Mark Cunningham

Unseen Bird of the Inner Eye
When I was seven, my body rolled out of bed, turned left at the hallway, and walked out the front door. My father shepherded me back after a neighbor called. When we visited Chicago, our ex-policeman host showed up naked in the door to the guest room, .45 in hand, to warn my parents there was a prowler downstairs. I'm not sure how they got me back to bed unshot. I'm not counting the time I woke up in the front yard (that's only half), or dreams, which is the mind playing solitaire, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Maybe even sleepwalking doesn't count: my subconscious mind must have been guiding me. Still, the body wants to do something on its own. And it can outlast you. On her first night as a mortician's assistant, Judy turned away from a body stretched flat, eyes closed. When she turned back, the body was sitting upright, eyes open. With only a little resistance, it let itself be laid out again.

Northern Mockingbird
I was the perfect viewer of "That Obscure Object of Desire": I didn't notice the lead female character is played by two women. I still can't distinguish between the eleven or so narrators of "For All Mankind". It's not that I have ADD—just the opposite. I've heard that one way to reach wisdom is to view the world as a dream or a movie, my dream or movie. It takes concentration. I made it through the rainiest spring on record in Virginia by imaging I was in England investigating crop circles and chasing those little UFOs that look like interstellar bowling balls that have rolled into the gutter but are smart enough to fly back out. The perma-drizzle was almost bearable. One February, I kept thinking I was in Finland, near the Arctic Circle, long nights with a few hours of twilight between. The land was scoured flat or buckled into glacial warp; I ate the same fish stew for dinner; I introduced the local punk band to the Misfits. When I remember that winter, I think of how the low sun could get right in my eyes when I was trying to find my car keys or rinse a glass, and I'd have to stop what I was doing and close my eyes until it was dark enough to see.

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