Zion 02

So people cannot stay put swirling like a weather system or reappear elsewhere from where they would be expected like discrete electricity. When they are gone they are exactly where those that know their equation expect them. So he is in an enormous and mostly empty motel room and I have been watching from a field by the motel since long before he arrived with an older man. Both scuttling under darkness and behind the downcast boughs of a live oak his face remained obscured from me. Only recognizable was the buoyancy of his skeleton that seemed to carry him skimming across the ground for several steps. Ash shadows powder a corner where there is no furniture. He is exhausted in an arm chair. Time carries on; places slip like the surface of the ocean. A look of resignation on his face confirms he knows that still the field like the earth below the plane and the carpet like the field below the motel slip beneath where he is fixed in time. In the weakness of his body and the vastness of the room that shan’t cradle him, he finds grayness, lack of sensation, in the gale of the air conditioner, his peace.

At a normal time but in the edge of time zone darkness the two men wake up. An iridescent blue aurora divides the starched rococo pattern of the curtains. In the shower he looks out an open window. The canyon walls materializing out of the dark are drenched in a rolling ambergris front. A thick mist of drizzle is visible before the rock. His eyes are nearly swollen shut and his neck, as has been growing the case, is welded with paralyzed sleep.

I stand in the field beyond the motel watching the vent in the curtain of their room. He is coming down the stairs, stops, maybe to look back at the blinded brown horse and the blinded white horse in the back field, but is gripped presciently by the aromatic charge of the air, or the sudden pressure around his head of his cap soaking through, or the clouds slumping down the slate cliff and pooling into the empty field around the corner of the building. I am still standing there watching the vent in their curtain when they breach into the field. He and I wince, though somewhat relieved; we don’t recognize each other. This can happen but once in such an empty tract.

He wears faded blue boots with a gray flannel shirt and slacks that were creased as if to define him in them when they fluttered. Water quickly beaded and collected in stalactite waves rolling back and forth across the bill of his cap as he walked away. I lost them in the fog as they headed up the canyon road until it stopped. From there they walked into the canyon where it rose and narrowed. His companion put on a poncho and when his shirt no longer beaded the rain but drank it he did as well. They swayed like two blue ghosts, as a descending woman called them. The rain tapped on his hood and on his shoulders in unrepeatable code. Nagging fingers of water ran down his plastic raiment and fogged his neck. Juniper berries drifted against the canyon walls. Some had blossomed into little urchins of soft new scales. Wild turkeys strutted into a clearing. The half-eaten cactus pears bleeding onto the sand lay unclaimed. He stopped at the base of a high segmented cliff missing a cleft like the shim from the eye of an ax. Slots of the jelly milk sky eased between the segments and forth from them visible only before the black face of the cliff a much finer rain came than he expected from the tapping on his poncho. The vague droplets fell in flagellate swerves like a mistake in his eye when he looks into a blankness like the dead and flushed ochre wall of his enormous motel room.

I have gained access to their room. Where he had not been I became the landmark. A key had been left in the door for him the evening before and therein a second key was left on the small table against the doorside window. This I took before posting in the field for the night. Where they are not now I become them. The expiry of the window air conditioner rushes out into the room and stalls. That sound is protracted and repeated. A freshly vacated motel room is miraculous. It is coupled only with the funeral parlor in its capacity to bilocate the human individual into a setting that whatever is known to primarily compose them has fled. It also competes with the funeral parlor in the thickness of its lit air. Something too revealing is concealed behind meticulously pleated curtains. I began in the arm chair beneath the window but was so compelled by the vast field of bare carpet between the unmade beds and the far wall that I spread out there and read the bracketed passages in his dog-eared book ‘Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth’: Billions of bacteria, I am told, live in our intestines alone. Every one of them has a mind and seeks happiness. The curtains in the funeral parlor keep death in, not the light of the sun or the wash of the clouds out. I had always believed that the barring of natural light from the parlor was to protect the memory of the vacated corpse from the pale probe of the sun laying bare its failure to flush and prickle. It said here is a translucent body that could no longer live. But it is to keep that thin pallor from taking wing on the air and dusting the rest of the walking and blissfully alive with the foundation makeup of what seems a pathetic afterlife. I throw the curtains overlooking the canyon road. The clouds have feathered up, draping the far high crease of the canyon. Sheeting rainwater on the dark cliff straight out reflects the sky. For a moment I am ten million years hence in the erosive death of this canyon. The ochre of the room smothers me when I see the fleshy white sky. These colors are too close to the colors of the mind. I often refuse to acknowledge that the sky is the blue that it is. It shocks me too much. I rush out of the room on foot up the canyon road. He can pull the curtains shut again when he returns.

Critical Response:

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