While you’re away the rules will change. Overnight the town
becomes a fortress, your marriage a morgue. Spies are installed
in adobe walls and a new tax is levied on sleep. Your daughters
are taken from their beds and you stand for hours to offer bills
of surrender. Down the hall a mason builds a chamber to incubate
memories. The treasury starts trading currency for cigarettes
and a light bulb keeps track of infidelities. Your body –
that mountain you carry around, begins to develop craters.
One day your heart will collapse, this economy too, but for now
a man in a pink ballgown is restoring lost matchsticks to their boxes.
When the final bell rings and the curtains part, we climb a ladder
together. Some stand above to measure the wind. Makers of bread
take subsidiary rungs. No doubt we’ll change positions. A king
may drink from a beggar’s well, the sweeper’s wife will emerge
from the leeward side in a three-piece suit and tie. Try not to search
for meaning. If you need proof you’re alive, regard the oar
in your hand. Look at all this glass, the vaulted ceiling.
Someone is hammering a skylight in the roof.
Photograph © Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel