Sunday, 3 February 2013

Icebergs

Sometimes I think I’m not people the way they used to build people, with arms, with sharp bent knees, with arms around other people. I haven't opened the mail in a month and the mail keeps threatening me like a pocketknife, like a heavy-set man in a over-lit bar who walks up to you and spits on the floor. I haven't opened the mail for a month and it just builds and builds, a white pile on the desktop like an iceberg, except the thing that's hidden under the water is the stuff that's stuck inside, the words, the sentences he is trying to tell.

But he's got no idea how powerless he is because I am not trying to chip away that iceberg, bit by bit; I haven't started with my pick.

I know him and the him I know is sitting for hours each day with a large wooden box full to the brim of worn-cornered memories, pulling out handfulls and sifting through them, shuffling the pack like Vegas, trying for the kicker, the card that goes bang, the roman candle memory that will turn this all around (or maybe the soft shammy memory that just says oh, or the memory that is more like a hiccup than anything else, just a bump in this smooth liquid of your throat).

Where was I? Oh yes.

It doesn't matter what he finds, how long he spends rubbing two fingers together like a miser trying to spark gold. The iceberg is a fat stack I've trained my eyes to turn from and I live alone in the house and it doesn't really matter, I wear a silk dressing gown and it doesn't really matter, I walk around with a faint bitten smile on my face, dragging one fingertip across the dust of the shelves, and it doesn't really matter. He is a child in a well who doesn't know that the family packed up and moved south for the winter, and he thinks if he can just shout a little louder they'll come running with a bucket tied to a thick woven rope, the kind of rope that feels so fine in the palm of your hand, a sure and steady thing to grip.

I do not know how long this will go on for. I could live here a long time and perhaps soon the desk will be gone, and maybe then the floor will start filling up with letters like icy ships. The caps will melt and spread, and I will become a lonely polar bear navigating the silence, not reading, not ever responding.

The thought of this feels good and it is what I stuff in my pipe when I leave the house and have to look the shopkeep in the eye, this thought, you do not know, shopkeep, the words I have at home waiting for me. I do not know either; perhaps neither of us will ever find out. Or perhaps I should open just one, just to see.

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