cielo para techo
y pasto por el suelo
solamente nos separa esta cascara de piel
paredes no existen
sino el cambio de oxigeno
y el dia pasa luz entrando sombras
quiesiera yo vivir en la casa gigante
afuera con el aire, sol y lodo
volveré yo un dia bien cercita
para reunirme y amanecer en todo
flores ya creciendo
sobre la tomba de tus padres
no tarde mucho el impulso de seguir
consuelos no existen
sino la sonrisa de saber
que la noche nos secuestra entre suenos
The stink of regret steamed off the pages as he wrote… regret for the past, regret for the future, regret for regretting even this slack-jawed, slumbering moment as it yawned by. Trapped as he was in a gutter of thoughts, there was no thinking himself out of this. Not even a nap would help. Life’s weather had swept in from the sea, caught itself on the Cascadian mountain range of consciousness and dumped precipitation down. That indefatigable wetness, seeping into every nook and cranny, every pore of existence, melted little bits of dirty mountain, cleansing what was good and rinsing all else into channels nature had cleverly devised for run-off, waste, for toxicity and decay. For people like him. “I should have been a pair of ragged claws…”, he echoed- familiar words from what seemed a lifetime ago.
The overwhelming gutter in which he found himself today was that very thing, a central vein of collection and evacuation of all that was putrid and deficient, corrosive and festering, ferrying it down the path of least resistance into the wretched, bottom-feeder sewer of being. He had watched that siphoning process unfold from behind a window so many times as a child- tropical midday thunderstorms that within minutes transformed a fecund, lush landscape of color into a torrent of angry mud and frothing rages of grey water. Chaos and transmutation were as prolific as the jungle itself.
The property line ended at the boulder filled river that snaked along the bottom of the small foothills defining Escazú, a winding, untidy definition of a town seemingly arranged by the vagaries of earthquake and volcano more than by human will or fancy. The water would go where the water would go- there was no getting around it- not in those days, anyhow- and the gringos would mostly all gather under the nearest overhang or shelter and shake their fists and curse, calling it ‘primitive’ and ‘backwards’. A rickety barbed wire fence lined the house’s side of the river gorge, but the fence kept losing ground to the onslaught of torrential rains and erosion, causing Cruz, the barefoot, machete wielding groundsman, to replace or adjust it after every rainy season. Where the ground flattened out at the bottom of the hill, just before the edge of the ravine that held the river, they had dug a pond that first season to catch the normal runoff from the pothole riddled dirt street- ‘street’ being a euphemistic reference to what was barely more than two parallel ruts for tires- and water trickled, and then cascaded, into the pond for at least half the year when there was run-off. Before the dry season set in, before the grasses turned brown and the earth caked and cracked beneath. Before the tattered looking locals who usually collected water at daybreak and did their wash down at the river would line up at the house’s white iron gate with their buckets and tins and pots and gourds, ringing the intercom button incessantly.
Rusty remembered the bulldozer getting stuck in the thick clay mud, almost sinking halfway before they could hitch up the neighbor Fernando’s cattle truck, quickly laying down spare planks of wood and broken pieces of red Spanish roofing tile to give the wheels extra traction before the hungry ground sucked that in as well. He wasn’t sure, but he seemed to recall his sister getting stuck, too, chubby-thighs-deep before the workers heard her screams and came running. Constructing a pond was their obstinate, passive aggressive way of getting the last word since it fundamentally was already a pond, just without the order and containment of stone and mortar. It seemed so childish or full of hubris to actually attempt to impose a false order. Had it not occured to them, the gringos, that nature had her own tropical order and didn’t need any help from their inept, maladroit northern sensibilities?
It was funny- not ha-ha funny but rather odd or incongruous as it occurred to him- sitting there half broken as he was with customary yellow legal pad set at angles and black rollerball poised for action, that his current residence in the pacific northwest- land of moss and constant drizzle- was by no accident a befitting oddity in an already bizarre series of synchronicities that had thus far framed his life. Oh, what was that line by Frost, he wondered, the one his quirky college lit professor, Dr. Johnson, muttered to himself absent-mindedly as if transfixed, causing all us freshmen to snicker with awkwardness? Oh, yes…“What but design of darkness to appall…what but design of darkness to appall…what but design of darkness to appall…,” a phrase equal parts ominous and reverential.
It was hard not to feel beat down by life when life itself seemed a ubiquitous house negro- collaborator, conspirator and slave to time. Every second that elapsed was one more not recognized, sixty of them collected were a minute closer to inevitable ignoble death, times sixty more was an hour’s worth of wasted life- breaths drawn for naught, heartbeats and synapses pulsing toward the great magnetic zero at the tail end of a cosmos that seemed to be his fatigued, desolate destiny, a tiny piece de resistance of absolute nothingness. A magnum opus of shit and puke and endless, hopeless drivel.
It wasn’t that Rusty lived an entirely unproductive life. There had been and continued to be fleeting, intermediate overtures and come-hither moments, glimpses of wheat fields swaying gently in wind, beckoning a harvest in which he felt himself to be vital- fluid and animate- a positive force in the world. Had he not, in fact, witnessed that very scene in some Van Gogh painting? Yes, he could picture it- sublime fields of golden wheat…somewhere…he had seen that. He was sure of it. And even if he hadn’t, his imagination had conjured it up, and that was-and is- more real than anything.