This Is Up Front
by MARK ARTURO
NEW YORK – Three men walked all the way back from the front of the line, coming up to us. Their arms filled with packages, they said they wrote the future of the world. Now they were purchasing supplies and the like, lumber or metal, to make palatable the less fruitful aspects of the dedicated life. I said, “What will happen, in the years to come, that we should know about?” They thought for a while and tossed Starbursts into each others’ mouths.
Outside of Home Depot, one man had a parrot in a cage and another men was heckling him. The parrot repeated both of what they said in a slightly less horrifying vernacular. Traffic was moving backwards on the parkway. I was saying goodbye to everyone, and the way I was saying goodbye was with tiny backwards motions of my fingers, alternating even and odd.
Central Park. In the shallow water, my cousin Arlo sails a paper boat. The crest of the fake boat rejects the shadow of a wave. Further down by the Polish statue, in 2007, I was told I was loved next to a seal. I think of him (the seal) on Easter, and alternate Wednesdays. Ash is a language, sailboats are a language, lost to us.
Arlo is the type of cousin one regrets not having at a younger age. He moves in time with the waves, but there are no waves other than the sound variety, massacred by the chattering of finches. The slow onward progress of events impresses an echo but nothing further at this time. Arlo repeats non-sequiturs to himself. They say that is the habit of a growing, learning child, but I disagree, having observed it up close. It is more like a reflex.
After I drop him off at his mother’s, I walk the shadow side of the street past the hospital. A group of monks are harassing tourists. A bunch of men, all 5’5″ and shorter, are comparing different bowling balls in the courtyard of a church. When I come back on Sunday, there is a pile of Christmas lights as high as a man.
My new apartment is painted a color two shades from the natural repose of a man ensconced in brick. “I would like to see you on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday if I can get off work,” an e-mail reads, and I send it to a specific archival folder where it can be reconsidered as if it were a legislative proposal. Someone else’s best efforts are bound to be disappointing.
a) Made the left turn, never went to Philadelphia
b) Partial prints, partial apologies, men in auburn-crested suits
c) Offered up under my name, Mark, also the name of many others. We should have one way of addressing ourselves known only to the animals
d) I wish I had touched the heel of a vessel to the top of this gangly haberdashery, crossed and languid in the molten core
e) or even said her name aloud
f) not voting for Hillary Clinton
g) more caution can always be used upon the crossing of an avenue
God repeated a statement of fact as if it were a divisible question. We know the query is an answer to whatever other question there was before something existed. Now, to the time where nothing existed. Who made the first word in the first mouth, and abdicated the rest to the imaginary?
It is great to be able to talk about these things in a city, because no other setting can handle it properly. When I get home the men of the future are engaged in a vesting and intricate argument. They believe, as do I, that the key is the measuring unit, and then the amount. Without knowing how much of anything we can desire, and survive, we must test out the correct volume. Anything else would be a broken promise.
Mark Arturo is the senior contributor to This Recording.