Wednesday, February 27, 2013

captured in amber

It is quite unimportant the sequence of events that led to my expulsion, removed from what had been the reality of my life. When one becomes stateless, exiled, then one is a guest only of fate, a beneficiary only of luck, a plaything of chance. I did not intend to be exiled. That was not what was supposed to happen, it was not our agreement. There was no unlawful protest, no life lived in the counter-insurgency, no sculpture or poem contradicting a ruling elite. As if sculpture and poetry matter to the masses, are anything other than an annoyance to the powerful! But my exile lacked even the romance of intention. There were many days living, loving, laughing, feasting, playing, traveling, singing, exploring, and then they ended.

I cannot recall how or why they ended. There is a blank in my mind, a hole in my memory, like a badly edited film that jumps between future and present and past without any warning or transition. Suddenly my life had changed. If this absence did not yawn so deeply, becoming an abyss, perhaps the gap would contain material for a riveting best seller. I think of all the things that could have happened in those missing years, a political revolution, a drug cartel, rouge scientific experimentations, any one of a hundred tales of espionage and fighting the powerful and blackmail and double crosses. One day, when things are different, I will write each of these narratives, and the multivolume genre spanning set will be known as my memoirs, although none of it will have happened.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

when magic had a taste all its own

It was like watching somebody else's dreams. All of the colors were different from the colors that I saw, and the sizes of things were all mixed up. She blew on an eddy of magic and it took the shape of a rainbow-striped elephant, and perched on top of the elephant was a mouse, only the mouse was as green as the grass and wore a funny hat. She brought some of the clouds down closer to the earth and made rings and hoops out of the clouds, and the elephant and mouse started jumping through the hoops, and then they stepped into a ring together and the mouse became exactly the same size as the elephant and they danced together.

I could even hear the music they were dancing to, it was the sound of the river and the sound of rain and the sound of heartbeats and the sound of hoofbeats, and because it was my birthday and Grandmother was making the magic especially for me I stood up and danced with the elephant and the mouse. Then Grandmother stood and danced with the three of us, and because she was Grandmother the mouse bowed low, low to the ground, and gave his hat to Grandmother to wear. We danced and danced and danced, and then the sun began to set, and the elephant and mouse bowed deeply to the two of us, and Grandmother and I were alone together again.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Years earlier, I'd stand up on the lowest rung of the fence, and listen to my grandpa. He'd talk straight through the whole thing, never missing a shot, and I'd follow every movement, shadow every gesture.
"You've got to be real careful, don't let anyone know where you are. It's a game."
"Like tag?"
"Little bit like tag."
"Like hide and seek?"
"More like hide and seek. You've got to aim low and aim good and then you've got to move fast, 'cause if you get caught then you know what happens."
My eyes widened. I shook my head. I had no idea what would happen but if grandpa said it was bad then I knew it was really bad. Grandpa was so brave he didn't even cry when he accidentally chopped off a finger with the cleaver, he just let grandma sew it up with her needle and went around like nothing at all was wrong.
"You've got to aim low and aim good and then you've got to move fast, 'cause if you get caught then they don't just put you in jail. They put you in the stocks on the middle of the town square, and people, they can kick you or throw things at you or do anything they want to you."
Sometimes grandpa told me things that were a little bit true and a little bit not true, but this time I believed him. There wasn't any funny twinkle in his eye, he kept aiming his gun and shooting as I stood there on the bottom rung of the fence.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


There: in Scotland, peat, a fog, a forgotten evening.
So much, so much happened, I can't remember it all, I wouldn't want to remember it all.
Of the following morning of the forgotten evening, the peat, the fog, a cup of tea, a goodbye.
And then the silence; silence, silence stretching across the moors as the train followed the North Sea south, south, into silence.
Civilization gathers and buzzes: movement, people, footsteps, schedules, departures, a pause before changing trains, changing stations, a decision.
Was it the right decision, there, so far from the peat and fog? I cannot say.
I cannot say.
The silence stretches, the conductor in his scarlet uniform collects my ticket, I wonder.
I cannot say.
Deep in folds of memory the fog gathers, the peat fire smokes, and in the winds of time all of this will dissipate, forgotten; or it will crystallize, grow strong, pure, elemental.
I cannot say; the silence stretches between us, the fog, the peat.

Friday, February 8, 2013

the shoebox

Strictly speaking, the box probably should not have come into my possession. Technically, I had neither claim nor right to it. That I was able to spend so many hours hoarding, voyeuristically engulfed by these letters and photos was something that my Puritan streak chastised me for. That is the problem with having a common name. That is the problem with employing a lawyer from the lower end of the profession to settle an estate. That is the problem with allowing curiosity to override ethical principles. Of course I should have told the lawyer that he telephoned the wrong person. Of course I should have returned the papers as soon as I realized just how personal they really were. Of course I did none of those things.

There are plenty of external factors that I could blame for this collapse of manners and morals. There are almost no excuses for my behavior that would be plausible, justifiable, or even have a remote chance of standing up in a court of law. That I was in the wrong I freely admit, just as any addict knows, on some level, that they are operating beyond the boundaries of polite society. I didn't care.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


We approached a clearing, where there was no bonfire, but a circle of white stones, tiny white stones, barely the size of pebbles. They were placed closely together, so thickly they covered the entirety of the pasture in a perceptible ring, the white reflecting the moonlight around the clearing like a mirror. Gathered in the center of the circle was a delegation of beings found only in fables, in fairy tales, tiny gnomes with leather vests and long beards, the women with embroidered skirts and braids down their back. Infants the size of kittens crawled within the perimeter of the stone circle, and my captors, my hosts, sat me upon a moraine in the center, handed me a thimbleful of wine. It was a sweet wine, an enchanted wine, and while I know better than to drink the wine of the forest dwellers, I raised the flagon in respectful toast, and drank deeply.

Monday, February 4, 2013

identities / eternities

Thus I can assert that this moment did not happen, this moment never happened, by eliding past it and focusing instead on the time before, or the time after. Perhaps settling my gaze on the indistinct and unformed crystals of time that await excavation in the future, the essence of what will be drifting tantalizingly towards the past, beckoning, beckoning: forsake your empty memories and come forward, forward. And I try, I try, I grasp the corner of the future offered as proof that time does exist, I strive and pull and reach for that which one day will be, and I am always caught up short locked in a present devoid of memories and empty of anticipation.

There is only the here and the now, and the present has none of the bottled sunshine of the past, the present has none of the tempting aromas of the future. The present is the deep impenetrable fog of a cloud obscuring every possible direction, the present is shapeless and without form. The smooth calm surface of the mind is instead the rough ocean waves that indicate either a storm has passed or a storm is brewing, but without the cues formed by memory, the present is both anticipation of a storm about to arrive as well as the exhaustion of a storm weathered. The present is dark skies that are either meteorological or nightfall, but there is neither sun nor moon to give form to the void of darkness.