Academic journal article Chicago Review

Signs of the Times

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Signs of the Times

Article excerpt

the omenon, he said, how it looks at us.

it's always on our abstract side, he said, that we wish to be touched, he

said with his back to us.

facing the bookshelves, he ran his hand along the backs of the books,

dictation raskolnikov, he said, you never know.

this delightful life, he said, what are you standing around as if you

didn't want to understand, he said, not a single thing.

we sighed with relief, finally he was getting worked up again.

when she and i were pacing the tiny waiting room in the railroad

station, he said, and took turns touching the huge castiron stove to

feel if it was giving out heat, she suddenly began to talk to me, a middle

aged woman with an attitude of deploring everything, her life, her

fellow humans, the course of the world.

i was looking, he said, through the glass door of the waiting room at

the only highrise of the city. the roofing had just been completed, a

banner was fluttering on top. i wouldn't want to live up there on the

top floor, she said, he said.

i shrugged; she leaned closer.

corn garden contemplation, you never know, an unsolved problem,

he said, outside one could hear a thin distant yelp.

winter euphoria, he said.

but suddenly nothing is right any more, what has happened no longer

makes sense, he said, door frost, winter sun so glaring you clap on

dark glasses.

and questions, always ask questions, he said, then everything gets put

off, he said, and you turn your head because you've had enough, carved

mask, scare-eye from a pastry cook's hand, like beuys, he said.

to put it in terms of color, he said, it was a thin white yelp, in the far


watch the fecal snake and be content, he said, cut the umbilical cord,

most important commandment: cut the umbilical cord, years inter

changeable all along the time one has lived, many years with many


antagonisms of in and out, he said.

fear that the little catalan would fall through the shell of his instru

ment, fear of the tiny men with huge ballooning heads, fear

their heads could burst inside mine.

pearl in his ear, he said, field kitchens in the courtyard, he said, a guy

in blue overalls with three blue car plates dangling on a leather strap,

out of reality.

the feeling, he said, that we move things with our ever-waking consciousness never leaves me and never will, and i feel what i would feel like if i stepped out of the house now, out of the house into the frosty garden, feel what i would feel like if i now stepped into the garden, in the middle of january, avoiding the oblong crusts of ice that have formed here and there on the flagstones, on the flat parts of the lawn, now, in the middle of january, i feel what i would feel like if i stepped into the garden now, avoiding ice puddles, imagining what it would be like to be home almost without light at noon, to come home, open the door, take off my coat and drop it on the spot, feel what i would feel like if the coat had dropped to the floor and i then thought of stepping beyond the garden into the wintery white-grey day, over ice puddles, avoiding the frozen grass, heading for the mailbox in the garden wall, opening it, looking into the cavity

without finding anything, going back up the mirror-slick stairs to the

house, and everything would be as in the old days except many weeks,

months, years would have passed, he said. …

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