Monday, March 23, 2009

We see these things only in flashes, glimpsed like telephone poles from the window of a speeding car, adjusting our poker faces to suit the landscape just passed. Moving like a mantis shrimp, which is neither mantis nor shrimp but which can still punch like a bullet. Staying totally still and yet somehow managing to lose the hand anyway, having given away our cards with the whirring of our brains.

But the thing about the mantis shrimp is that its eyes are too complex for our brains, so evolved that they can almost see forward through time, and maybe this is why they stick together for 20 years or so while we manage only the most fleeting of dalliances, the moments between the closest-set of telephone poles. Maybe these failings are between our vitreous humor and our brains, instead of any of the other places we looked.

Last year we drove down roads and talked about that photographer who took pictures of cans of unclaimed remains from Oregon mental hospital patients, cans that had corroded beautifully, in cascades of blue and green and silver, as though the better parts of the madness trapped inside had finally leaked through all of the dimness and the grey. I suppose we should have realized, surrounded by all of those trees, that we were building an afternoon that we would carry around for ages, waiting to see what colors it would turn once everything inside had burned.

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