elena minor

 

Variations 1:19

1:1   It’s a nice little ride, and when you get there, boy oh boy. You see it’s worth it, despite all the twists and turnabouts. It can be, yes, if you like junky spaces in blank landscapes and a busted barrel or a coming attraction something like large living motion.

1:2   It isn’t far. You go up the highway for a while or a bit longer it seems, if you have to pee, until you reach the intersection. You’ll know the one. There’s nothing else around for miles unless you might notice the power lines. You turn left and go till you see where there are the two arrows that are back to back in a perpendicular direction? Then you keep going down more for about three and a half minutes and counting. You have to stop then, to rest, if you like.

1:3   The thing is, there's really no place to go. At least, not around these parts. We’ve been here practically all our life, and we know. When we were so rabid in the beginning it mattered a whole hell of a lot, and we virtually inhaled every tidbit and morsel available and begged up to the seamless blue skies for more. We waited who knows for how long, and when after that snitch of telling time delayed the stuff came down and was spatter tainted, we had to improvise. All we serve up here now are beans and chocolates. People who need more than beans and chocolates move on. We tell them that we tried too, before we discovered beans and chocolates, but after we did things were fine.

1:4   Of course we’ve learned from experiences. We had no choice because our parents left us before they got cold. We took our plates and utensils and migrated to the great open solitary hoping to find the space that had escaped us when our parents did. We did the best we could and didn’t do too badly in the early hours.

1:5   Later, as retrospection pastime, and since we’d been to the mountain and wandered loose in the desert and scouted a few other locations in between and made our selection, we figured we’d seen enough to be in a position to judge or at least make a movie without going Hollywood. Hooray and amen. Give we thanks to those who came before us and paved our way with and through the light of distant but glittered stars. In the flicker of a frame or eye, what didn’t we see?

1:6   Not that we’d ever have wanted to force our opinions on others, but “To Our Own Self We Are Entitled To Be Faithful If Not True” irreconcilably became our motto long before we were aware of its importance in our future. It’s a bit long for a motto but we have a lot of meaning to pack into one sentence.

1:7   We used to pack heavy but our arms almost wrenched off and our legs all but bowed out, so we use ballistic nylon now to hold in our belongings and to release some of the weight so there’s that much less of a strain and more room for beans and chocolates preferably. With pureed raspberry sauce, freshly made and at room temperature. Not to mention whole wheat tortillas to scoop up and clear our palates. They also have the advantage of being duty-free so we didn’t have to feel guilty and pay. We owe them a lot anyway.

1:8   Out here the airspace was then naturally known to get piped in hot, and having to haul all that ballistic baggage tended to wear us down to the last layer of our old tire rubber huarache soles. Luckily, we didn’t sink into the sand because the part of the wasted land where we trod has been hard-baked from days and millennia of bright sunshine ’til death us do our part it. In that environment only the strong could survive so we made natural friends with the lizards and snakes and fuzzy-legged tarantulas; and yes, we partied in the high desert we did, mostly at night when the temperature was just right for dusky celebrations. We aren’t now and weren’t then stupid: we like to coax our insides out to show them light in the dark.

1:9   We used to find a lot of things out and there and by the old molded road without hardly even having to search. So very few findings were whole and fresh but we didn’t really expect they would have been given the circumstances under which we discovered them from beneath tight rocks and fugitive sand where the earth was silk. We knew sadder histories had been told because when it was earlier there had been no perpendicular directions, no arrows left-right-up-down or north-south-east-west, depending on how they read the stars. Their way was questionable. What did they think they were going to find?

1:10   We, on the other hand, concentrated on where we put one foot in front of the other in case two of our friends happened to cross our path as we doubled back. We didn’t dare look up even after our rubber soles wore down and lost their tread, leaving only filled-in footprints. It was the only evidence that we knew our way around in the sand.

1:11   If we had wanted we would have reconstructed the history, but we were so full of it we had to use an extra large cart we’d borrowed from the natives that they’d fashioned from old flotsam, so we knew theirs was filled to the rim too. They were bent on following the sliver stream until it tasted out fully alkaline way outside the bleeding barbed wires. We didn’t bother to exchange names and places: we had no need to and we were mutually aware. We had only the slimmest of chances that any transaction between or among us was out of the question as we were dying to know. We opted for discretion.

