Bio Note: Writing is one way I try to make sense of this conundrum called life, playing music is another. My newest collection, Rocky Landscape With Vagrants, is available from Amazon and the publisher (Cyberwit.net). Another collection, A Careful Contrition, will be forthcoming soon from Shanti Arts.
It’s nearly impossible to target the day when spring’s new buds appear on branches, but one morning there they are again. The same can be said of the precise moment when child shifts to adult, replete with taxes to pay, gnawing concerns that leave bitter aftertastes and restless nights, the rising rumble of mortality’s reminders, eroding the physical like waves crashing repetitively onto shore. Death creeps in quietly, invading the periphery, ducking out to deliver sporadic somber surprises. Pray hold on to that precious youth, its careless summer frolicking, its lies of invincibility, promise of endless future waiting to be filled with realized potential. It’s a parlor trick, but back then, you and I and all our peers believed it, sold on the idyllic in books and films and songs. Life was complex in its seeming simplicity, with social mores as likely as hillbillies striking it rich, a man with a Martian uncle, identical cousins, an astronaut with a lovely genie in a bottle, a talking horse, a weak-spined adman married to wish-delivering witch, and more. We were all fish out of water eager for laugh-tracked solace, as an unpopular war stole our young men and protests came in the form of music and drugs. We sang along then, hoping love might affect an older generation’s dangerous policies, but then violence put the dreams on hold indefinitely. Now, decades removed from those disappointments, we look back fondly at those long-ago summer hopes, the innocence of intentions almost quaint in retrospect. In the autumn of our existence, we rake up leaves of our remembrance, forming neat piles to show our growing children, as they binge on reboots and variations of what we once watched to divert us from our problems, knowing already the next shift in the cycle is rapidly underway.
Attention to Detail
Decades later, she appears, a vision from the distant past, quiet secretary who worked one office over at the corporate relocation company. I think her name was Naomi. After announcing my upcoming departure for a better paying dead-end job, she cornered me in the break room to confess her secret passion, writing erotic novels evenings and weekends under some French pseudonym. She already had sold three, and would soon be doing it full-time, but I shouldn’t let anyone there know. I had nothing to counter her confessional thrust and parry. For a few restless nights, I thought about her – wanting to read her books, understand the intimate Promethean fantasies her words brought to life. Since I couldn’t remember what her fake name was, I would never know. Soon enough I was staring at the green phosphorescence of another cathode-ray tube, another screen in another building featuring glass, polished steel, and an abundance of cubicles. This one was for a large Japanese international shipping concern, loading bills of lading from the real world descendants of Hakudo Maru, the celestial being of myth who first visited this planet to teach humans to build ships. Now ships named Maru this and that supplied mundane inventories that I was tasked to enter rapidly into a parlay of spreadsheets that must have been important to some retailer somewhere. I was living the grind of brain-numbing boredom, but my attention to detail impressed my new bosses. Within a year came a transfer and a promotion, then a move to corporate headquarters in mid-town Manhattan. Six years later, I was heading a division that specialized in lawn care accessories. I had fashioned an unlikely career from a lack of ambition and curiosity, but I was considered a financial success. That was decades ago. So why was this woman I had totally forgotten appearing in this strange near-morning dream? I’m certain it was Naomi and she looked positively ravishing. Had she come to remind me of all the abandoned dreams, the myriad opportunities not taken, the sacrifices I could have made to pursue something more meaningful to my very own heart and soul? When our eyes met, I felt chided. But she smiled in a way that was warm and reassuring, then came closer to whisper something in my ear. Before I would wake up abruptly, she said, “Chloe Aphrodite.”
©2020 Gary Glauber
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