A tall building in the fifteenth arrondissement faded away slowly and then completely vanished. Toward November the weather grew very bitter. No one knew why or even noticed. I forgot to tell you your hat looked perky.
A new way of falling asleep has been discovered. Senior citizens snoop around to impose that sleep. You awake feeling refreshed but something has changed. Perhaps it’s the children singing too much. Sophie shouldn’t have taken them to the concert. I pleaded with her at the time, to no avail. Also, they have the run of the yard. Someone else might want to use it, or have it be empty. All the chairs were sat on in one night.
And I was pale and restless. The actors walked with me to the cabins. I knew that someone was about to lose or destroy my life’s work, or invention. Yet something urged calm on me.
There is an occasional friend left, yes. Married men, hand to mouth. I went down to the exhibition. We came back and listened to some records. Strange, I hadn’t noticed the lava pouring. But it’s there, she said, every night of the year, like a river. I guess I notice things less now than I used to,
when I was young.
And the arbitrariness of so much of it, like sheep’s wool from a carding comb. You can’t afford to be vigilant, she said. You must stay this way, always, open and vulnerable. Like a body cavity. Then if you are noticed it will be too late to file the architectural pants. We must, as you say, keep in touch. Not to be noticed. If it was for this I was born, I murmured under my breath. What have I been doing around here, all this month? Waiting for the repairman, I suppose.
Where were you when the last droplets dribbled? Fastening my garter belt to my panty hose. The whole thing was over in less time than you could say Jack Robinson and we were back at base camp, one little thing after another gone wrong, yet on the whole life is spiritual. Still, it is time to pull up stakes. Probably we’ll meet a hooded stranger on the path who will point out a direction for us to take, and that will be okay too, interesting even if it’s boring.
I remember the world of cherry blossoms looking up at the sun and wondering, what have I done to deserve this or anything else?
Originally published in the Fall/Winter 1999-2000 issue of Fence.