Hold Your Tongue

You can borrow what you will from On Plymouth Plantation. Act as if you have every right to be here when the whole world knows you have stumbled from non-existence the way someone falls off a bus. Acting the part, though, has its advantages. No one will argue with the diary in the mattress, its pages stained with what looks like blood precisely where you would expect a liquid that means something. Not one of those cooked up in the kitchen or the lab. Our patience, because it is something acquired from others—a pastor who threatened us in our youth, a woman who spoke of feathers as though of lost symphonies—abandons us just soon as the sun begins to set. And normal people plan for the three or four scenarios that present themselves then. Like ambassadors. From Bhutan. You may know already the people of Katak Huyuk were carving images of a goddess giving birth to men and bulls more than nine thousand years ago. An indication we think the world goes about its business in a labored way. It needs our assistance. This is not insight, though, but handicap. Something handed down from your father after he has finished painting the shutters green. Something he says to you when the radio is on and you can’t quite make out his words, but you understand the gist of it. Because he says the same things over and over again. About the jungle. About the women who smoke cigarettes because they are nervous. Because their hands seem suddenly large as balloons. If only she had known this before she went away. Before she came back, I mean. And then, she went away again, I imagine. I can’t be sure because, even when she’s missing, there are signs of her presence everywhere. Dropping from the sky like acorns. Turning up in the margins of a book. Her name spelled out there in a shaky hand. And vermilion ink of the kind you find in cheap pens. Certain inedible octopi.

Charles Freeland | Mudlark No. 35
Contents | Spring Cleaning in the Labyrinth of the Continuum