This piece was originally published in 2015 as a part of “Science Fiction Love Stories” (available for download here.) It's a nice companion piece to Writings on writing (aberration of the knife).

Drop a length of string that has been knotted into a loop; can you predict the path that takes shape in its lay? Imagine a piece of thread pinched between your forefinger and thumb. Did you imagine it long and limp, grazing the soft, fatty haunch of your thumb? Did you imagine it short and spry, as if it sprouted from the red crevice your fingers formed?

You look downward and upward, downward and up. You nod your head like a neighing horse. And still, the fat, wet tear in the corner of your eye stays balanced like an egg. And as long as you keep your eye open, it will sit there trembling in the corner of your eye, a terrified, unwilling rookie boxer in the ring. Don't close your eyes. You ask yourself: Where on earth did that tear come from?

We already know the answer to every question that we ask ourselves. Just bear with me for a second. Believe it to be true. Every inward question is an answer I do not verbalize, out of muteness of spirit or the complacency of familiarity. Consider the antithetical: When I ask you a question, I am in wonderment of you. My eyes glitter like stars. “Where were you last night?” and “How does an engine work?” and “Does that taste good with tilapia?” and “Why does it have to end?” and other questions I ask out loud are in starry-eyed amazement of the mystery outside of myself, the collective knowledge of mothers and sisters and bachelors I have never known. I am at the top of a tower, sitting firmly in a chair slightly skewed towards a window, looking over a city of a hundred-thousand mothers. If I drop a length of string that has been knotted into a loop, and I overlaid that shape over this city, and took that path by boot or wheel, who would I meet? How thick is the string? How thick is the air? What affects the fall of a loop that transforms into the curled eight of infinity? We stay balanced on the precipice of something like fear. A teardrop of unknown source-spring stays precariously balanced by some magic of liquid tension between two slight eyelashes. We ask ourselves a question, “Why am I fearful?” and the lack of mystery in that inward question is the beginning of a flat feeling of fear itself.

Reality is a trough. The earth is a fat teardrop balanced on a sloping gridded edge and we roll with mysterious gravity toward some cosmic chicken feed. A year where the crops don't yield and we will find a few maggots when we sift through the feed with our fingertips. Or... Or the universe is a saddle. Hyperbolic curvature with a chafed ass topping it like a doily and a great, heaving, slick hot horse beneath. And whether from trough or saddle, when that large cosmic horse comes to grip you in its tongue, all you can ask yourself is, “Did I do ok?” But you already knew the answer to that.

#republished #essay