CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
|Four Prose Poems
The Memory Theater Burned
The memory theater burned, and in its ruins I could remember only portions of scripture, commentary, history, poetry, biographies of notable men, successful recipes, homeopathy, botany, and the classification of animals. I do not wish to fill the world with nonsense, but I cannot recall these pieces without supplying connective elements; and so I am constructing, anew, my own hybrid theater. Some of its niches are now supported by boulders or crude timbers. Some are covered in cloth so as to hide their ruination. I loved the theater, in its perfection; and I am pained to see it in fragments. But fragments are all I find, and what I find is all I can remember.
I am mute, ignored, covered in dust. At the end of a dark dry hallway, I sit high on a shelf and consider my position. Humble, to be sure. Pride left me when I entered this black building, unlit and cool like a tomb. No mute can cry out, but one more proud might rattle the bars, kick over the furniture. I despair at how readily I surrender, at my inability to complete projects once begun. There was a time, I believe, that I focused my energies and worked diligently to improve my situation. But this thought may be exaggerated by feelings of nostalgia; even misery is subject to nostalgia. At present, my mind is ill at ease, my concentration fractured, though there is nominally nothing here on which to concentrate. My only comfort is that you, if you think of me, will think of me in this miserable state. A comfort because at last I will have communicated something through the blackness of my isolation and silence.
In mourning for myself, I did nothing for a year that reminded me of my personality. I read religious tracts (I am a non-believer); traveled the world (I am agoraphobic); wrote novels (I am inarticulate); and sang songs (I am tone deaf). At the end of the year, I mended my clothes and resumed my personality. But I was now a public figure, famous for my singing, my novels, my travels, and my spiritual inner life. My former self had died, and so I have returned into mourning.
My Life as the History of a Town
The town grew up along the river, but the river dried up. No one ever walks, or even steps, into the riverbed. The finest houses are built with a view of the river. Walking along its banks, one can see into the sumptuous rooms of these palaces. Above, one sees the sky in all its moods and variations. Bridges, made of wood, rot slowly and are replaced. Boats, immobile for generations, are carefully repaired and painted. Without the river, life in this town would be a dusty, airless hell.