Ordinary Handsome: Roadside

So you wake up to a myopic glare of smoky light, dull and hot and raw, shapeless drifts and textures. A pounding in your ears, your guts, a harsh wet throbbing pulse in you and around you. Crushed bones and spilled heartbeats, a thrumming drum of pain. All your thoughts scrubbed away, memories blanched, self-awareness boiled out
and then something that used to resemble sleep but feels deeper and more primitive, and not even the rain feels cold because there is nothing outside of you that feels real, a tumble
down a well of darkness, of muddy thoughts and screaming voices
Me. Who is the cypher sinking in this swamp of churning thought? Blood-flow dampness, sensations of grim wandering and peeling back layers of tissue and marrow.
Days and years and moments and fragments pass, the smell of rain and moss and rotting dirt, they pass, bones crumpled like old linen, scarred flesh fills in the wounds and time becomes a moth-ridden blanket that covers you and then unravels meager threads and abandons you naked in the darkness
***
How long. The mud-stream washes away the grit and the absoluteness of nothing-thought, pieces of lights and color, sensations too vivid to be arbitrary. You are remembering who you are and who you were and none of it makes sense. Trundling beetles and curious spiders and crickets hop and study and hop, and birds cry out (widgee-widgee-widgee, three short bursts of artillery fire), and you lay there observing everything, everything out of context. Bits of radio music and soft singing voices and droning bees pass by unaware, scraps of scripture and huckstering and idle conversation flow down sticky drainage pipes, and you can’t hold onto any of it, it’s as elusive as the cycles of wind, as untouchable as darkness, needing to pry onto something, something to give it all substance and meaning.
Two. Three. Five. Seven. Eleven. Thirteen. Seventeen. Nineteen. Prime numbers. You used to know the first thousand primes, but they were all illusions of significance. And/but they helped you heal. The scream of a doe as a coyote bares its teeth; the rasping papery sound of unfolding insect wings; a vagrant wind tossing pine needles and gray plastic bags with the same indifferent breath. These are real things, things of significance. But there’s comfort in those prime numbers, a logic that propels your mind forward, a self-sustaining sanity in spite of the pain.

OrdinaryHandsomeII

Excerpt from Ordinary Handsome. Available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZPA0

Free downloadable Kindle app also available.

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Author: Steven Baird

Writer, amateur photographer, ad compositor and chicken herder.

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