Friday, June 21, 2013

That World Beyond the Windowpane

The scholar puts down his pen and considers the sheets of paper lined up on the polished oak of his desk. The words are flowing; he feels confident that his examination of motifs common to Nora May French, George Sterling, Clark Ashton Smith and Robinson Jeffers will spark a new interest in their poetry. Not bad work for a Saturday afternoon.

He stretches in his chair, then stands to change the CD in its player. Ligeti's first quartet has run its course, and now he switches to the Szymanowski second. As the music fills the room, he considers the tone of the strings, the filigree of the counterpoint; then he turns to the window and draws the curtain aside for a glimpse of his neighborhood.

He sees a rain of blood-red gristle tumbling from the sky and bathing the people next door as they wallow in the viscera-bespattered muck.  They rake their fingers through the rotting membranes, and whenever they pull up a jawbone, a skull, or a coil of intestinal tissue, they drool with the amplitude of komodo dragons.

Suddenly, a whirling, globular mass of gripping human fingers rolls like a mutant tumble-weed into their midst; they hurl pitchforks, shriek with victory when it collapses like a writhing pin-cushion into a sanguinary pool. As they rush forward to seize it, a shadow blots the land... and a vast pterosaurian corpse plummets from the wrinkled black clouds, splashes like a giant squid into the brimming creeks. The neighbours howl, hurl themselves upon it, strip it to the bone with their carious teeth until nothing remains upon the red flood but a towering, cathedral-sized ribcage.

The final chord of the Szymanowski fades away. The scholar lets the curtain fall; he returns to his chair, then begins to note the correspondences between "Desert Dweller" by Smith, and "Summer Holiday" by Jeffers.

Yes, the words are flowing. Not bad work for a Saturday afternoon.

For James Rockhill.
Monday, February 18, 2013.

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