Reality is clearly something to be avoided to be dressed up in tattery, tied in ribbons, perfumed, yet its fetid stench is always lurking in the background waiting to pierce your nostrils in an incautious moment until you retch and bring up the bile that marks the darker moments of your life, the kind that lingers in the throat which no chocolate can erase. Reality is often ugly, so we ignore it or hide it behind masks, or offer it willingly to others, a gift in surfeit. It sneaks up on you, and sets its hook periodically, and thrashes you at will, the barb tears through new flesh, setting itself deeper, intractable. You and I are dying, as I write, as you read, an ugly thought particularly lying in bed staring into darkness, no motion or sound from your spouse, mate, paramour, friend, significant other or teddy bear, where God is too busy to respond at the moment and sleep is perched in the bleachers, held back by the usher for want of a ticket stub, content to watch the game from afar. I cast ink to paper, an offer of reality as though the divorce from the words will erase the little pains and anguishes of our ever distancing marriage, while holding vainly onto the warm and sweet, the far side of the Mobius of reality (the skunk is at once ugly and soft and caring). We write of pain, of ugliness, of anger at terrible lengths, or weave tapestries of words to cover the flawed, stained walls of our minds, like so many happy endings, requisite in the script. Basho knew only too well that truth of beauty should be captured in few syllables.
First Appeared in Chaminade Literary Review, Vols. 16-17, Fall 1995.
It is a simple choice, she said, bicycles or a cat.
I wanted to tell her that there are no simple choices in the middle of a pandemic, and those that seem that way, to mask or not, to shop or not can be life or death choices.
I thought about the options for a few moments, remembered the cats I still mourn like children who never grew into adulthood and said, “Let’s get a cat, its safer by far and I will not be hit by a car riding a cat.”
Inside the box the cat is alive and the cat is not alive but Schrodinger is dead or the idea of Schrodinger is dead.
We walking into the store – he was sitting, rough hewn face in hands, staring at a table covering, ignoring our approach. He barely looked up when we paid when the clerk gingerly carried him to the office to wait for our car, he sat in a corner his back to the room. Now he sits beside the old Franklin stove, tucking into the fireplace that has never tasted flame, gone through life flue-less. He stares intently into the room, watching all come, all go. You suspect you see a faint smile crease his hardwood, carved lips – he reflects you.
We walking into the store – there was a too large bamboo table two folding chairs, a rainbowed Nepalese table cover. The masks on the wall keep watchful eye on us as we stroll among scarves, hats, wooden boxes. New hat on my balding head we walked slowly out of the store debating the purchase of a mask which remained moot, opinionless. Home, later, I sit beside the fireplace and absentmindedly touch the Franklin stove, stare into the room watching no one come, no one go. I am smiling, or I am not smiling, here inside Schrodinger’s box.