All This Fervent Fare

The consolations of badminton, no less than those of philosophy, reside precisely in the ability to transcend the situation. To convince the participant he is at his best when in the rough trough between two ocean waves. The one blocking out the sun, and the blisters it induces. The other soaking up every last envenomed bit of the box jellyfish. Water is, in other words, not something to be accorded its own viable position, its own place in the cosmos and appreciated for what it is, any more than you might study the habits of the fingernail—how it adds its layers one cell at a time, on average every two minutes and twenty-seven seconds. How it reveals more about its owner than is generally understood. It is a marker, a clue to what we didn’t even realize was missing. But suppose we pay attention to such things when they bare no fruit? When they hop along beside us like animated creatures escaped from a cave? Does this mean we are any smarter? Does it mean the waves of nausea that come calling in the afternoon will turn around now and beset some other person? It’s as if we think the savior still present just because a photograph or two haunts the hallways downtown, insists on its own relevance the way we insist on eating at least two meals a day. Even when we aren’t that hungry. It’s what makes the mystery novelist seek that sort of place out, a setting so murky and without substance ultimately, you are liable to confuse it for your own soul just when you had become convinced you had no soul. Only a temporary resident. A hermit, if you will, not at all certain his surroundings will suffice in the long run. Though he is impressed with the curtains, I’m sure. And the trays on the table. The salt meats. The butterscotch. Perhaps it’s best someone makes off with the body then, sells it to science like they did with Sterne’s. Otherwise, we’re stuck recounting the events of our lives in such incredible detail, no one believes a word. Not even the pelicans roosting in the windows.

Charles Freeland | Mudlark No. 35
Contents | A Gold Horse-Head Above the Door