A Toast to the Dark
I search my sock drawer for a clean shirt to wear. On the subway, I pretend my briefcase is full of secret nuclear launch codes. My maternal grandparents arrived in America on a ship that was built in the same shipyard as the Titanic. All these years later, white judges in black robes are still going back and forth about who was responsible. When I emerge from the subway, the sky looks as if it has been digitally altered. A philosopher pondering the transformation bursts now into tears, now into flames. Then, calmly and coldly, the destroying angels clink glasses.
The landlord was on the phone demanding the rent. There were some crumpled bills and a couple of bucks in change on top of the dresser, enough for cigarettes and scratch-offs, maybe a bottle of Italian Red. I quoted the Psalms to him: “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself. . .” The sunset faded as we argued back and forth. An almost purple black settled over the city. I brought a full container of gasoline with me next time I went out. A passerby who caught a glimpse muttered, “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.” Roots twisted and bulged beneath the asphalt.
‘Alexa,’ I Said, ‘What’s the News?’
Workmen have bricked up the windows and doors of houses belonging to the government’s worst critics. The pilot of the airliner that went down had been slurping Chivas Regal straight from the bottle for hours. There are colors in nature that birds can see and humans can’t. A former prodigy, in commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima, played a burning piano on a beach. And though the smoke choked him, and the scorching heat of the fire melted his eyeballs and peeled the skin off his hands, he just kept playing until the piano stopped being able to produce sounds.
The Titanic Sails at Dawn
Against everyone’s advice, I adopted a retired bomb-sniffing dog. The dog was like something out of an animal fable. He was personable and chatty, but restless, impatient to go on adventures. I called him “Flash” – after the flashing lights of a migraine, I jokingly told anyone who happened to ask. My real mistake, though, was allowing myself to be persuaded by the dog’s entreaties. We’ve been stranded ever since at the land’s edge where the gulls cry, “Go, go.”