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18 Fragments: In the Wake of Every Day

On a Monday morning the bus stopped, as a herd of reindeer scattered in front of it. I could not see the reindeer at first, but when we looked out of the window, we could see a reindeer running through the snow towards the sea. The reindeer…the snow…the sea… We can never live this again.

Before we finished work on a Friday afternoon, Bernado the Wandering Argentinian sat in a chair eating cold mashed potatoes. We sat together in the cellar of the building where we both work. The company had taken down the barracks where we normally took breaks and ate, but Bernado the Wandering Argentinian had not been told about this.

“My friend,” he said to me, “what is it with this cold?”

“It’s only cold,” I said, “The cold is not your enemy.”

“I understand, my friend. I understand. The cold is not my enemy.”

He set the Tupperware container of mashed potatoes beside his chair. He then hunched over and folded his hands together.

“I should be a gigolo.”

For a moment I thought he said he should be a gigolo again.

“But no. I am too old for that shit.”

“You still have time.”

He looked at me and said, “We could be gigolos together! We could start a show— Los Caballeros! You are from Texas, yes? You have a cowboy hat?”

“I have a cowboy hat.”

He shrugged and picked up his Tupperware and sat it down again.

“It is life, yes?”

“It is life.”

We were quiet afterwards. Bernado the Wandering Argentinian ate his potatoes, and I sat on bags of cement mix.

It was on a Saturday when the bowl of apples on the kitchen counter reminded me of a poem Laura Jackson sent two decades ago.

Applesauce making
day; friend of a friend dies; write
ways to celebrate

Still thinking of Laura that day, I read notes I had made while staying at her place four years ago:

The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision—Fritjof Capra, Pier Luigi Luisi

A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wild Flowers—John J. Craighead

Writings—Agnes Martin

St. Nadie in Winter: Zen Encounters with Loneliness—Terrance Keenan

Georgia O’Keefe: A Portrait—Alfred Stieglitz

The Art of Greek Cookery—The Women of St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church and Art Seiden

Second Space: New Poems—Czeslaw Milosz

But that glad word—home—
Is known to no one now.
We all look through foreign panes

At the end of every day, clothes are piled on the office floor. I can hardly go from the door to the desk without stumbling on something—knives, shears, a hardhat, and books, a calendar someone gave me only last year.

Photos by Wes Kline