Mount Union, 2.C.1, 600 words

In the cool column of columbarium air, from the buttressed sweeps of fortunate portals to open rooms the murmuring morning flushes, prickled by cackles, enervated already by crosstalking on the splintered circles woven in endless carpet. A dusty lane, settles and stilled ‘neath milk-colored borrowings of sunlight from the waxy undersides of bleached and meandering rush stems. Stalks twine up limping rails of a colorless fence; dried rose stains blot the sky and horizon and field and lane all at the fence fading. The reflection of turquoise, salmon flesh, and ungodly green drawn together in leaf and bloom also is still, unfocused across the landscape, all as if within a sheet of yellow thin and rippled plastic. Connie is high in a window. The lake is propped on its edge above the town and crowned by the vertiginous peaks that choke it and choke out the sky from the window. Out ‘neath the skirts of the hotel walls that no building abuts, pool deep, trapezoidal plazas, empty save devilish swirls of fog tailings on the stones and thin sun shot from gilt bits diminishing out into the narrowing alleys at each pinched boundary. The landscape atop the town and plazas is slightly darker. A bumbling, tumbling unstoppable cloud of smoke tooth yellow silently sinks the peaks, erases the alleys and isolates the plazas. Without vacant eyes burdened with indescribable social longing, but wild eyed, suppressing the disenfranchised rage of the enfranchised; not bowl cut, bare scalp patch eczema’d, nor anachronistically greased; nor fatted the way a vast pair of bluejeans is bedded with soft excelsior fat, but taut and absently crafted like glacial deposits against tennis shirt mold; bannered by cigar smoke, an endless parade of chartreuse streams with morning from the radiating alleys toward the hotel. In two abreast columns, men bound by mien, lost both at birth from recognition of sunlight hidden, reflecting, hidden from sunlight at birth, lost in construction of mien, each two talk as they march. Infrequent as the double torso and hips of the poetic colon, chinks in the throng kiss open views to a pale ponytail dangling, to pendulating in a small circle whose orbit is each time occluded by jostling of shoulders and underarm overflow. A faint, detached woman, fringed bangs and caret mouth breathes melancholy whistles over straight tiny teeth, transparent hair. A divot of her voice, usually struggling to emerge in completely silent and sunlit rooms, is sidelined and strained in the phalanx of boisterous, indistinct men. Their decorous chins sway. Their vital gesticulations trump recycled prattle. Maniac waving motions coalesce to hundreds of hairy parallelepiped digits ending abruptly at square nails all sweating to hold aloft enormous, malignant timepieces, and rubbing lubricious palms together desirously. The gluts of men thicken as they approach. The ruddiness of sweating faces burnished the gilt bits roseate and light ceased to play about the stones. The smiles are indistinguishable from leering. Her hair rises first, she, then like a foreign object slowly ejected from the earth, rises above the throngs’ hands idly passing her about. Her mouth taut and simple in black appears, silent through thick glass. The geologic creep that tumbled her into the upstretched hands above the crowd is sustained as they pass her about, not gently, but plodding methodically pulling her fleshy edges. Two take charge of her scarf and begin to twist as two others twist her torso t’other tendency and inversely her red, tight face is yanked out of sight as if she’d never been, though the shaded rose dash of her open mouth still stains shout-addled air.

Critical Response:

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