POINT-BLANK UP AHEAD was the Atlantic Ocean, but at this time it was lackluster from where we stood—still too big and navy, but not glossy.
“I won’t swim,” I said.
My friend said, “What did you say?” He was bound then to shout, “Louder!”
A mother leaned down to ask her little boy, “What does a cow say, Zachariah? Moo?”
“I don’t feel well,” I said.
But I was encouraged by my friend to calm down.
What was that bird? There was something melodic coming out of it.
I wished we could have been swept right along, because heaped-up human activities close by were packed too thickly in a small greasy place.
Were we simply roaming forward toward a northern region, distant from our own?
I actually liked the ride to the other end of town, although on the bus I was nauseated.
We had lunch in a café with small-paned windows. The decoration inside I thought was intended to inspire fervor for food plus awe.
Where did I end up? Not yet anywhere near intellect.
I AM TRYING to think if there’s any reason for having fun anymore on any level? I know that that’s not the kind of thing people usually talk about. God forbid—so I scale the roof all the way to the ridge and I have never had to climb down.
It’s So Effortful
CLAUS’S WHOLE HAND, face-down, slid under my bottom during the taxicab ride.
“Shall I come over tonight?” he asked me.
That man has such an extraordinary ability to get close to ordinary life. I’ve tried.
He was in a chair at my kitchen table and I climbed in behind him onto the chair, my arms around his front, not for long.
He told me, in the bedroom, to lie down on the floor on my back and he got on top and hooked his feet around my ankles. That didn’t last.
So when I wait for the right moment and then I hop on top of Claus, my legs are spread and bent like a frog’s.
If only I could climb Claus like a tree. I’ve seen movies of young boys climbing palm trees. They embrace the trunk, and then they march right up, or is it that they shimmy? That’s just about it. They lean in instead of dangling.
Can you imagine all of the juice the palm tree has to transport all the way to its palm fronds way up there—so that the tree is pulling liquid from the earth in a major way and the shaft itself is so spindly?
And yet my entire nature and all my instincts fail to clasp Claus for even one quiver—before I have to come right back down from there.
Diane Williams is the author of nine books of fiction, most recently The Collected Stories of Diane Williams (Soho). She is founder and editor of the literary annual Noon.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.