The Urban Sherpa - a blog by Christopher DeWan

(can't tell the baby from the bathwater...)

Read Work and Other Essays, a collection of nonfiction by Christopher DeWan.

Parabola rating=2

Stories stop suggesting themselves to me, as if the woman, the birdy old lady who comes and takes my milk bottles and keeps me posted on the comings and goings in the town, so that I have my stories brought to me with milk and sometimes homemade bread, that batty old gnarl-footed woman with dentures too big, never comes anymore. I am left alone, a swinging pendulum swinging toward stillness.

I am a pendulum. pushed sometimes by an idea, up, pushed, past the horizon. up, into the twilight, up, through the darkness that fits between Orion and Cassiopeia, then falling with vertigo in my belly and balls, and I get all giggly so I want to jump from the swing at the highest point, before --

The inevitable. The pendulum, scorched from its descent, settles. It gets quiet. There is no energy in it. It sways a little, from the wind or from its own memory, we can't be sure; and then it dangles, the Hanged Man, and it dies, having left no arc of its own descent.

The stone hangs alone, on the end of his string, sinking lower and lower, stretching the chord that connects and moors him. He reaches out because he wants to rub against the ground. So in stillness, he is striving, but for something different than height: for a place he has not yet been.

In his dreams, the stone imagines that he is a grave, and that he has been planted up to his knees in the ground, at the head of a dead woman. The stone has finally planted his feet in the earth. He is not dangling anymore, or reaching; he is still for the first time.

'Oh, the earth is cold!'

He tries to speak to the old woman, whose head rests on the stone's feet.

'It is wrong for her to lie so close and not speak! As if resting costs nothing!'

The stone thinks the woman is full of stories, that she has closed her eyes so she may dream herself, walking, like a pole, from porch to porch, delivering milk and bread and stories. The stone thinks she is dreaming all of her stories, so that her life in stillness is richer than her life in waking.

But the woman who delivered milk is dead, and she has no more stories. She has set them all free, given them away in little pushes, so that they give lightness to the stone weight at the end of the pendulum. As the stone realizes this, he wakes from his dream and finds himself still, dangling from the end of a string. He is no longer the grave; he is the stone. And he doesn't know if he has all of the stories in him, or none of them.

The stone is part of the pendulum and seeks motion. I am the pendulum seeking stillness. Outside is an old woman I used to see often. I can't imagine where she's gone.