To live in this world:

At the end of the day, we count what we have and what we have used up. Around the pile of what we have, which nearly touches the ceiling, a circle is drawn in white chalk; we point and say, "This is our life." Then we look at the pile of what we have us ed up. It includes the lost and the discarded, everything we broke and everything we let escape. Someone makes a phone call, and in less than ten minutes police are unraveling yellow tape like intestines to seal the area off. "Everyone back," the offic er orders. We quietly step back. "Move along," he states, "there is nothing to see here."

The following days go fast: traffic patterns, the movement of celestial bodies, unexpected weather formations are discussed and then dismantle; someone writes a book; someone loses a limb; there are scattered reports of love. One night I have a dream: I follow a fat boy as he carefully crosses the street, makes two quick lefts, and then other. There is something he wants to show me. Halfway down an alleyway of backyards and spare parts is house. The fat boy points through the window; looking back out is a baby girl with wrinkled skin and clear, bright eyes. I am suddenly scared, but then the fat boy turns to look at me. He says: Better stick close to the surf ace of things.

Does each thing have one meaning, or can multiple meanings exist at once? Is meaning inherent in the thing itself, like the inflexibiltiy of bone, or does it shift? And if it can be delivered, like during a baptism, can it be taken away? S uddenly the fat boy looked up, and we saw something incredible: people were falling from the sky, but they were flat, as if made of paper, and so moved through the air like leaves from trees in long, lazy arcs. As they got closer, I could see from the fr ont that they looked like you, or me – but when examined from the back, everything was visible: organs, veins, skeletal structure, memories, choices, conscience. The fat boy was touching a girl’s heart when I woke up.

We get uneasy when we pass the quar antined block; now and then we look up from counting what we have and the sight of that dark skyscraper wrapped like a beauty queen in yellow tape makes us shudder. But listen: we have much to accomplish. Time keeps herding up along, and there are other dimensions to consider – heights to be reached, lengths to be broadened, depths to be plumbed. Slowly the circle gets ever wider, but we just stick close to the surface of things, keeping our eyes on the prize, waiting for everything to change.


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