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Argentina Days After Paul Bowles

by: Moneta Goldsmith

It gets dark. We return home. Tea.

One goes somewhere, drinks tea, converses, then the opening of the suitcase, arranging things in the guest room. Isn’t this one of the main activities of my life? Listening to new whispers, breathing strange air, deciphering a strange system of sounds, smells, lights?

The lamps are on, the dogs lay on the rug. When I spoke with them, these details were crawling all over me, like insects, and made me practically absent. As always when I arrive someplace, I spread out my papers along the desk and I stand before the window. I gaze outside in private devotion, as if in the courtyard below there was a palette from which I were drawing paint. I grow restless, re-arrange, pace, fidget. If there is a tree I give myself to its wispy tree breath. I listen for the rustle of the wind, for the sound of the land sent by the trees for the birds to hear. The trees across this country sometimes spread their wide branches out like flags, jutting out over the land, a little too proud of themselves.

Is it not the job of every tree, like great towering erasers, to push the words away? A Poplar tree, the breeze it blows, aren’t these the essential props of every forgotten kingdom of the world?

Shut the window. Whatever fruit is there is there to rot for the crows to catch.

Point yourself toward the bedroom, try to avoid the mirror mounted on the wall. Understand that one of the major ordeals of man is to face his mirror, but the force of another kind of humiliation is enough for you now. Scuttle across the floor to the bedroom like a crab across the sea floor, one eye glancing up to the surface of the water, careful not to be spotted. Outside, the pendulum swings on the branch of the Poplar tree. The smell, the rot of flesh swinging on a rope. Pace, fidget, re-arrange.

Shut the door. Hear the echo of your own blood, a voice outside. Feel the air kiss your forearms a moment, a sense of the door still warm with vibration. The lamps are on, the dogs lay on the rug. Old fruit falls to the ground for the crows to catch.