The Near East
Back from a recent dig, the archaeologist has reported the startling results from a heretofore little known and largely unexamined stratum in urban excavation. Located in the littoral—the region exposed by tidal comings and leavings—somewhere between plastic bags, empty cigarette boxes, tangerine peels, water bottles and candy wrappers, lies a thick layer of discarded manuscripts of indeterminate age, almost undecipherable with the detritus of lunches, years and ill winds. What follows are some fragments newly translated from, apparently, a proto-Greek argot and may contain calendrical calculations, grain storage records, or possibly be cult related.
• You will try, but not very hard, and not often, never regularly; you may never know if you succeed. Upon reflection, you will be unsure what you have tried, when you do.
• You will feel pain whether you kill the ant or not. The pain you render others by your manifestations will be unnoticed by you.
• You will almost never be able to complete the Friday crossword puzzle, but you will feel extraordinarily proud on finishing the Wednesday puzzle.
• You will forever be harsh, rude, ironic, sarcastic and blunt to those whom you think of as lesser.
• Albanians will appear to you as “other.”
• When inwardly urged to connect, you will substitute showing off and, once again, walk away with vague discontent.
• When the hourly bells chime in the village, you will think there is a message, but not knowing what it is, you tell yourself that it will come to you—later.
• You will never leave well enough alone, mistaking any small forward movement for a triumph.
• Pondering the question If dogs run free? you will, indubitably, wish they did not.
• If emotions are a horse, you will, at first, whoop them on, then run in terror at their eyeball-rolling power.
• You will always be in thrall to the power of white clothes pinned to the line in a pleasing order, billowing, shining in the sun.
• Each day, twice a day, you will wish you could write, paint or draw the holy feeling of the sheep, passing down your lane.
• When your neighbors pass by you will be too shy to say the only Greek sentence you know, and they will never, never ask: “Do you like to swim naked in the moonlight?”
• Jug band music will never fail to move you.
• Even painting the white gate white again, you will see only the old and the new drips.
• When a fire approaches your house you will discover that you have carried away useless things.
• You will see this country burning, another flooding, migrants in inflatable rafts trying to reach your inhospitable islands, looking for work and you, you will wish for a car.
• While awaiting the “rebirth of wonder” you will focus on your lack of proper shoes.
• There will be two Gods guarding your gate, but you will keep it locked.
• Possibly there will be only the one time that you swim naked in the moonlight.