Pillar of Salt

by dschapman

I wanted to turn my head and stare at the world as it burned up behind me but I was told, “No, don’t stare, it is not polite to stare.” I wanted to talk about what had just happened and what it all meant, I wanted to study the colors and contours of the landscapes, real and imagined, past and present, and to not be deluded, to not be unsure. I stepped over the corpse of a rabbit and promised to myself not to think about it, but of course I just thought of it. I vowed right then, in the wake of the world as I knew it, to change: to stop eating, to stop drinking, to stop smoking, and to stop having sex; I vowed to re-assert myself, my tradition, my strength and my consistency, unambivalent, and with perfect maturity. My aesthetic sensibilities became ascetic ones, my ethical urges became religious; I could see a perfect world before my very eyes, and behind me, pure destruction. I stepped out of the cult of the shadow and into the mirrored epiphany of god-colored light. I confronted myself in a hallway of mirrors and I tried to do the right thing, whatever it was – but nothing came to mind. I looked at myself and I stared and I said, “God help me, won’t you, please.” I have been cast from the city and cuckolded, and I did nothing to stop it. I certainly knew it was coming, for it was I who created it. I created the world, and made it spurious. Thus made, I placed it under my heel in insult, and I tried to stamp it out; but I lost the feeling in my feet and couldn’t make them do it. The world was saved. Who is this boy reading books by the banister, looking alone, so peculiar? What does he think he is doing? He is about to speak – you can see his chest heave, a glint in his eye, you can see him with something to say – but no, he says nothing. Maybe another time, you think. But there will be no other time, but this one, and this one has been pre-determined. He will make a fool of himself, as we have made fools of us all…

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