I don’t know when, or how, only that in a strange city one April I awoke to snow and understood my old life had unceremoniously taken leave. On a street, abandoned to the whiteout to come, I saw, if that is how things were, and it unquestionably was, I would similarly and ruthlessly have to take leave of it. And so, in the middle of the flagstones, the concrete, in the snow, I started with my socks. Or rather, the old and tattered woolen things I’d worn all winter above them. Then my socks. I thought about my shoes, too, but, what with the snow, I thought, they might as well just wait.
I could say, and I would like to, that I can remember many of the days in the year that came. I don’t.
I do know that some of the days were longer, some less, some drunker, some not. I do know now that disorientation, like death, requires no narrative.
I said I’d started with my socks. That’s mostly true, if irrelevant. The point was whether it was then that I began to understand degree. No, it was not. But the tableaux: a sockless man in snow. A fading into monochrome. The monogamy of confusion. Today I often think, if the image were a card, its reader would likely say: collapse of convictions. Flight.
It had been a feast day, or near the equinox, I’ve never been good with dates. Through the spit and drift at times, though, a bell, an echo. By the trashcan the usual bits of glass, cigarettes, of paper. Strange color a strange orange back against the gray and somewhere up the street (or was it down?) a figure stumbling, but as to whether toward me or away impossible to tell. Around the corner a cemetery, stones blackened rough and fissured, some split into twos and threes, a wrapping of white arabesques in ivy.
The notes went next, then a book, a thin ring of keys. Some other assorted ephemera along with the lint and dirt of days which lined my coat pockets. What else was left? What couldn’t be done with all the time, I guess.
At some point later on (had I been standing in front of the cemetery all along?) I began to wonder how, or rather if, it was possible to unswallow apocalypse.
First lights slow in the day’s long dark.
How we prize what indeed we once thought we despised, a thought to the uncovered head, happy lyricism in its turn had not absconded, I watched the figure shuffle into the dim tunneling to move down the hill to center. But scared by such sudden flights it remembered the hat in its hand. Wide street now too nothing in the white being stitched to white, silence layered on to silence, and there, precisely there, faceless buildings cold, fingers cold, &c.
The trick, it had been effected.