Monday, October 29, 2007



The air conditioning isn't working. The heat keeps me up.


Only the sound of the fan whirring. Occasionally a dog barks in the distance. My body is damp and feverish above the sheets. I turn to my side and look out the window. More night. Not a star. Dark and frightening vortex.

Heat. Heat. Insufferable. I curse my body to feel.

My camisole sticks to my skin. I fling it off. It drops over the side of the bed onto the floor.

I need to move. Discomfort is making me impatient, restless. So I get up, walk over to the bathroom, and splash cool water onto myself. In the stillness that ensues I become afraid. As much as I love the darkness of night, I am still afraid of it. I never want to go blind.

I quickly walk back down the corridor. Then collision. My hip meets the angry jut of a table edge. Grimace. Darkness is cruel. A day later he sees the bruise and asks if it was him. No it wasn't you. He smiles. Then without warning, pulls me to him and bites me hard on the bruised hip. I cry out. He says he wants me, wants to possess. He shoves, grasps, is rough. But I want to possess too. I fight back, fling myself onto him. He throws me off. His shadow is above me, my arms are pinned. I make to knee him in the groin and he starts back. I manage to pounce on top of him again. The struggle continues. Wordless grunts and heavy breathing. Love and madness. The deathly expression. It stops when he has me by the neck , smashed up against the wall.

He waits to see what I will do next. I hold his gaze, and reach down without looking away. I find what I want. His strength fills my hand. Soon I can feel his ragged breath against my cheek. At one point his eyes seem to implore. Then he is far away. His grip around my neck tightens. I nearly choke. Then a final moan. Wetness against my thigh.

Our bodies fall away. The aftermath makes me feel lost, but he tells me, "I' ll have you yet."

Thursday, October 18, 2007


It is raining. I go grudgingly, but with the slight hope that something inspiring might come out of my encounter with a man so attached to the earth. A friend of mine has urged us to meet. I have agreed because it will help with my research. According to my friend, this man grows his own food and is "spiritual". He is alot older than I. The rest I do not remember. His countenance is a faded memory (well it was never a memory) and I do not care to fabricate it.

I meet him on the edge of the university campus and we walk rather hurriedly to his garden nearby. When we arrive I am disappointed by the wasteland I see: rocks everywhere, junk littering the ground, no verdant oasis, no profusion of the earth's bounty....

The only awe-inspiring plant life I see is a mammoth accumulation of long, pointed leaves with jagged edges. Somehow it reminds me of the spikes of a dinosaur. It could easily have existed in the jurassic age. He says that one day it just appeared, and within days, had grown to a stupendous height and girth, and at its very top, it had sprouted a large, red flower. Too bad the flower is gone now. I would have loved to see it. He points out a patch of squash plants upon which, grow wilting, trumpet shaped flowers of a faded yellow. I spy a little squash which appears as if by some freak accident out of the rock covered soil. Then he shows me the tomato plant which seems to droop a little beneath the rain. The tomatoes are either a pale yellow or a muted red. We walk two paces and he shows me a little rosemary plant with stunted, needle-like leaves, then we move onto a patch of arugula, potatoes, basil, onions...

I feel nothing. I want to get out of the rain. He assumes I am ignorant and keeps asking if I know what a potato is, if I am familiar with arugula, and so on...I find it hard to believe he thinks I am that stupid. For a moment I think perhaps his conception of a potato is different from mine, and that he means to imply that he has some kind of esoteric knowledge of what a potato really is. Naturally, this strikes me as equally absurd. I am irritated, but it bothers me more that I am left wanting. I wanted to devour something with my eyes, to smell something in the air, but if there is abundance, it is only beneath the soil. All I perceive is the paucity of plant life, and the mumbling determination of an old man consumed by his lonely vision of a lost Eden. But I wish I can see what he sees. My cynicism has a habit of blinding me. Delusion or not, I admire someone able to contrive for himself a paradisical niche in a world corroded by the destructive forces of today.

