Joni is a bird watcher. In Alaska bird watching is quite solitary. She read about an ornithologist who also made music who drew birds in Alaska. What kind of person digs a hole a body shaped hole in the snow, lays in it, alone, unless it is a two body shaped hole which Jeni laughs at – she is not mad at being single for so long but thinks about it softly like her cigarette smoke moves – he lays in the cold and draws little machines, which he is taken imaginatively by, he resists the sexual term when he says this, as if one can vanish things, ideas, by occluding them, so he tries, he has a slight facial tick which he ties this to, he has read psychology, he takes survey books of all kinds out into the snow, mostly scientific but occasional fiction or even, he thinks of this exotic, poetry, like a safari, in tropic amazon or Africa, yet he is at the extreme acute region related to these – Alaska – he does not think of it as the top, a moral superior choice, like his professors senile flap flapping or in his home town, the golden dyed hair, like divine halos on family brains, rather it was just a one conception of orientation that could be reversed with the tilt of an orange. He loves oranges. Put one finger in the middle of a globe – now use an orange, a tennis ball, the sweet smelling sport, cans sealed with some noxious fume like green cleaner or gasoline, the intoxicating dirty damage, put another finger on the top, say Alaska, and voila, one is higher than the other until you rotate the tennis ball so’s they tropics are on top, this moral special judgement has caused murders, what if I were to draw the bird to the left and not the right because of superstition, he thought, the way God puts good people on the right side and the second fiddles on the left – ptooey – the left ball hangs lower, this is not tennis, Jeni thinks. Jeni must be unliking other humans he thinks, to go so far away from them, yes so far, he has been alone for… One book given him by who was handsome bound but cracked in the cold it held an essay a charming essay which opened my eyes Juni said simply opened my eyes to the ways of time which the article treated air as a liquid and so trees as sea coral, one of these analogies, they were on the standardized tests given children, inventions of aliens: if all zarqos have three legs or more and all Bebobs have two or more and then some question testing faculties of classification, of symbolic logic someways, and so people are fish so our civilization is under liquid and so if you are cynical, Jeni does not think of hisself as cynical but nods cracks his fingers, then the world might as well be Atlantis the fallen civilization and Atlantis might as well be our garden of Eden story, hm, why not, it explains why Jeni would want to watch birds, the Holy Spirit – ptooey – came down in one in his psychotic, always saying passionate, as if it were not synonymous with a hard on, again with the occluding, the gold head culture with stringy as snot intonation – revolting – but it was the only way to get what ever and whatever was attention one wanted attention one wanted. He was discovering new species he thought, each time, before returning his results to the study where he sat in a wooden chair and read in the encyclopedia and discovered his species was already there. He did not shred the drawing did not trash it or tried not to do these things but sometimes would misplace them and be unable to find it and not know for a long time and always look in all the same places – in the drawer where he kept only the revolver, in the file cabinet, on the shelf, in the piles on the left sides of these, on the piles on the right sides of these, the piles that stood alone next to the toilet and three doors between the bed kitchen and bath rooms, why he had so much room he sometimes wondered, why he should have been taken by birds in the first, he remembers watching them two ways, one is in clusters moving like a dream, like the bows of violins in the orchestra, he used to love to watch and how handsome they all were in their fitting black clothes like a ceremony of transition, like becoming a man, the dust cloud of birds like a pattern on a tie, a dress, circulating with a dizzy order, and one night leave the sound circle – no – a sphere, it was organic, and one more night follow it [paranoia] and these would rise and return in a little while, he did not ever obtain their songs, yes, recordings, but when he whistles or sings their songs he sounded so like them! – never getting any where in a language he did not know, it was a land he was estranged in and a song he only tasted, the second firstway he loved the birds was in the creek bed in the park he had taken to walking miles to and he would smell the vegetation and hear or not hear the water, it would dry up in the half of the year, the brown then grey time, he would walk along the rock edges and be eaten from by mosquitos, think of my blood being transfused, Jeni was confused and abetted by science, whose mechanical ways so natural, musical, whose unknowns so dream like put his ideas into a pen, a pen without a floor he would say and laugh. The dead bird in the creek was intact and dry. Its wings unfolded like blinds and reminded him of steel, the atlantis essay loved steel, said it was noble, Godlike like the ornithopter bird.
Image Credit: Ben Rubin is an artist in many mediums, see benjaminrubin.carbonmade.
Michael Huff lives in Oklahoma City and on his twitter @jmichaelhuff. The Atlantis essay that Joni read will be in the Spring issue of Julep. A poem, soon, in The Oklahoma Review.