Robert M. Detman

Seven Dreams Under the Knife


The hawk tears at my flesh. Imagine that sensation, like being eaten alive. Of course, he only wants to play with me. Leave me a bit unconscious. He rhapsodizes about my taste, comparing it to the most succulent of bivalves. I writhe under his steely beak, his clamoring claws. When he's done, great tragedy, he leaves me alone without a word, his vast wings flapping across the light of the windows.


A wooden house, old bones. In this condition I will strain all through the night. A gentle rain offers no succor, just cools it down. Most days I can feel the earth wanting to sunder from it, render the walls unto dust. A clock ticks, or it's the rain, and I wait for the tremors, hands held out for protection.


When I lived in the tank, I became accustomed to breathing the heady odor of linseed and turpentine. Color here had taste, you can be sure. A cobalt blue was chalk and pomegranate, leaving an insatiable desire for water. Crimson was holy, like the sweet air of one's last moments. Ecstatic, I could barely think about myself then, let alone my undesirable surroundings.


When I made the discovery that I was light and air, suddenly everything was possible. The small confines of my terrestrial life didn't concern me anymore. If the moment was too disorienting, I concentrated on my strengths: the power to burn, the capacity to rive the earth. It was a good lesson.


The stillness of the river is a sadness. For then I know we are going away, never to return. Never to let the bonneted bride lap bare footed in the shallows. Her dance is another kind of bounty. Only a memory. We return to the rage, the canyon and the fall, where we will caress the noble beasts. Our moment of the lily pad, the salmon spawn, forever a mystery.


I've failed to get the word out. Daily they toil on, a juddering mass trying to communicate with an unknown correspondent. I made it as far as I could, knowing that without them I have as little use, as little life. I will die a dry husk under the light of this knowledge.


I will not stop. I have had to forgo the common table, but I make do. Some even see in this effort an inspiration, calling it a spiritual quest. I don't mind, as long as they can offer me tribute, my daily sustenance. The journey only becomes more difficult.


Sherry Belul said...

Amazing, cut-to-the-bone writing.

Anonymous said...