Zion 01

I sit across from a pure in heart young man on an airplane. He hasn’t yet turned away from the window. Without seeing his face and with little will if ever over my own life, I am compelled to shape my life from an assumption of his for the foreseeable future. The level band dividing scabby earth and today vacant sky smothers itself in fuliginous chokes. It grows more broad and more thick as he lets his eyes out the window draw it in like an airless chaffy breath they must take before rising back into a medium that has none of that stillness, that in fact robs it from the eyes, corrupts even the memory or imprint of that murky thanatopsis. Beneath all that the grit of reduced, drained trees seem to coat what might have hung from the horizon like a curtain more in the trodden shuffles of faintly vertiginous ash. Further on the ash curtain gives way to a russet quilt leaded with arabesques. All this blooms, blushes, and looms omnipresent. As plain as the equilibrium that ties my guide to the horizon and the infallible permanence of earth below and sky above, the view from the window is nothing more than a clouded horizon beneath a pristine blue sky and the dense forests giving way to a borderland of dry farmlands. He embroiders these distractions, this tumescent air, simply to arouse a place out of the emptiness that he might be able to emigrate.

That morning on the train he sat first in front of a woman fighting to consume a fist-sized plug of chewing gum with her entire mouth, tonsils, lips, and nose. He rose drawn down the aisle until it was no longer audible and sat facing perpendicular to the direction of travel. Opposite him sat a blind man with dog hair tufting from the skid at the bottom of his cane. His eyes just slivering beneath the lids were completely white eggs that he might not even know to lay. Similes like that are of little use to the blind. Does he long for something he cannot even understand? Presumably the blind man’s conception of sight is as baffling as my master’s conception of blindness. If it were simply the analogy of closing his eyes, the bloody shadow of his face’s eave cast, which is still the vision of something, too close and ill lit, then the blind man’s parallel of simply flipping over his eyeballs and allowing the world to become illuminated was futile. The two worlds were irreconcilable. He fancied though what sensory translation might be conveying dappled umbrage on grass by typesetting his fingers across the man’s arm like a play of embossed shadow. With this the man began slapping his elbow. His broken front teeth hung over his lip in what bucky folks always must get mistaken for a smile; this was subtly the surfacing of pain on a face that didn’t know what to emulate.

Two girls next to him giggled. What would this man’s peace be? He had no eyes, he wore hearing aids that presumably he could turn off. As the man agitated by the world unrelentingly breaking in on him with its nettles and nudges of other people going about their lives wants to invert the bilious darkness of his guts into a portable crypt, so the blind man might, must, harbor a desperation for mastery of stimuli, for escape from the chamber of his guts. Were he to know the outside world, the distance he once inhabited from it would represent the same foolhardy distance my overwhelmed guide will always remain from the eternity of his immaculate mental constructions. How tedious they must be without at least some portion of life’s gorgeousness to thread their tapestries.

The livid flourishes can’t occlude the people sitting next to him or congregating in the foyer at the center of the plane. Even simple movement, a gesture to accompany a conversation, grabs him back out of the vacuity of the sky. A shadow from a waving hand burns the etiolated plastic jamb of the window. He presses his face closer but never close enough. He pulls down the brim of his hat and wonders what mixes best with ginger ale, which he has a taste for at the moment then slips back to the pilled up cloud cover drawing across the sky.

The full height of the window is traced with the hollows of sun bleached thunderheads. I see high masses cast shadows back down into the eroded topography of the storm carpet. Above the radiant peaks the sky is only black to my gasping eyes. The entire row between us is unconscious. His foot is tossing, the inboard one, frozen and bloodless amidst the smell of thinly brewing coffee, against the wall of the plane to wake it. Still without turning to my shady vantage, the sun bald through the sky burns through his ears projecting living red arteriole fans.

Critical Response:

« | »