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mastering the routine play

Waiting Room

“The sky is gray.”

Sound reverberated in a large space of oddly arranged seating but he was sitting so quietly. I had noticed him even before entering the room. He was the kind of fixture I would have expected to see in such a place as this. He could have been waiting for a train, or sitting in a large government building. But it was here, and I guess a therapist’s waiting room too has its place — and a disquiet that sometimes gets played out even as we wait.

“The kind of gray,” he continued, “that colors everything with the threat of annihilation. Perhaps that’s only a feeling. Not the gray but the tragic end.”

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Ten Years Younger

The movie was over, the credits still rolled. We all moved towards the exit with just enough light in the theatre to scroll over the darkness. No more movie magic, no more colorful faces, no dialogue; we were only a vast quiet of hesitant voices and shuffling shoes, a sleepy movement brushing against a dirty and drab carpeting.

My brother was ahead of me in the double file, momentarily paired-off with one-half of another couple. He eventually slowed down to join me, but we exchanged no words, no look. I was eight, he was eighteen. I could feel a sudden chill from the outside coming from the open doorway, sucking us out of the dark and spitting us out onto the sidewalk. I turned my head, but not quick enough. The theater had already transformed itself into an imposing concrete wall. The night air hit us. We were on our own.

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I Can’t Be a Father to Every Child

A loud screaming. A burst of anger directed publicly at an already crying boy. Dad is unseeable under the hood of his Parka. Temperature is below freezing. Boy doesn’t want to pedal. He’s three years-old and his small shivering legs can’t stay on the pedals. Dad grabs the boy off the bike and pushes him into the doorway. I can feel the tears on my cheekbones. Dad’s baritone howl echoes off the frozen buildings and bellows deep into the hearts of the suddenly transfixed neighborhood.

Kid cries tears fought back in all of us. None of us intervene.

*           *           *

I am hiding under a rotted, sunken bridge, a barren monument in a dry, flat, dirt-brown countryside, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I have seen children wading and then floating in pools of blood. All of them murdered. Not a single survivor. I can still see the beasts growling and kicking up dust, a dust that accumulated like a darkly-somber light cast upon a fine transparent glass I try to close my eyes but I can’t. I see bruised women scurry around like lizards trapped in a burning glass cage, men fused against the glass bleeding tears and alcohol through every pore. I wait for the ceremony to end. I must see the fractured remains of their children held high and tossed away into the oblivion. Children – fractured but whole, even beautiful; beautifully, elegantly stitched and wrapped in knotted twigs; sweet, sweet faces framed by fine twine; corpses preserved like dead gods; mortal flesh submerged in the rancid pigments of dried, rotted orange rind.

I drop, drop off, drop into a soft bedding. Continue reading “I Can’t Be a Father to Every Child”

a baseball kind of hero

He was a boy, a baby really, not more than a few months old, still in diapers, a pacifier dangling from his mouth.

She was wearing a baseball cap that collected in its palm a bundle of blond curls with some red highlights.

He stood at the plate, legs apart and knees slightly bent, his bare toes solidly sinking into the drenched dirt.

The rain fell in puddles, there were no boys left in the field. She stood in the center of the mound ready to sink to the bottom of a river to throw him a ball. The sweat and dirt on the girl’s knuckles were eating away at the already beaten leather of the baseball. The ball was dry at its core, heat-dried from the girl’s touch. She was fired up but bathed in the pouring rain. Her bare toes tore away at the earth beneath.

Poised on his tiptoes, the boy balanced a very large wooden bat.

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A Gray and Difficult Day

As I stared at the Bastille one typically gray Paris day, I wondered what would happen if I were to carry an American flag during Paris’s labor day parade. I say parade, but in French the word for parade can also translate into march, protest, or demonstration, probably also into riot if we were to take into account that a French manifestation often results in a riot. The paranoia behind my flag idea clearly made me think of protest, in the sense of raising my middle finger: Surely, me raising my flag would be some sort of protest against some sort of annual parade already set up as a protest.

I was therefore left with the impression that carrying an American flag in a French labor day parade would cause an uproar, or worse. Life here is so complicated.

Continue reading “A Gray and Difficult Day”

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