How Many Are Left?
by David Clear
How Many Are Left?
Where am I? I don’t even want to bother asking who am I anymore. I’m dead, I must be dead. Of course, why else would birds be pecking at my flesh?
There it is, that sound. I know what to expect now, what will follow it. The wave; invisible of course but as palpable as a caress. Like an astronaut in zero G. Just floating. Flying, floating, free as a bird, a bird out of its body, alighting upon mine where also no one is home.
I tried to jump and couldn’t, something or someone held me back on the bridge. Pushed me back, landing hard against the police car. Taken in for “observation.”
Tried to hang but the rope broke like tissue paper. It was new rope from the outdoor store! “Going climbing?” the young clerk had asked. “Sure,” I said. “This will hold you, you can be sure of that,” he said with Olympian confidence, tugging the blue and white strand in demonstration before ringing up the sale.
Drank and took drugs and they just went in one opening and out another, usually the same one. Old guy at a bar told me he drank with Jim Morrison. Said that Jim, like so many non-famous people, was trying to take poison and live. “There’s bold and daring,” the guy said, “and then there’s just plain stupid.”
What about Mallory I wonder, or any of the other explorers who died doing things that seem so suicidal, why are they different from Jim overdosing? Seems we’re all just trying to arrange that damn cube, get all the sides lined up. Do the birds have the answer? So, what if they do, I can’t understand them.
It’s like hitting the snooze alarm, just another five minutes. And then another and then another. Minutes and moments – the bars of the illusion prison; nothing so gross as steel and metal. Far more insidious. Shadows and shadows of thoughts and thoughts of wispy Spanish moss mirages you think you can put your hand through and then when you do it sticks to your skin.
So, you grab on to the rope. This time the rope is attached to one of those hanging tent systems big wall climbers use for multi day climbs. I’m not afraid, I know I can’t fall. But can I fly? Can I climb? Obviously, looking up, there’s a fair amount of rock to climb. I can’t even see the top. Wait, could the cliff wall be the cube? Could climbing it be the way the tiles are arranged so that they form that seamless symmetry of decryption? And decryption of what?
If only there were some tidbit of confirmation that it was all worth the bother, worth the trouble to arrange all the pieces according to the right color. Have I deliberately marooned myself, chosen a forever exile from the light for the seductive siren call of the shadows?
Four birds landed, one decided to fly away, how many are left?
I dreamt once I was either in the body of james Joyce or was James Joyce in a past life. Possible, he died 14 years before I was born. A voice over my shoulder as I wrote at a desk said "Make it more accessible next time." So I became a near high school dropout and began traveling in search of experience with which to make my love of writing accessible. 48 states, 35 jobs, 2 marriages, two 12-step groups, Zen and multiple new age spiritual paths, and 40 years later I may almost be ready.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'In the Thrall of the Raven Queen'
'The Dentist said'
'The Road's Gully'