, gold across the brown velvet coat, gold floating an inch above it, with it, fades, starts again another place, the deer takes a few steps, stays, legs are thin, long, graceful.
Agile beautiful animal
Listening, not to water
Clouds overhead, a pass of a shadow, the deer is sleeping on the green moss, head down, mittens paw, once twice, red puddle in the gold puddle.
Two birds in the tree fly away. Quickly.
He put the pen down and wishes the ink was blue, even though the ink is blue, but it is the wrong color blue.
To the reflection in the window:
Yes, he says, then he puts his hand at the edge of the paper and he listens to his breath, music, heartbeats; sallow puddles of piss-yellow in the parking lot.
He wants the animal to rise from the bracken, the moss, the soft pine needles and the golden sprinkle of sun; the deer dies and he knows it because like the baseball game he already knew the beginning and the ending, even though he didn’t know it the first time as it was being played.
Snowflakes in April – No.
More snowflakes dead on the pavement.
He knew it wasn’t a movie, or a click of the remote. The mittens were not shuffling burnt orange leaves. But why did he know the deer would die?
Down in the meadow
Not me, he thought, this doesn’t feel like me, no; he looked at the reflection in the black window, then at the flame of the candle, soon it would sputter, spit, die, did he know that for sure, did he already see the beginning and the ending; no, he tried to say no; the candle would not sputter with a heart attack in the taxi, his mitten feet would not kick foolishly at leaves. He stared at the flame for a long time, waiting, watching the fire burn to the end; and it was an end without a sputter, the flame just died out without notice.
– And then he understood the joke, it was the pen that lived, not him.