Issue 82, Winter 1981
What I have been doing lately: I was lying in bed and the doorbell rang. I ran downstairs. Quick. I opened the door. There was no one there. I stepped outside. Either it was drizzling or there was a lot of dust in the air and the dust was damp. I stuck out my tongue and the drizzle or the damp dust tasted like government school ink. I looked north. I looked south. I decided to start walking north. While walking north I decided that I didn’t have any shoes on my feet and that is why I was walking so fast. While walking north I looked up and saw the planet Venus and said, “It must be almost morning.” I saw a monkey in a tree. The tree had no leaves. I said, “A monkey. Must look at that. A monkey.” I walked for I don’t know how long before I came up to a big body of water. The big body of water was blue and silver and rippled and looked as if it had been a painting painted by a woman. I wanted to get across it but I couldn’t swim. I wanted to get across it but it would take me years to build a boat. I wanted to get across it but it would take me I didn’t know how long to build a bridge. Years passed and then one day, feeling like it, I got into my boat and rowed across. When I got to the other side it was noon and my shadow was small and fell parallel to me. I set out on a path that stretched out straight ahead of me. I passed a house and a dog was sitting on the verandah but looked the other way when it saw me coming. I passed a goat eating green grass in a pasture but the goat looked the other way when it saw me coming. I walked and I walked but I couldn’t tell if I walked a long time because my feet didn’t feel as if they would drop off. I turned around to look behind me to see what I had left behind but nothing was familiar. Instead of the straight path, I saw hills. Instead of the green grass in a pasture, I saw tall flowering trees. I looked up and the sky was without clouds and seemed near as if it were the ceiling in my house and if I stood on a chair I could touch it with the tips of my fingers. I turned around and looked ahead of me again. A deep hole had opened up in front of me. I looked in but the hole was so deep and so dark that I couldn’t see the bottom. I thought, What’s down there? So on purpose I fell in. I fell and I fell, over and over as if I were an old suitcase. On the sides of the deep hole I could see things written but perhaps it was in a foreign language because I couldn’t read them. Still I fell, for I don’t know how long. As I fell I began to see that I didn’t like the way falling made me feel. Falling made me feel sick and I missed all the people I had loved. I said, I don’t want to fall anymore and I reversed myself. I was standing again on the edge of the deep hole. I looked at the deep hole and I said, You can close up now and it did. I walked some more without knowing distance, I only knew that I passed through days and nights. I only know that I passed through rain and shine, light and darkness. I was never thirsty and I felt no pain. Looking at the horizon I made a joke for myself: I said, “The earth has thin lips” and I laughed. Looking at the horizon again, I saw a lone figure coming towards me but I wasn’t frightened because I was sure it was my mother. As I got closer to the figure I could see that it wasn’t my mother but still I wasn’t frightened because I could see that it was a woman.
When I got closer to this woman I saw that I had never seen her face before so I looked hard at it because what if I saw it again. When this woman got closer to me she looked at me hard and then she threw up her hands and I realised that she had seen me before because she said, “It’s you. Just look at that. It’s you. And just what it is you have been doing lately?”