Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Self-hagiography #2

As Szabo, I slowed down to a speed so incremental, every alteration I made shortened the hemline of God

The children in the village came to watch me not move.
They were earnest with earnest fingers, and I did not begrudge them the bruises.
It is because looking and touching are the same to such children in a town where nothing happens.
I was the thing that happened least in my chair near the well.
One might suppose that I stank, but my metabolism was glacial in a time when such a pace was, if not respected, left alone.
To piss took me a week, and that just an inkling of what I could produce but never did, not at once.
The parents of the children thought I was a fool and could not remember the day I arrived or if I were someone's cousin.
Always we are someone's cousins.
The day I became something else was the day the two town drunks, brothers, came to beat me.
It took an hour or two, the beating.
I could tell time by their eventual exhaustion, how when they finally passed out beside me, their sweat looked as if a rainfall.
Although there were often pre-dawn rainfalls in the town, that morning there had not been.
I lay in contortion between the brothers, my chair overturned some distance away, when the town woke.
And between them not a scratch, despite the drunkenness, despite the desperation to elicit something from me I could not give.
No one offered me a mirror. After the doctor tended me as he could, I was set back upon my chair.
Healing was for me like everything else, but sometimes I was brought broth and a straw by one of the brothers' wives. She did not say it, but I knew her name -- Magda.
Dying came after the brothers' children had grown, and their children.
By the time the brothers' remaining grandsons (there had been a crib-death, three fevers, two lost to a far war, and a not-right one skulked to the city -- such is some of the information imparted from household to household in hushed words near a well)... by the time these four men carried me still seated in my chair out of the square and into the cemetery, a few of my broken ribs had knitted, but incorrectly.
Over decades, I had listened to them whispering night and noon but mostly night to the others, "go on... together now."
Their botched unity was the more excruciating, but who was I to complain to such diligent bones?
They had their work, and I mine.

No comments: