Friday, March 30, 2012

Thousand: Seven Hundred Three

shadowed hall, the girl gives the rest of the line a half-smile and a shrug, then follows. “Dum de dum, dum de dum, dummity dummity, dummity dummity, dum de dum, dum de dum,” the girl chants. She hangs back to let the guardian lead, tempted though she is to sweep right on past and see for herself what the big deal is. At the end of the hall a blue-tiled fountain drops water from a bowl mounted on the wall into a larger bowl below. The pittering, plunking, plashing begins to sound like voices, the closer they get to it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thousand: Seven Hundred Two

her across the rubble to the women’s gate, “she thinks, considering how I got here and all, that the right thing for me to do is check and see if I’m on the list. So, is there a disco back there?” The fat guardian nods. “Your guide was right to bring you to the head of the line. Come with me.” The guardian leans forward and, with a grunt, pushes herself to standing. Now I’m supposed to traipse on in? the girl asks herself. As the guardian, rocking side to side with small forward steps, leads the way down the

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thousand: Seven Hundred One

who knows what you harbor from a fling with a celestial body. “Name, please.” “I don’t know if I even want to enter your stupid city.” The guardian of the gate, a fat woman in sand-colored robes, a single peacock feather bobbing from her headdress, raises her eyes and lowers her quill. Her eyes narrow as she looks the girl over. “First an angel led me to the camp below the city wall. Then this woman,” the girl jerks her head more rudely than she intends at the old woman who fixed her robes then took her hand and led

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thousand: Seven Hundred

have gone. Or her other clothes, for that matter. As she fiddles with the desert robes, trying to make sure they don’t flop open or fall off entirely, the girl wonders. Of course, if you’re going to go wondering about things, starting with where your clothes have been tucked away would be considerably less ambitious than wondering where the fuck you are, how you got here, and whether contemplating your next step would be more productive than investigating your last. So far just going with it hasn’t resulted in bodily injury, even considering the likely ingestion of hallucinogenic coffee and

Monday, March 26, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-Nine

the lips, a filigree on the wind, a scrimshaw on the ear. How many faces do you walk upon, the moaning in the dust of lives flayed from bodies, drifting like cobwebs? The girl opens her eyes. The city walls are still there, the line which may or may not have moved. The old woman has moved away a bit and is looking back at her. “Let me not complain,” the girl says, as she gets up, her legs more sore and stiff than she expected. She ties on the sandals they’ve given her; she's not sure where her shoes

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-Eight

accidentally, perhaps, like a lioness licking one cub while the other bumbles off, she tastes claws down in her tummy and feels the tickles of a mane against the slick granite of noon. The girl closes one eye, then closes the other, and under a blue and yellow sun sees a dancer shift from a fifth foot to a sixth out in the sandy rubble. The hands of the dancer flutter like doves, six on a side. “Have you hurt me?” she sings, the words in a language the girl has never before seen, the meaning an intricate imbrication on

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-Seven

looks about on the ground. The girl holds up a cane, and the woman takes it, nods. She begins to walk away. The girl assails the cup in what she sees as a last attempt to conclude its emptiness. The coffee in her mouth seems ever more formidable, swallowing it requiring a jaw that detaches at the hinge, that is if this ancient liquid would give itself to the body like a dead god still lighting cups. It’s not that it’s large but that it’s feisty. Ferocious. And when it allows a bit of its power to wander into her,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-Six

people have come for time out of mind to learn.” “It’s like a college?” When the old woman doesn’t answer the girl sips again from her cup. If she’s ever to get to the bottom it probably won’t be today. She tries again, “It’s a school? They ask you what you want to learn and stuff?” A smile flickers across the woman’s face, as though a pleasant memory disturbed her surface. “It is no college. Not in the sense of teachers and scholars.” With a mild groan the woman pushes herself from the cushion and rises. Rubbing her knees, she

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-Five

easy. You have to pass an interview. They ask you questions. The guards at the gate. They ask you all sorts of things. Where you were born. How many stars are in the night sky.” “How many angels can dance on the head of thumbnail?” the girl interjects. “Only men at this gate,” the woman says. “There is another gate where they allow women. Where they ask questions.” She shrugs. “They ask questions and you give whatever answer you have to give. If what you say is what they want to hear.” “What’s in the city, then?” “It is where

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-Four

thunderous rattle. The eldest woman says, “The gate is open.” Three of the others leap up and begin gathering the emptied plates and soiled napkins. The spread is quickly whisked away, the cloth on which it was laid out also rolled up and carried off. “The gate to the city,” the girl says, looking again at the line of people winding down from the city wall. “Why isn’t the line moving if the gate is open?” “Only a few are allowed to enter,” the old woman replies. “Do you have to have an appointment?” “Yes,” the woman returns. “It is not