After he has picked a handful of arugula and tomatoes, we venture into an empty classroom to talk and have lunch. He casually places the unwashed vegetables on the table, and we proceed to eat them as they are. My palate must be absolutely destroyed by inorganic, chemically altered supermarket fare, because try as I might, I cannot tell the difference. "What do you think?" he says, as I place an arugula leaf in my mouth. It is arugula as I have always known it. "It's stronger at the finish", I say, partly hoping to induce by words, the novelty of experience I certainly did not feel or taste, and partly to appease what he was expecting of me. Next he urges me to try the tomatoes. "Here, you will notice how many more seeds they have, unlike the supermarket variety". I pop one in my mouth. It yields too easily, and without the pleasant burst I was anticipating. The seeds are sparse. I concentrate harder. Where are the seeds? I notice that he is looking at me with a slight smile. I cannot bring myself to say anything because of my disappointment. I nod my head enthusiastically and assuming that I am silenced by amazement, he breaks into a grin. Then he takes half a loaf of bread out of his sack and cuts a sliver off with his knife. He tells me that he made the bread with rye and wheat grown on his family's farm. It is stale, with the slightly sourish odor of yeast. It tastes natural, but by no means a gastronomic revelation.

He talks about the miracle of plant life. He repeats himself in many different ways - ingenuity is the garb of his mundanity, or perhaps I should say, his simplicity. It makes me wonder if we are all just repeating ourselves in creative ways. I say little as usual, but he asks about my literary studies. I tell him about the painful beauty of human perseverance, and the writer's endeavor to wrangle out of the inner chaos, one golden word, and then another, and another, until inner disorder transforms itself into outward expression. He likens it to the cycle of plant life - how the plant struggles continually at each season to emerge from beneath the darkness of the soil, and into the light.

At the end of our conversation he gives me a plastic bag. Inside, there are three fava beans. He tells me to put them in a shallow dish of damp tissue and to wait for it to sprout.

I have waited nearly a week The seeds have grown moldy and I don't really want to see him again and it's just awful that I am revolting against the presence of such a kind man.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Pianist

I have been watching him for awhile now, from a shadowy corner of the auditorium. There is no danger of him noticing me. He is completely absorbed by the immediacy of expression. His hands touch the keys and there it is: his soul professed in sound. I envy him. I nearly cry, because I wish I could let it all out as he does. He sways. His eyes are half shut. He transports himself. I don't know to where. Oblivion perhaps. The dissolution of self into sound. He keeps going and going. Hands roaming across the keys with the dexterity of spiders. He exhales music with unbearable perfection. I inhale perfection that isn't mine. I am tortured. Envy. Envy. From the inner primordial chaos he can produce an immeasurable expanse of penetrating, beatific sound. And I, barely one clear note that will ring with equal precision. Paralysis. My mind is numb. I think I am mesmerized.

Friday, October 5, 2007


My foot was falling asleep. A squat, lardy, bespectacled, dumpling of a man in a tracksuit was reading a sutra through beady eyes I could barely make out. He stood before 20 or so college students who sat cross-legged on scarlet cushions. Behind him were vivid images of bodhisattvas and framed photographs of this lama and that, including an autographed image of the Dalai-Lama. Thankas of the bodhisattva, Avalokitesvera were unfurled over the windows, blocking most of the light.

The man, who was a lama, recited buddhist prayers like a schoolboy stumbling over his verses. His chin warbled as he struggled along in an emphatic American accent, occasionally losing his place then starting up again.To my weakness, I couldn't go beyond the comedy of this being who was nonetheless trying to expound the profound wisdom of the dharma.

In front of me sat a girl whose doughy arse bulged out of low-cut jeans. To my right was a young buddhist enthusiast and the most eager of the students. He wore an ethnic inspired jacket and was thinner than me, girlish in appearance. He sat bolt upright, transfixed by the lama in the tracksuit. I couldn't stop staring at his effeminate hands. A person of 2o years or so, his voice still echoed with puberty. What a delicate human being, I marveled in silence, as my attention strayed towards a prayer wheel, whirring mechanically amidst the nasally drone of the Tracksuit-Lama whose pudding-like form had not budged once from his firmly rooted position.

I reminded myself that this place was sacred, but I felt the cruelty of a snigger playing upon my lips, attempting to breach my self-restraint. I chastised myself, thinking that I should attempt to see beyond the absurdity of appearances, but it was horrendously hard. The immature need to giggle overwhelmed me and the threat of those bubbly emanations dammed up inside me made me fidget. I bit my lips, glanced to my left, and saw my friend listening attentively to the Tracksuit-Lama. Everyone else was taking him seriously. I felt silly, mirthfully so. The comical figure of the Tracksuit-Lama had awakened something in me which convention and respect silenced. Sometimes we readily consign ourselves to solemnity when we can just as easily yield to euphoric laughter.