When I look into the mirror, I like to catch sight of my watch dial, the large blue three grins at me, pleased at having the whole of the dial to itself, as if it were making its solitary way through a personal pa pizza. Lone numeral that it is, it gets people to stare at a watch that guards the secret of the time of the day so cryptically. It is not a watch that you can snatch the time out of in a quick glance from far away that you can pass off as uninterested. You’d have to catch my eye and ask me, I who have come closest to reading it, what the time is. Then I’d flick my wrists, trying hard not to say “Three’ o’clock” and divine the position of the minute hand (I’ve never managed to get it exactly right on this blank white dial) and labour through the “by five’ multiplication” to give it to you.
While I walk through these streets at three’ o’clock, it will tick out of step with my sluggish stride as if it were unwilling to travel along side me through an afternoon nap. Why, it would sigh, as shuttered shops slumbered on, as salesmen linger over a late lunch away from their counters, the rare passer by exchanges glances with me in solidarity, one more who has forsaken the semi-darkness of a curtained bedroom for this heatless heartless glare of this winter afternoon.
And it would sigh again when I step out again into the night this time, waiting for lights to pop up in my head, like streetlamps flickering over the angry buzz of surprised moths.
And when I return , you’ll say, look at your eyes, you haven’t slept. I want to tell you that they have always been dark, those eyes under my eyes that see you clearest. How much do you really hear? You’re a valley away, mistaking echoes for speech and missing every new word that drowns in an old wave of bouncing sounds.
This isn’t exile for you, but a return from exile, for you have been away from where you ought to have been all along. You’re dangerous, a man who has neither a spiritual nor a geographical conception of home and wanders in circles like that minute hand of mine over an unsteady pulse, cornering me into a dishonest approximation.
6 months ago