Days turn cold through my window onto the Suicide Cemetery, in all its unfinished fascination. I take down more Dhalgrens and fashion for myself a hat, scarf, and gloves. The left glove is snug out by the ends of the fingers, chafing with that Thinsulate tingle (sewn, as it is, from the part known as The Anathemata: a plague journal), but, determining myself capable of overlooking minor discomfort, I suit up and am soon ready to go.

 

It’s been long enough indoors. A stroll around the still-unfinal plots of the Suicide Cemetery should do me well. Plus, I’m curious to talk to the proprietor about his apportioning scheme and maybe (or maybe not, who knows?) make his acquaintance more generally.

 

I attempt to cross the street across which lies the Suicide Cemetery fence, but, like the horizon when you’re trying to swim somewhere, it turns out to be farther than it’d looked.

 

So now I’m on what may be more of a hike. I tie my shoes tighter.

 

After a period of waving grass and occasional boulders, I find myself in a clearing ringed with rock piles. They’re too far away to make out clearly, and look fairly crude, but I can tell they’re manmade, monuments or markers.

 

There are others, heads wrapped in shrouds and faces down, hugging themselves tightly around the bottoms of their ribs, walking in loose, private circles.

 

They circle a center defined by two large creatures, similar to one another but not of the same species. Both resemble giant horses, between thirty and forty feet tall, and eighty or ninety long, from head to tail. One has tusks, like an estranged relative of the mastodon, while the other’s head is lost in a mane long and full as a weeping willow, hanging to the ground.

 

As the shrouded and murmuring faithful trace their wide arcs around this center (remaining always between the creatures and the rock piles, beyond which lies naked steppe), the creatures brush up against one another, stare into each other’s eyes, and then retreat, an air of sadness, or of disappointment, hanging hugely down from them.

 

It occurs to me, as I stand at a safe distance and behold them, that they are ruminating on the impossibility of interbreeding. I can tell this with a certainty that reveals a change in state that I hadn’t, until now, perceived in myself.  Like two mules of different provenances, the species-pull between them is great, but not as great as the reality that there is nowhere left for it to go. They paw the ground, sniffing and snorting, and then turn, lumber away, and then repeat.

 

The faithful continue their prayer-loops, mouths working constantly on syllables that hover well beneath the semantic sphere.

 

I breathe out, and out, and out, spitting out my mind until it’s empty.

 

Then I fall in step, tracing this same circle around the beasts, aware suddenly (and utterly, as if I’d always been aware) that this is the antechamber to the Suicide  Cemetery, invisible from my room’s window through some mere trick of the visual plane.

 

Into me come syllables, and I mouth them.

 

I begin, compelled by a habit I didn’t know I had, to give voice to a litany of Faulkners:

 

The Greek Faulkner. The Faulkner who wrote a 10,000-page novel and nothing else. The Yankee Faulkner. The Lady Faulkner. The Faulkner still to come. The Faulkner who renounced Faulkner to become Dante. The Hebrew Faulkner. The Faulkner who sold his name to the highest bidder. The Faulkner who ate his children to become a god. The Faulkner who refused his calling and attempted another. The Faulkner who produced his masterpiece by age nineteen and died of typhoid in Africa. The reanimated Faulkner, walking among us. The Chinese Faulkner. The Oulipo Faulkner. The Faulkner who didn’t appreciate the mysteries of race. The fossil Faulkner, whose bones were read and transcribed by German archeologists. The Faulkner whose works were melted down into The Book of Blood and added to the Apocrypha, following Esther. The Twitter-quip Faulkner. The Faulkner who wasn’t all that good. The Faulkner who told it funny, like Beck. The millennial curse Faulkner, whose words infect all those who behold them. The cold, cold reptile Faulkner. The paid-by-the-word Faulkner. The Faulkner who wrote for God alone (and whom God alone has read). The disembodied, possibly nonexistent Faulkner, whispering up from a pit. The joke Faulkner, trotted out for little kids at county fairs. The pure math Faulkner, conjured only by rare and fearsome derivatives. The revenant Faulkner, shut away in the attic of a condemned mansion, pushing hand-written scraps under the door for a lumbering half-wit Keeper to gather up and bear away.

 

Speaking makes them so. I see them all, heads-shrouded, murmuring incantations of their own, circling the infertile beasts, around and around, all day long.

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