Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gurski Farm

I guess it's inevitable if you live long enough. It fails you, or you fail it, the language that you use, staring at the words and strings of words, thinking, oh I know what that means, but not knowing at all, having written those words and spoken them so often, and so unconsciously, that the shapes and sounds are now void of meaning, nothing but shapes and sounds. Tics, the ticking of a clock. The evidence of breath on a mirror. Yes, the patient is still alive but is he conscious?

Then you find yourself daydreaming, perhaps while walking across mown fields in the pale afternoon of an autumn day, in the dun hills of the Housatonic Valley, and you see in your mind's eye the words you learned as a child,
mother, father, brother, friend. You know you need these words to clamber up into the fully conscious life but you've forgotten what they mean. So you pronounce them slowly, holding them there on your tongue, turning them over in your mind, and you find it's like coming back home after a long journey. You're confused but there is no turning back.

The house is still there, overrun now, vandalized, going to seed. It's barely recognizable. Someone's hammered plywood onto the window frames so animals can't get in. There's nobody around. Your mother and father are gone. You have no idea where they went, the woman who carried you into this world and the man who taught you to use his tools. No idea whatsoever. You pick your way through the mildewed boxes and dirty bones. A snip of hair, trinkets, hand-written notes. Clues. You examine a dark stain in the bathroom sink and suddenly you're no longer sure that this is the house. It can't be, can it? You say the words "mother" and "father" and try to remember exactly what the words mean. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. Sometimes language is an awful burden.

You're fully awake now. It's gotten overcast and the air is chilly. In the far field, a couple of horses walk slowly toward their stable. Someone has a wood-fire going. Think hard -- have you ever been here before, standing on this sloping path, facing southwest, trying to account for those other lives of yours? Well, your brother lives nearby and so does your friend, and they are waiting for you. It's time to go.

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