of whatever you are absorbing with your
five senses is forbidden, and may provoke
nausea, insomnia, loss of balance or blurred
vision: it were better you retire, and then
attack, hurling weapons and imprecations
at the diffident foe. The world averts
its gaze, and unfortunate schemers drag
their woes from home to muddy fields: all
roads lead to rooms, as the Irish say, and
to windows through which one stares at the seething clouds.
One Indian summer, when the future
seemed to beckon with a double-jointed
finger, I took to loitering with uncertain
intent in the neutral, unblinking eye
of a slyly angled closed-circuit security
camera: when I yawned or stooped, somewhere
my grainy image followed suit. Shoppers paused
and threw me quizzical, sidelong glances. I perched
defiantly on the rim of a huge stone tub
of ferns, which I remembered, as they brushed my hair,
were thought by some to be about the oldest plants
on the planet. A portly, middle-aged
man in uniform, sporting mirror shades, ambled
towards me: I could tell he was bothered by the unseasonable
weather by the way my own features stretched and loomed.

This Issue

July 17, 2003