SUPINE IN MY ROOM, room service all-day-breakfast polished off, I sleep through the day and the following night.

 

After the smoke of this bout’s preliminary dreams has cleared, I see a body of water before me and the hooded shapes of pilgrims.

 

I fall into step with them, skirting the shoreline, making haste.

 

The air is warm, going on hot. Across the water, I see the lights of a city that just keeps growing. It becomes a heaving, sweaty port, a place of foul and libidinous disembarkation. Ships are pulling into its harbor, and the path we follow toward it grows ever more crowded the closer we come.

 

In a brutish Holy Holy Holy kind of rhythm, the pilgrims chant the name of Professor Barry Dalton.

 

Winding around toward the city, I am overcome by exhaustion. I see a bed of leaves and moss by the riverside, under a willow, and go toward it, thinking I’ll just sleep for 15 minutes.

 

As I’m taking off my shoes in the moss, yawning, I think about time. I am still young, I think, and have never known what it is not to be. I cannot imagine parting ways with my youth, going on alone from there. I stretch out on the moss, and picture myself as an old man, in a building somewhere in town, in a chair with a blanket pulled up to my chin and a wool cap down over my ears, a cup of cool tea beside me, the bag in a little saucer beside it. Perhaps then, as I spend day after day thinking over my life, backing toward its end, my only regret will be, why did I sleep for 15 minutes when I was young?

 

I catch up with the pilgrims and filter with them into the port city glimpsed in the distance, resolved now back into Dodge City, no longer a port.

 

In the main square, we form a crowd beneath the platform upon which Professor Barry Dalton stands.

 

He begins, or has begun.

 

His voice is such that no one can be anywhere near it and maintain a single private thought. Not even packed in ice for later. All distraction, all inner randomness and diaspora, dries up, and we’re riveted, listening in arctic stasis.

 

His speech is laying a new foundation for Dodge City, I think, building it up directly beneath our feet, and I can feel the structures of my former life, in Germany and before that, being ground down to stock material and pushed into a pit.

 

Finally, I’m reduced to two ears glued to the sides of a bowl.

Advertisements