Random Jottings of an Old Man
from Chinese Whispers (2002)
Like a fool, I let him into my house, and he began dropping jottings everywhere. Where once crepe-paper flowers had been, jottings overflowed the basin into the water closet. Urban affairs had kept him— something about a rendezvous with kelp. “Hurry, the paths of nature are creeping to the corrugated tooth. And it’s a blitz of old stars, tonight!” Something in me leaned into the vacant doorframe. It was a still life of bottles and a jar that once held cold cream. We mustn’t wait here for him, that’s what he wants, and if we do so he’ll want to eat us. No more us to be with in the morning, among the cups and shards. No more sticky places on the railing. We held hands there too, once, for years, watching the palms move out into the harbor. The pianola never recovered from the loss. Today the air is bright again and fresh with pods. No mourners were sighted on the post road. He came down to us with relaxed meaning in his grin, cudgeled, cajoled us, told us breezy stories about a widow in the henhouse. After all regrets have been pocketed, the counter wiped clean of terrible fingerprints, assuredly one moved westward into sheepherding country. The ranchers won’t like it, but they’ll let us live, closer to dying than many insects are now, attracted by the chiming and gleams of the cash register. Other oaths, other options will follow in the wake of spring. Millions of mullions waken, gesticulate to us.