Charles Freeland


Expect no relief until the sun has completed its circuit six hundred times or more. Even then you are apt to recall bits and pieces as if they had been seared onto the fabric of your memory like characters from your favorite books, or films in which the back door is somehow left open and strangers enter but are not allowed to leave again because that would ruin the plot. It would make the whole thing too believable.


That’s the key, isn’t it, recognizing who is calling out in actual pain and who is simply mouthing scripts and pageants he has memorized previously. When the town was overrun with snow banks the size of pilot whales and where the only real entertainment to be had in the evening was found in the fresh cut pages of hardbound books. And between bed sheets that felt identical to those pages on the tips of one’s fingers – scratchy and foreign, tinged with the cold realities of other worlds never before suspected. Worlds with parrots in them and pilgrims and the scent of cinnamon and detergent.


Perhaps the best way to approach her legend, the brute fact of her forever on the periphery like the ornate frame of a painting by an artist whose name we do not recognize, is to simply shift the focus to those few things – objects and processes, ever evolving kaleidoscopic emotional states – we do understand, at least for the moment, at least for that period of time when we have yet to start blaming others for the choices we ourselves have been entirely too cowardly to make.


Starlings descend on the valley after a long and convoluted process of causation too tedious to run through now. They come in truly inconceivable numbers and formations, clouds of them twisting around on themselves in infinite variation and acrobatics, along with the numberless, nearly invisible flying invertebrates necessary to sustain them through the evening and into the chilly early morning hours when everything finally gives up, everything finally returns to the earth, exhausted and only temporarily forgiven.

Charles Freeland is Professor of English at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. Recent books and ebooks include Albumen (with Rosaire Appel), Eucalyptus, and Variations on a Theme by Spinoza.
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