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-Three

with the chewiest, sweetest, bitterest coffee that has ever made her feel six feet eleven and three-quarters inches tall. “Let’s just say this one more thing before I refer further angel-related questions to any angels as may appear. There is no man in the world that could take you like an angel.” The old woman pats the girl on the arm. “If the angel led you here and spent the night with you, then this must be the place.” She nods at the other women. “This must be the place, yes?” Just then they all turn their heads at a

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-Two

glances into the canopy the wind keeps tugging at. The sun is so bright it pokes through the material as thousands of tiny stars. An odd-shaped shadow seems to reform itself along a seam and she is not sure she saw anything at all. Nope. Nothing to see there. “If there are man-angels, yes, they must be totally awesome. But maybe they’re man-angels one day and the next something cozier, warmer. Deeper.” “Did the angel? Did the angel take you? Like a man?” The circle is quiet. The girl shakes her head and picks up the cute little cup muddied

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety-One

You know, right all through. Like I’d been incomplete and was now complete. Content. Not missing anything. Not waiting for something that never really got here.” Some of the women are nodding along. But one of the youngest wears a skeptical look. “Sounds like you needed a man,” she says. Tuts and giggles around the table. The two girls look each other over. “I needed an angel with a cunt,” says the girl. The challenger flushes while the other women laugh. “So you’re saying a man-angel would have been awesome?” “Huh.” The girl pops another date in her mouth. She

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Ninety

that, who knows, really? Except. You kind of expect an angel to be kind of uh scary.” “Sublime?” offers an older woman. “That means scary and beautiful?” “Filling one with awe. Dread, in the sense of feeling your smallness before the immensity and indifference of the mountain. It is supposed to be inspiring, I believe. Viewing the sublime. And intimidating.” “Right. You’ve got where I’m coming from. I mean, I’m not saying this angel was a cuddly stuffed bunny with glitter in its fur. But he uh she whatever sorry this angel was comforting. Like, I just felt all right.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-Nine

girl looks over at the city wall. A line is forming before a gate. The line doesn’t seem to be moving. “I stopped thinking of the angel as a man.” Two of the women chuckle. “I’ve never met an angel,” says a third. “What's it like, meeting an angel?” “Reassuring. I don’t know if you can generalize from my experience. I’ve met one angel. I only know it was an angel because that was what I was told. ‘Hello, I’m an angel.’ ‘Pleased to meet you. I’m lost.’ ‘And now you’re found! You see?’ So, you know, angel this, angel

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-Eight

her body with perfumed oil, rubbing briskly at dry spots. Then lightweight robes are lifted up the length of her arms and settled on her shoulders. While she is standing there, swaying, a little dazed, the angel walks in, touches her chin with two fingers. “What happened after that?” one of the women at breakfast asks her. The girl picks up a date, considers it as though it were naked, just washed, about to be dressed; she slides it between her lips and bites the sticky flesh from the oblong pit. After dropping the pit on a brass plate the

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-Seven

She shivers, then laughs. When she tries to reach for the sponge, the woman smoothly avoids the grasp and firmly, gently lowers the girl’s arms. The sponge, soaking wet, rounds the girl’s forehead, forcing her to shut her eyes. So she gives herself up this stranger’s expert ministrations. Rinsed, soaped, rinsed again. Never inundated, hardly even dripping. Patted dry, she steps off the towel on which she’d been stood and, looking at the rug as the towel is removed, the girl doesn’t even see a wet spot. The woman slips a currant jelly into the girl’s mouth and runs over

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-Six

unlace the girl’s shoes. “Uh. Wait. This is a bath? I can. I can do it myself. It’s okay. I can untie my shoes and stuff.” The girl backs away from the woman’s quick fingers and finds herself stepping out of her shoes. She grabs her pants as they slip off her hips. When did her belt disappear? There it is atop the rug pile and neatly rolled. Arms encircle her, which briefly reminds her of the angel’s embrace. She is naked before she can do more than mumble protests. A holey sponge slides its cool water over her collarbones.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-Five

wearing layers of diaphanous blue sweeps in, a basket half as large as she balanced on the crown of her head. She kneels and, as she is lifting the basket off, her arms tremble. The girl jumps up to help and is amazed to see the basket, lined with some kind of cured animal skin, ripples with clear water. The woman unwinds from the top of her head the two towels on which the basket rested. Then she loosens a sash, which turns out to be another towel and, twisted inside that, a globe of soap. The woman bends to

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-Four

I want for Christmas, the girl thinks, is a dollar bill. When she is spotted by the locals and quickly taken to one of the tents, she doesn’t understand the language but the sun-darkened faces are smiling. If they are puzzled or confused by her presence, by her not-so-crisp white shirt and pleated trousers, or by the words she speaks, they don’t seem bothered. Sipping at a skin bottle of tepid, slightly sour water, resting against a pile of rugs, the girl finally notices that her angel is missing. “Figures,” she says. “I bet he knew the lingo.” A woman

