19 March 2009

Life On The New Frontier

He moves around his house through gathering darkness. He picks up objects and he examines them; he often understands their functions, their purposes. Sometimes he doesn't.

Though he believes his actions random, there is a pattern that can be traced, there is a regularity to his movements and his pondering. He is delineating new boundaries. He is inscribing a geometry; he is describing a shape.


She works. The job she does is like any other and she makes no distinction between them, the jobs she does, because the are all work. She can speak but she does not because there is no reason to. There is no reason to speak because she is working. Instead, she sings. She knows she has flattened one hundred aluminum cans when the song she sings is over. She can count but there is no reason to count when she can sing. When the song ends, she sings it again and flattens one hundred more cans.

The sweat that rolls from her skin rolls down her collarbone and collects against the skin that swells across her breasts. Her breasts are new ones; she never had them before. And the song she sings is a new one because the cans she flattens have never been flattened before. She wonders about her new breasts far more than she wonders about the new cans; she wonders about her new breasts through the song she sings over hundreds of new cans. She can do both at the same time. She remembers that every once in a while there are new cans in her life but there have never been new breasts in her life. Her can-song has begun to sound a little bit different.

She feels the sweat there under the swelling and she feels new to feel a new feeling there under her new and continually growing breasts. The way one fine drop of sweat will cling for an instant against and to her nipple before stretching itself to drop into the damp cloth of her rag, her shirt, her clothing. It is an old garment.

She takes no pride in her work, she takes no thing away from her labor except for a verse once in a while to add to the songs she sings when she works. It may be the flattening-the-cans song or the digging-a-new-hole song or the making-the-sex-thing song but it is only always another verse if it is a new thing. Like her breasts.

She knows her breasts mean big changes.


There is a town glistering in the distance and though he can see the lights from his place there on the road he knows that it will be several more hours before he is among them.


She feels the dust before she sees it rise from the road that leads to where she lives. She feels it rise and fall in all the heaviness dust carries with it when it rises and falls long before her eye holes take it in. She doesn't look up, she doesn't need to look up because the song isn't nearly over and she has a long time to sing before what the carries with it will be where she is. There is plenty of time to flatten cans, climb up on to the roof of the place where she lives, to look at the locus of the dust cloud, to sing the friend-or-foe? song, to prepare to welcome or to hide in the bushes before it got there.


His hands are making some motions but he doesn't exactly know what they are. They are motions at the ends of his arms. They, the motions, make things happen, but he really doesn't know what the things are, the things that happen when his hands make motions.

There are lights flashing past his eyes, his eyes that are watching his hands see things that are reflected in the shining skin that covers them, his hands. Red, blue, yellow, white, white, and white. These are the colors that pass across his hands, the hands he doesn't even recognize. Pity the hands, he (they) thinks to himself (themselves). Pity the foolish digits that do things without knowing what they're doing. Pity. Foolish.


She jumps down, she jumps up. The cans have been flattened enough, enough cans have been flattened, and she will retire to the bushes and hide while the pilots in the vortex of dust destroys her home. She knows that these kinds of things happen sometimes and she will sing the these-things-happen song while she hides among the dusty bushes and watches him (them) do what he (they) do to her house--the kinds of things that get done like burn it down because he (they) can't find her because she is hiding in the bushes. She wonders what they'll do about all the flattened cans.

She is surprised when she realizes that what she had been thinking "they" was really only one guy and his hands. She had felt "many" coming and had expected to deal with "many" and it knocks her a little bit to realized that "many" in her head meant "one" and his "hands." She revises her song as she sings it.


Fire is what they want and, despite his anxious posturing, fire is what they have started. He wonders what kind of house, whose kind of house, they are burning down. He does not approve of burning houses but has no resource for protest. He can merely watch and wonder.


His driving has become a stillness, his motion has become a part of his staying perfectly still. Except for his darned old hands.


The thunderstorms that roll across her horizon do not interest her unless they actually rain upon her. They are merely smears in the atmosphere until they come close enough to become potential sources of useful water. Then she must cease her work and begin the catching-the-rain song. She does admire them, the small storms, as the walk across the desert but she really pays them no attention. Unless they approach, there is no reason to. Pay attention to the,

Sometimes she sings to bring them near if she is thirsty or bored or looking through her eyes and other times she sings to keep them away, the storms, if she is tired or busy or thinking about something else. She wishes there was a thunderstorm now that she could sing the let's-put-the-housefire-out song to. She's glad, through, really that there aren't any storms to wish at.


He keeps wiping his brow until he realizes that he is. He is embarrassed that his action is so trite, so contrived, and so unconscious. He wishes emphatically for unique gestures, for an easy possession of unexpected motion. In his concern, he wrings his hands until he realizes that he is. He thrust them, his hands, deep in his pockets to control them, to let them think of something different to do. While he waits, he chews his lip.


She is one the roof of the shack and she is watching the dust cloud rise from distant wheels. In this, she knows there is interest and she knows she needs to know what to do. She may need to flee, to crouch some distance away. She waits on the roof and hums the waiting-to-know-what-to-do-next tune to herself. She wonders now if it will rain.


While he is burning her house, he is burning himself up. Though, of course, not really. He would like to think, to himself, that the damage he does to her house is like the damage he has done and will do to himself. It is not, he knows but doesn't like to think. It is not even close and he cannot and will not and won't not for ever and ever and ever realize that the hands with matches and the gasoline and the hands in his pockets and the hands on the steering wheel of his fast machine are the same hands. He won't.

He is weak that way. He is weak the way he is weak and his hands hate him for it and he hates them (but he has hated them for a long, long time). They know about the girl in the bushes, the girl with the terrible clothes, the girl with the new breasts, but they, the hands, won't tell him. Not a peep. Not out of his hands. They are too busy torching the pathetic hovel she sings as her home. They, his hands, drag him back to the car he drives when he can drive. When he lets the, his hands, drive a car. It is a Camero.


She is not surprised to remember that she knew this would happen. It is a song that she dreamed, this new house-burning-down song, and she suddenly remembers how the whole thing goes, the end of the song, the rest of the dream. She's going into town. In a thing called a "Camero." She stands up from the bushes and carefully brushes all the dust from her knees.

She waves her hand. She raises her voice to singing.

"Hello!" she makes. "Hello there! It's me!"

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