He said he sent God an email but got no response until, after three days, he got a bounce back saying the account had been closed for lack of payment. A few hours on the internet yielded a heavenly website, and after another hour digging down into the site map, he found a tiny hot link to the Contact Us page, and there a phone number he immediately called. What could be better than asking God directly, he figured. He should have known better, and did when on the third ring the phone was answered and the recording began, “For Jewish, Press 1; for Catholic and most Protestants, Press 2; for Muslims, Press 3; For atheists and non-believers, Press 4. He pressed two and was told the office was only open for calls on Sunday from 6 AM until noon, and occasional Saturday afternoons. Unsatisfied he called back, pressed 1 and learned the phone would only be answered Friday night or Saturday, though he doubted anyone worked then. He tried 4 on the next call and was transferred to a line that seemed to be answered in Norwegian by someone who he thought said was in the branch office in Stjordal in Nord-Trondelag. The afternoon was growing short and he realized he didn’t really care about the answer, wasn’t sure he’d believe it anyway.
We sat on our lanai last night in our twin rockers, the cat curled close by but carefully removed from the rockers and stared into the sky hoping meteors would grace us with their fleeting presence.
The moon did appear, shrouded in thin clouds, spectral ghost waxing slowly in hiding, but the stars had fled this night, fearing the rain that the cloud mantle promised.
We never did see a meteor but we know they will return next year and the cat says it is hardly worth interrupting a good nap for a momentary flash of light, and we just touched hands and retreated to bed.
Life should be a like a mountain although truth be told, we prefer it more like a prairie or at best a gentle, rolling hill.
There is a challenge to climbing, hell maintaining a grip halfway up most mountains, and there are no maps, no well worn paths, you just go up until you cannot go up higher then you figure out how to come down.
Down is the hard part, and you don’t want it to go quickly for that is a prescription for the undertaker, and when you do finally get down, you want to say I did it all, there is nothig left that I still need to do.
Walking down the helical road, untwisting as you go you discover places you never imaginged visiting, nothing like the path you thought you knew well.
Stop and claim your new heritage, find yourself on an alien map, bury yourself in books of new and ancient history.
Pause here and consider a King of Scotland, knights and lords, in the far distance know that you claim a link to a man so honored that he died by hanging, but was then beheaded and drawn and quartered.
Too late to unswab your cheek, so simply enjoy your ride.
On the map are neatly etched lines drawn by a fine stylus in a skilled hand separating blue from yellow. This soil is cinnamon there tending to mahogany no line, only a post here, one there and a gun emplacement to deter those who cannot see a line writ on water. In the wind the dust dances across and back dodging the post or caressing it it tastes the rain which falls both here and there. High above the buzzard watches the lizard scurry through the shadow of the sign seeing neither blue nor yellow. Halt, you cry are you of this land or that? I am of neither I am the ocher of the land from which I rose into which I will recede I am the mote of dust that lodges in the corner of your eye and in the corner of his until neither can see the line that is not.
First Publshed in Peacock Journal Anthology, 2017 V. 1 No 2
Between this point and that lies a vast uncharted space noted on every cartographers chart. If you ask how this could be possible, I reply it’s like listening to silence and hearing each sound deeply embedded in the one next to it, a glissando of what exactly? Uncertainty? That is the whole point in the final analysis, for between that point and this one everything exists in that one place.
He would rather be from somewhere. Where he is or is not going matters very little to him now, he will be where he will be, will go where he needs or wants to go or is taken, and when there, that is where he should be, so being there is no problem. But until recently he was from nowhere and that is not a comfortable place, it is really no place at all. Now, at least, he is half from somewhere certain, and the other half at least fits on a small portion of a map and somewhere, he will gladly tell you, is so very much better than nowhere, for somewhere can be found if you have the right map.
In a small storefront, in an older neighborhood of the city, I found it. Sepia coated with a fine sheen of dust and neglect, it lay on the table amid a stack of others, as though a leaf of phyllo in a poorly made stack fresh from the oven. I knew it as I looked at it, touched it gently, that it had once held a magic incantation, that if you allowed it, could take you on a static journey where stillness was infinite. I read it though it was wordless, but clear, it was a map to the country of dreams. Not mine, I knew. Mine had the mundaneness of Chinese menu ordering, column A, column B, or sorting socks still hot from the dryer. I saw in it possibilities, where ties and restraints could have no meaning, where crawling and flying were coequal skills and walking was so evolutionarily regressive. I thought of purchasing it. The price was certainly reasonable. I thought of framing it with archival mats, and encasing it in museum glass, hanging it on a wall, or placing it behind the mattress where it might seep through like a ferryman plying the river of night, never quite touching opposing shores. I left it in the store that day. I haven’t gone back to see if its patina has grown. For me it could only be an artifact. A map is of so little use, if you have no destination.