1:12   By and by our discoveries grew in proportion to what there was to find or claim as what had before not been there, visibly red where the sun struck, but a pinkish gray where the wind gnawed. It was getting to be more than we had bargained for. There were tall ones and short ones and long lines that intersected on the margin and were in danger of falling off the page so to speak and into oblivion. Something had to be done if it was going to mean something. We were stumped for a while but the cactus we sat on kept spiking up thorny survival throbs and we took our inspiration from that, and knew we weren’t the only ones. We held on to our share of worries, but by then we’d put up the perpendicular sign again, so we followed in the direction the arrows pointed all the way to the place where they ended up.

1:13   We ended up there where the dust had risen then settled after the mother of a windstorm and the air was pure and the sky clear to heaven. It’s marvelous with a great view, especially from on high where you can see all the lines. The long and short of them was not that far away from our vantage point, but we could only get there by going the long way around.

1:14   The lines might’ve been another story had we had the will to survive it. Instead, we were brought down and placed in back sooner than we wanted and were having a hard time adjusting. Be that as it may, we had been on high looking down. We kept looking as if we thought we could see all the way north as if it were up, but our sense of direction was off by a longitude or so along a latitude more or less. Yes we were lost but we knew the sign with the arrows was there somewhere like a rainbow in a clear blue sky after a rain pointed in the direction we were supposed to be. At its end was a pot of beans and chocolates with freshly pureed raspberry sauce on the side and whole wheat tortillas to use for burritos and come clean to our plates.

1:15   At that point exactly it occurred to us we might be thirsty. We’d been up for quite a while and didn’t need to pee but we were on our own and had no one to consult with. Then the generic swedes arrived suddenly smiling big and their skins all sunburned. We thought that might be why the thirst had come. Some had dark hair and others had not-as-dark hair but all were taller than anyone we had ever seen, although not as tall as the power lines. The vernacular swedish they spoke was unfamiliar to us, as was all common swedish. It sounded something like var är toaletten as a question and it made us curious and made us think differently. Maybe it was a matched set of tall mirages with a visual message, and we really did have to drain our water. But they assured us they were essentially swedes.

1:16   We knew it was true when they offered us some of their imported beans and Belgian chocolates. We countered with the raspberry sauce and whole wheat tortillas. By then we were trying to get rid of them. We’d had a bellyful and were beginning to feel bloated and corporeally out of control. They were very commonly gracious about it and offered to remove themselves to another part of the vaster untasted territory. They turned around and we wished them well to their backs about their sunburned skins and told them untruthfully that we were sad to see them go. They had on smiles like swedes but we didn’t see them because we were blinded by the polished-to-a-high-shine chrome of the meandering trail of two thousand hubcaps placed strategically to interfere with our sightlines.

1:17   So instead we looked sideways and saw a half-ring formation of off-colored clowns with their grins petrified from baking all day in that hot enclosed but expansive space. They were out of place and airless but predictably floated trial balloons. Also, their paint was peeling and they uncharacteristically tried to call to us with the levitating balloons dyed brown to look delicious. This time we knew for sure it was a circulating mirage meant to make us feel as if we weren’t possessed and didn’t belong there with that oblique reminder about our absent parentage and abortive efforts to go native or plant airless balloons. They didn’t make sense: because they were false clowns. In reality they were mimes and we knew them for brass hussies, even there where we were with them. The upshot is we didn’t fall for it but there were consequences of the kind that made matters worse. The truth is the truth was not far behind and we were running on bare feet flapping our bearer arms around ourselves making mute signals. They left with their balloons behind them bobbing all in purple and chartreuse but without gaining weight.

1:18   By then we were desperate to be happy again and were down to kicking sand and prone to slicing the air with our useless fists for any small reason or none at all. And also the wind was picking up again more mighty and pushing its way toward us with a loudness that could bring hearing to the deaf, which we weren’t, so it was that much louder and we didn’t like what we were hearing one bit.

1:19   So at that conclusion we were nostalgic for arrows perpendicular or round and straight, anything to offset the then-hot current direction of the passing wind. We held our hands over our ears to stave off the bad vibrations but they persisted. And finally, when we opened our eyes we saw the eagles screaming away at us from their perch on the power lines. They were wrapped in fine silk-like cobwebs that glistened in the new sun.