Monday, April 14, 2008

Engaged In Various Congresses

He woke up with a headache, probably from sleeping on his stomach. Though his dreams were so pleasant he remained there for another ten - fifteen minutes. Curled like a button in a nest of old blankets.

Yet when he finally climbed out of them, and stood making coffee (how hard to count spoonfuls of grounds when your eyes are bleary and your mind still trying to find its way back into a dream), he could recall none of them. Only the sensation that something wonderful had passed, that for a few hours he had traveled to a specific place, engaged in various congresses there, had been reluctantly drawn out, and now his memory was slowly but surely being wiped clear of the experience.

It lent his work - the early minutes of it - a grim focus. Not grim so much as sure. He realized that he had reviewed a poet years ago unkindly and wondered about how - or even whether - to contact him now. He answered a few questions from an editor whose prunings often frustrated him yet always seemed to garner him the most praise from readers. He sent another editor a story idea, in the form of trying to find the correct writer for the story (it couldn't be him - it was a women's health story), but somewhat passively hoping she would suggest he write it.

He finished his coffee, wondering not for the first time about the wisdom of lightening it with soy milk, which in turn made him briefly consider an essay on those days when for several years he only drank his coffee black, and then - even more oddly - his early twenties when he actually drank decaf by the apparent gallon. The possibilities seemed as real, as potentially fruitful, as the bean and pea plants sprouting on the counter, plants that confused him when he looked at them, their greenery odd in a house where the presence of cats - and their appetite for destruction - had long ago made plants of any kind an impossible accoutrement.

He noticed that the pigeon who last night had appeared sick was still alive and perhaps even doing better than expected. Though how much can one tell at a distance of thirty yards or so, and through a window that hasn't yet had its spring wash.

For some reason, the house remained quiet long after 8 a.m. - that is, nobody else was awake, or if they were, they weren't announcing it. The heater was on (there was a thin veneer of ice over the duck's pool outside), and you could hear the outside chimes as the wind tossed them. In fact, if you closed your eyes and concentrated, you could hear the wind itself, like a distant river high up in the sky. Why, he wondered, does closing the eyes help one hear? Obviously (he answered himself) the less data that enters brain, the better.

Yet that last thought saddened him - scared him, even - and drove him (paradoxically) to his computer where he began writing almost frantically, as if he could somehow counter the incoming data by flinging his own data back out at it.

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