Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The doors are locked -- not just the first one or two, but ten, a dozen, until one is opened a crack, the light spilling into the hallway, a record playing midway through an old Beatles album, the room otherwise vacant. There is a folding card table, with neither cards nor chairs; there is an ottoman, once upholstered, and sent away when deemed bedraggled; a rickety bookshelf with some old Agatha Christies, but only Miss Marple; and a pitcher of water and plate of Fig Newtons. The room is low ceilinged, raw rafters showing, an attic space carved out as an indoor treehouse, dimly lit, and full of the presence of those who just left and those who are soon expected. The Beatles croon on, the songs not played in any order from any of their albums, mixing up Sergeant Pepper and Abbey Road and generally disappearing into a cloud of melodic pandemonium, as John and Ringo begin on two separate songs and the others banter back and forth. The water in the pitcher turns cloudy, and it seems an opportune time to abandon the room to the approaching chaos.
The hallway now is a roller skating rink, and one emerges into what is either the hokey pokey or the team races and in the midst of struggling to pull one's right foot out one is suddenly being propelled forward at unlikely speed by a stranger pushing at one's shoulders. The floor is smooth and waxed and the impossible corner turn ahead seems dangerously unsafe until the disco ball and the strobe light and the uncompromising 1980s pop music suddenly disappear and one is rollerskating along an empty hallway. There doesn't seem to be a compelling reason not to, the hallway is sanded smooth and the skates, though heavy, are propelling one forward with delightful speed, until the carpeting returns and roller skates are no longer a worthwhile accessory.

It would be nice to have a room / you could not enter / except in your mind" from "Parlor" by Rita Dove

reading the article about neuro-enhancers in the New Yorker, and distressed that these reports rarely mention the perspectives of onlookers; it is heartbreaking to watch friends disappear into a haze of Ritalin or pot and become washed out shadows of who they once were [even with my own moralizing laid aside for a moment].

weather the clouded perception of days of cold damp drizzle