This One Time, 109

This one time, in the city of the dead, some of us were having a picnic. Some of the items that make up the traditional picnic fare were problematic, but we had a basket with some bottles in it that we had collected, some large and some tiny, mostly empty but wafting of the spirits of which they were once full. We had also collected discarded candies and candy wrappers, the butts of a few cigarettes and cigars, crumbs of a crushed rock of cocaine, a dropped tablet of ecstasy broken into quarters in a little plastic bag, the crust of a loaf of bread — close enough to the right kind that we could touch it — and, thanks to last night’s storm, some wind-plucked marigolds for a centerpiece.

Being spirits, spirits are all we are allowed to enjoy — refinements and distillations, volatiles and fumes. The bread was refined devotion. The marigolds, distilled sunlight, yellow-orange and bright. We also like glow-sticks. They are recent, but they are made for us, if you think about it.

The picnic was nothing special. We have nothing left but leisure-time. This is the way some of us spend it — herding litter with our little whirlwind dustbrooms until we make a cocktail of elements we can get our hands on and move around. Existing as we do at the border, we are strongest reenacting the extremes, the fringes of life, the purest and most distilled activities, the things most hoped-for, worked-for, and most likely to be passed over if time and opportunity fail to align.

When the picnic is over, some of us will be going to church.

Here on the unmeasurable coastline between the tiny island where people live and the vast sea of the ground-state of eternal rest, I make my own measure with my feet and my hands. I’ve never lived anywhere but on the very edge, and when I died I hardly even moved. All of the energy I expended to live at the edge, paradoxically, left me with too little momentum to head out to sea. It’s all fine by me. Time is a concern of the living. Eventualities occur.

Along the fringes of the borderlands, facing inward toward the metaphorical island, there are giants who make reaching inward their business. They themselves are distillations of hordes of us, distillations of vengeance, essences of passion, unbottled spirits of peculiarities writ large and fed by various means from the other side. We mostly stay out of their way, though I am fascinated by the fire of their focus.

The picnic proceeded. Bottles were sucked dry. Tobacco was rubbed between fingers, into the palms of hands. Candy wrappers were licked. One of us leaned in to try to focus rays of sunlight to set the basket alight but kept getting confused between the sun and the marigolds, which was probably all for the best.

There was a shift and a splash and one of us had departed back to the land of the living, retroactively, as it were. We looked at one another and traded shrugs. All we have to work with are clouds and shadows and sometimes one appears or fades or splits into two or merges with another. Clouds have no causes, just pasts and futures that have no meaning here. Discontinuities are rare, but are also meaningless when continuity is unexplained and causality is on holiday.

I showed the one trying to lens sunlight how to remind a cigar stub how it had once burned, rolling it backward in time until it was smoldering again. As the candy wrappers caught, we stood over the basket to breathe deeply and bask.

And then suddenly I was on the moon.


April 19, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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