KALI'S DAY excerpt
"Candice hears the sounds of birds. The last traces of light stain the cave’s entrance far from where she sits in full lotus covered only in the ashes of the dead. She drifts in and out, sometimes jolted from a vast emptiness by the grumbling of her stomach. So far she can silence hunger by simply focusing and re-focusing on her breath. But the stomach is a dumb animal and its indifference to “mind over matter” is becoming more apparent in the increasing volume of its complaint. It clenches itself like a fist and it’s all she can do to keep her eye closed, though she hears something scratching along the ground somewhere to her left. She’s conquered fear, never feared the dark until right before she conquered it. In another lifetime, there was a longing that she barely remembers. So it’s not fear or need that distracts her now. It’s the knowledge that, other than herself, something animate, something alive is within reach. Most likely it’s one of those large succulent beetles, thickly armored against what she is now in most danger of becoming—a predator, since she hasn’t really conquered appetite, has only concealed it, and despite having risen above the desire for even the simplest bowl of rice, is about to succumb to defeat for the taste of something that until now has been far from tempting or even remotely relevant to the satisfaction of any desire, let alone hunger—especially hunger.
She doesn’t open her eye. But she imagines it crawling heavily over the various obstacles in its way: pebbles and clumps of damp earth, a random search for whatever nourishment, dirt, dead insects, bits of excrement, it might stumble upon."
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Sunday, July 12, 2009
WRITTEN ON THE EYES
I write with my eyes. I stop whatever I’m doing, put down my pen, my cup, lick the jam from my fingers, but my eyes never stop. Sometimes my eyes play tricks. I sense something in my periphery, maybe only a glint of light off my glasses, which signifies like a misheard word.
The black lacquered cabinet in my childhood living room was painted with enameled scenes in the Chinese style. I spent hours studying its scenery: a world of pagoda bridges over gilded streams, temples, a colt beside a yellow boulder, a blue sea bird with spread wings, strange trees with curling limbs and modest foliage. What interested me most was a man poling a small covered boat with a woman inside. The woman had a look of surprise, as if she had just woken up to find herself drifting through this dark world animated by the creatures and plants moving past in eternal stillness.
All is told on a seamless scroll of transparency that I shake open and unfurl beneath my feet when I can no longer walk. Ever since I first became aware of windows I realized there are exits and through the exits is the world. I’ve read my life through them, remembering other spaces without language.
I pile junk upon layers of important things until there's no difference. This creates a chaos so splendid that I'm paralyzed by its beauty and have to avert my eyes. Beauty has become a painful thing. I stay away from windows where the movement of clouds across the sky threatens the rhythm of my heart. Alone in front of windows I feel danger. I’ve hung crude curtains, which fall from the walls each time I breathe. I go from room to room to avoid the wash of sunlight on the objects I’ve placed like sentences and paragraphs. Color and shadow change their meanings depending on the light or where I sit. A bird’s song or baby’s wail can distract me momentarily but invariably I go back to constructing this dangerous lie of beauty and order.
I’ve tried going outside to determine whether I mistook the world for something else, but three hundred sixty degrees makes me dizzy. Although at first it lifts me to be walking in a bright world I quickly tire and go back home to lie down. Drugs and drink make the horrible beauty more tolerable, but this is only temporary. They make me stay up all night until the sky begins to lighten and I have to close my eyes or be killed. Inevitably, the sun shakes me awake through my curtainless windows. I ask myself again what will I do today? and it’s always the same.
In the end I will succumb to beauty. All this chaos will be put in order as I drift through a black suspended world without sky or clouds, only wordless water flowing in eternal stillness.
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