So simple… so quiet… so inviting… but alas…
I have promises to keep…
and pumpkin pies to eat… before I sleep.
Wow, thought Blurtso, counting the twenty Patrick O’Brian novels I have, and my copy of Leaves of Grass, I now have a library of 5,021 volumes… five thousand of which I wrote myself.
What’s the matter? said Alex. I haven’t been sleeping, said Blurtso. Why not? said Alex. I keep thinking of Lizzy. Lizzy? said Alex. Yes, said Blurtso, a donkey I saw on campus. What’s so special about Lizzy? I’m not sure, said Blurtso, there’s just something about her… I think I’d give anything just to brush against her. Really? said Alex. Yes, said Blurtso, and it’s driving me mad. Like in the poem, said Alex. The poem? said Blurtso. Sure, said Alex, the sonnet by Shakespeare: “By day my limbs, by night my mind for thee and myself, no quiet find.” Yes, said Blurtso, that’s it. Shakespeare sure knew donkeys.
“Another day,” thought Blurtseau, “and another night. The king is dead, and those who killed the king are dead, and Napoleon consolidates his power while those who would kill him wait in the wings. And the once-full moon that illuminated my vainglorious victory now wanes with a warbling light. Tomorrow the fighting will begin anew, the British, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian, Sardinian, Greek generals… and all the world spins with the bones of the living and the bones of the dead, so many dead, those who pursued a borrowed or inherited dream, white bones in the soil, white bones in the surf of the sea, bones as white as the flickering tail of the waning moon, sparking and submerging among the breakers, flickering water reflection of fleeting sun echoed upon half-eaten moon, half-eaten moon half-eclipsed by the globe it now reflects down upon… half-eaten glow that grows dimmer each day… until the moon, the day, the night, and all our blood-urgent exploits fall dark upon the darkness of the sea, and vanish in the low laving sound of the waves eating the rocks with their dance of disintegration.
“And when the moon goes black, the stars will mark my path to Montecristo where Echo, alone on her island, watches the same silver flicker on a different surface of the same sea. And the light that flickered in her heart? Has it fallen prey to the same dance of deterioration? Will I find the moon already extinguished in the sea of her breast? Eclipsed by the vainglorious sphere that was my haste to depart? The misguided course of this star-crossed corsaire pursuing a sinking star? Yesterday’s hero is the dark side of the earth facing the dark side of the moon, is darkness double, two-faced night’s faceless faces, an echo of existence which touches no ear, a shout across an infinite expanse, an unreciprocated smile, a source without destination, a word from the heart that never arrives.”
“My heart is an echo of the disintegration
of the heart of the universe
that penetrates and disintegrates my own heart.”
It’s time to practice reading, said the teacher. Virginia, will you begin on the first page? “Here is Spot,” read Virginia, “See Spot run. See Spot play. Funny, funny Spot.” Excellent! said the teacher.
O.k. “big-nose”, said the teacher, continue from page two hundred thirty two. “Twas brillig,” read Ditto, “and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe; all mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe…”
“Virginia,” said the teacher, “How much is three plus three?” “Three plus three,” said Virginia, “is six.” “Excellent,” said the teacher.
O.k., said the teacher, let’s have “big-nose” do the next one… Tell us, “big-nose”, how many arc seconds per century is the perihelion precession of Mercury relative to the earth, and what scientist provided the theory to explain this precession?
When I heard the learnèd school-marm;
when the proofs and figures were ranged in columns;
when I was shown the charts and diagrams,
to add, divide, and measure the heavens;
when I, sitting, heard the school-marm in the school house,
how soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
till rising and gliding out, I wandered off by myself,
into the mystical cool night-air, and from time to time,
looked up in perfect silence at the stars.
(altered from Walt Whitman)
My store is open! said Blurtso.
I don’t know, said Pablo, you may need more flags.