The Autobiography of September
by Jesse S. Mitchell
This first appeared on my blog commonobscura.blogspot.com
What is the difference between living and dead? A moment perhaps, a half-split-second falling down, sliding, slipping into a watery comfort of oblivion or a slow fizzling down to a passionless wasting…both, neither, everything. What is the difference? Is it temporal, physical, emotional or mystical? The beating pulse of blood in the tip of my finger gets stronger. My mind rolls along this morbid line of thinking. The smell of diesel fumes comes creeping through my window. The squat delivery truck rocks back and forth, chugging impatiently, belching out thick gas and grey clouds. Horns are beeping, men are walking, boxes being handled and moved, lights change in vain, no one moves…the sight and sound and smell of everything is frozen in constant motion. My blood rises as I watch the always-burning of outside. I can hear the cathedral’s bells clanging. Paying honor, rich brass sound waves reverberate…the shockwaves of force on force…exploding and ringing…blasting out the ruckus of supplication. Out of the big bad grey heaven above me fall tiny specks of grey ash and soot. Darting through the fluid sky comes a ragged bird, rough and thin on two scarred up legs--a grey pigeon, but I pretend it is a soot and grime-covered dove…peace from out of the sky…sent from above…sent by God. He heard the bells. The delivery truck chugs and leaps without warning and rushes off into the clutter and clatter of city streets and the bird disappears back into the sky in a flash of feathers and fuss. I am all alone in this red-brick and black-iron tomb. The fire escape rocks in the wind. The sound of metal against stone sets my teeth on edge. Madness. Crazy groping of inanimate things. Manmade wildness now far out of man’s hands…my grasp. I breathe so hard it hurts my lungs and pulls my muscles. Peace. Fire escape, to escape what fire? The fire of dormant passion? This world will explode all over when it finally goes and no feeble ladder down to a second level will save my flat feet. We are all doomed together. I have given it all I can. Let your body be the bottom firestick and your mantra the top and rub together and rinse and repeat and condition if necessary and the fire of God…passionate things…the mystical way will take you…the fire. Thank God, I have a fire escape. The pigeon has returned. The horns continue to beep and blare. The cars run and wait and race and stop and nothing changes for more than half a split second and everything freezes back into place. What is the difference between life and death? I cannot tell and neither can the ten or so people lined up at the fish market around the corner. The old man with shock of white hair sticking out from under his houndstooth Rex Harrison hat has no idea…not yet…but soon…I can see him already starting to fade. His hands shake as he holds and folds and holds out his ratty newspaper. Oh the awful humanity of humanity. The blood pulses inside me.
The truth of the matter is this: I have no idea…about where the line lies between this and that…life and death…pulsing urgency…peaceful calming. I cannot look back and see where it is that I started. I have no idea. I get caught up by things and carried away. A thin scrap too frail to fall, floating aloft in all this lovely breeze that covers over the face of the Earth. There are times when lying very still I begin to think that perhaps I am the last and greatest thing standing between the two giant halves of the universe…the last thing standing in the way of all kinds of beauty…I keep all the pretty things from blooming through. I get lost in the power of the thought. Lost in the snowflake similarities of each and every still so different terrible thought. In the cold grey-flannel pajama night I toss and turn, moaning in my mind…but the truth is that I still have no idea and all of that is simply sick fantasy. I am nothing but the same as everyone else, a spiraling piece of misplaced virus DNA coming closer and closer to a quick self-extinction…or just the last and newest member of an ever-widening family of troubled people. Our last hope. Down the hall I hear the click of hard heels on the soft stain-addled floors. I can hear the creak of doors and the momentary buzz of light bulbs switched on and off again. The constant searching of the weary human eye. I watch the pigeon walk back and forth. The pacing soothes it. The truth of the matter is this…I have no idea, none whatsoever, but living is not dying and living to die is definitely not living…but dying to live…dying to live…now there is a thing that can make my blood pulse. I can feel the heat of blood inside my body circulating…moving…pacing back and forth.