Bryan D. Price: From Herculaneum


There was a long pause or break, like a canyon or rupture in time. Someone said something about the peaches rotting in the trees, drying out and as hard as knuckles. Everything from that summer came back to haunt, deepen the rupture. Remembers the old man’s reedy whistle and crucifix tattoo and how he went around armed like Hobbes describes men in Leviathan. They buried him in a beige suit with turquoise buttons and carnations got thrown all over the churchyard. Later he looked through the window and vines of morning glories at a child descending stairs before the mother came and scooped him up. Flew away like a flock of geese. Some old aunt said, Golgotha awaits. 


When sun finally came out it was too late to do anything except mix coffee with calvados and wait for it to set again. He went from window to window (as was his habit) and watched the wind. She used to call him on the telephone and then telephones became obsolete. Something arid about writing letters. He lied in letters (like talking to doctors). A voice on the telephone is warm like the ocean at noon. She spread a blanket across the sand and the sun was like a wet spot in a clay sky. A crow looked at them with eyes that said, I’m in mourning. He put his arm out for it to clamber up and she slept on his chest (like a cat).


He always read the last poem first in a book of poems. He read poems about Clytemnestra that way, about switchblades and dogs and how love dies on the operating table. There was something aphoristic about reading poems (like dreaming). He sat there waiting for something to be revealed, which is why he didn’t wake up knowing what he was going to do (the essence of its tragic nature). It was unthinkable, and thus never thought about. But it was a warm day in December. He opened the window and the wind felt different (like propane or jet fuel). Yes, he thought, everything is bad but there is a secret context that may change everything (like how in certain languages the word for sky and heaven are the same). 

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