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-Three

few shadows out of the spiny shrubs and cacti, then tucks itself back under. But the stars are beginning to fade anyway. In the distance what the girl assumed were mountains resolve into something else. A city? Much closer than mountains. Are the people who live there friendly? It wasn’t lit up at night. Has it been abandoned? She rubs her hands together, tongue’s dry. The complaints of camels, the shouts of camel drivers, the jingling of chains. Below the city walls to the left of the road sand-colored tents hang from taut lines, upright poles. The sky whitens. All

Friday, March 09, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-Two

is a nice night, isn’t it? You can hear the soft silence of everything, sleeping. Unlike those other sorts of nights where you can hear the hard silence of everything, tensely waiting. There aren’t any words to this song. Nobody needs words anymore. Glow. The girl and the angel are walking side by side now. In fact, the angel seems to be lagging a bit. Not that he’s slowing her down. She’s feeling good, knows where each foot needs to go. The moon peeks up at the horizon, rises a ways, not far enough to do more than push a

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty-One

girl thinks to herself, as an ethereal vibration passes through her. And so they walk. At first the angel pulls her along and from this vantage she ought to be able to get a good look at him. If she does, she retains little. He must be just a bit taller than she, for she doesn’t have to look up at him. Much. His arms are long and slender, legs, too, and body? If everything’s so long he would be a tower. Might he have wings, neatly folded across his back? Partly folded, perhaps, they rustle and rearrange themselves. It

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Eighty

at this new figure. He (or she?) gleams moon-bright, but, even in this dark night, she doesn’t squint against his light. The light soothes. The light enters her heart and warms it. She takes a deep breath of the chill desert air and feels warm. Ah, I see, she thinks, amused, I am dying of hypothermia. I read that when you stop shivering you feel at peace with the world. I must have skipped totally over the shivering. Or maybe the going to bed. The angel takes her hand and draws her along the road. He must be humming, the

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-Nine

walls are gone. The stars are so bright she can see by them. More or less. She scuffs her shoe against the road and raises a puff of dust. The arm that rounds her shoulder and the kiss that touches her cheek should surprise her, she will think later, trying to remember everything. Wouldn’t that be one reason it makes sense to regard this all a dream? One of many reasons, that is. “Welcome to the place between places,” the voice says, a voice sleepy as a kiss. “I am an angel.” “I suppose,” the girl says. She looks sideways

Monday, March 05, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-Eight

a tenuous fog gathers. Great. I’m going to get swallowed up by that fog after all, the girl thinks. She’s chilly again and wishing for the jacket she left in the hands of the paranoid zombie. She rubs her shirtsleeves with her hands, then reaches up, stretches toward the. It’s a night sky, she realizes, lowering her arms. Stars in a night sky. The fog the milky way. She climbs down from the chair and finds herself standing on the hard packed clay of a desert highway. “Knock knock,” she says. The tables are gone, the chairs are gone, the

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-Seven

completely. And, with an abruptness that makes her fear for her balance, the heavy closeness that has made the air a chore, that has her sweating and tired, swirls away with the light. Fumblingly (she has to try three times before it fits) the girl refastens the lid to the keybox and slides the box into her pants pocket. She wants her hands free. What is happening could require them. She doesn’t know what is happening. Somebody turned on the air conditioning? The. Or. Her eyes readjust to darkness. The darkness is paler than it was. Especially directly overhead where

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-Six

No luck. Mostly, she gets blinded. So she tries pushing. When the chair shifts under her, the girl stops. What did the overseer do? She knocked on the white box and it opened. The girl lifts a fist to the ceiling and knocks. Rap rap rap. Will anything come to anything? She lifts her fist to knock again and, just before her knuckles touch, a rap rap rap comes from above. That might not even be good, but before she can doubt the choice the girl answers a rap rap rap of her own. Then the keybox light goes out

Friday, March 02, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-Five

of your heels. The girl pokes her finger into the box and waits for a tickle that does not come. It is only the outside of the box that glows, the lid more than the main portion, so she takes the lid off and turns the light to the interior. The white satin glistens back. With two fingers she widens the slit in the satin and tries to look inside. Nothing tiny and black scurrying about. Not that she can see. She holds the lid up, tipping it this way and that to see into the keyhole over her head.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Thousand: Six Hundred Seventy-Four

version of events, whatever, that’s fine. A person can talk to herself. Sometimes the only person worth talking to, you know? She dips her finger into the satiny interior of the box again, waits for the tickle, then pokes her finger into the ceiling. She does this a few more times, and starts to think about other things. She burps and tastes tortilla chips and wishes she’d drunk more cola. Or not. She’s never been in a tornado. There was that time the bus smacked into a VW. If dogs had wings you’d have them following at your ears instead