Breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire
Just like that: one moment you were there, the next you weren’t.
I did not know the poor fellow who collapsed clutching his chest, mirror-like eyes crossing the present to stare into death’s final glare, body graciously arcing through the air as if on a race to meet the polished wood flooring. The man looked no younger than ninety eight, the skin on his face shiny as a new garment’s tag – it was easy to tell, the ones who so dreaded the inevitable slip into oblivion they lost themselves in the process to avoid it, and ended up slipping nonetheless.
One could wonder what became of the body in an environment that recycled even the molecules of one’s sweat. I forbade myself from questioning too often, the workings of the cogs in the machine floating above my head so as to maintain the equilibrium of my questionable existence.
When one starts to wonder about their importance, they fall down the slippery slope of wondering about the importance of anything at all and the bottom of that specific cliff bites, and it does not release its grasp.
I’m having trouble focusing, and step away from the piano. The time is just past dinner, and most folks are mindlessly dancing the floating tango of the moment of fullness and stillness, satisfaction at its peak and senses tuned only into their smug bodies. My own feet follow a protocol of their own, willing their soles to follow the carpeted path towards the bar, that an intrinsic display of floating glass shelves and bobbing lights and liquids – my hypocrisy hits me, slaps my cheek with a velvet glove, and disappears as quickly as it came.
“Will, m’boy” the bartender, Horace, chuckles, and through my body curses the same inexplicable twinge of anger as when I’m referred to as a surprise.
Words needn’t be said; he pours me two fingers of the wretched whiskey they concoct here, an awful mixture of the mashed barley they grew in the farms and some essence of the delicacy brought up here directly from the Earth. It strikes me as odd, the mixing; let it be, let it be. Essence is in its uniqueness.
As my fingers start trembling, sort-of-whiskey halfway up to my lips, I realized I had worked myself up to such a state because I saw it, just then and there, in the collapsed fellow: how it all ends. Regardless.
One cannot allow oneself such thoughts.
So I returned to the piano, folks expecting the soundtrack of the night to carry on as usual, background to their pompous chatter and barrier to my own thoughts.
Are the ripples I’ve caused going to cross a hundred million light years on their way away from me?
Am I marking myself in space for doing so?
The simple pianist in the luxury boat, passed by one thousand souls who notice him not. For the pompous, plastic, finite voices in their heads aren’t imagined, no, they’re just artificially intelligent, enhanced, split from their essence;
Men moving atoms moving universe.
*opening quote: TS Eliot, The Waste Land