Cathedral Style

by dschapman

The first day of sunshine since senseless time immemorial – the strum of the dual ukuleles, dueting – the floral leisure of gin, of tonic, duly garnished with a lime – felt fedoras, jingling keys, pockets full of folded paper – notes in the margins, marginalia – the parlor of social indulgence, parlance, traditional – sophisticates inglorious, dilapidated pupils –  a river of visceral aesthetics, the voluminous rushing hum of significance – the sums of sweet simplicity! Is this the life I’ve bid adieu to? Or am I just beginning? Taken all at once, its sickening – but little by little, something begins to sounds familiar – something sounds like re-assurance.

Winter and summer, merino and linen, the misshapen shimmering sunlight – a light on the limits of selfness… Taken all at once, it’s immolation!

It is better to wait on the side of the road than to walk along the median, and so I have unfolded my paper and unbuckled my belt from its strict imposition, and I have began with the beginning. Bethelhem donkeys standing guard in the hen house. Hen house, hen house – so once I stole a bantham hen. A neighbor’s hens had escaped from their hen house and they were clucking on the roadside. I took one under my arm and walked her home. I built a shelf in the doghouse for the hen to lay her eggs; she and the hound would love and protect one another. The hound dog, I called him Lieut, else I called him trouble, because he was trouble, and we would butt heads, we would eye one another unblinkingly – I’d run him off and he’d come running back, to drop a raccoon at my feet – I fed him steak and eggs, I cuffed him on the head when he disrespected ladies, I taught him how to yodel and he taught me how to howl back. An appreciative complacency; rocking chairs, sagging eyelids, absent-minded whistling. Quietly expressive – wonderful expressions! Shiny black barrel on my shotgun – sight to the skies from their magnificent heights in the clouds, watch the weather come tumbling – send Lieutenant on the scent – muddy water, sweet and still, filthy, full of catfish, fitful lushness in the hillsides… and of course, he loved my mother. He loved my father, too. As living creatures do.

The sun is setting across the valley, glimmering gold over broad and bounding hills,  settling again… As for love – as for love – black and tan and wholesome, black and tan and over-eager – beautiful over-eager imbecile – in those wholesome lonely arms, together, abstracted – lonesome broken colors – and as for love, as the boys in ruffled feathers sung, begun and unending, as the weathered fragments broke into pieces, the pieces into powder, the powder in a jar – like the penniless son, the boy on stilts of split wood – like the way he drove to the city, his fortune in his fist, and put on his city shoes, and wore his city hat, and walked on down the city streets dreaming of her in his arms once again, and strode into the jewelry store; “Well I don’t know her finger size but her rings fit my pinky finger, like this,” he told the clerk, pointing to a platinum band – and the diamond – classic solitaire – and he opened his fist and the fortunes fell to the counter and he was terrificly vindicated, although terrified.

Black, tan, and cream – you’ll see me standing calmly, sunken hollow smiling wise, patient and patiently whelming; leather tans and blackened hides – Lieutenant by my side. The way the easy summer evenings passed us by, the way the wonderful nightfall rises like a sentimental tide and subsumes us – I remember it all now! And it all sings songs of greatness, goodnatured. A gentle man, a wooden instrument, a wooden apothecary, a woolen rug, a heavy curtain, a cotton rag, a couple violents, a banker’s lamp, an iron press, a glassy eve, a brass doorbell, a linen sheave, a tin toy car, a sleeping hound, a barking gun – mother, father, sister, friend – doors and doors and stunning power – an admirable appeal to pure eloquence, a hateful condemnation within – it was very simple then, it is very simple now. You’ll see me standing, muttering calmly, sunken hollow soulful smiling eyes, ancient and patiently dying; perfect summer day! You’ll see me whistling, stumbling, felled; incapable of plain expression.

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