The jowls of a man of knowledge are weighed down by a hefty lifetime of facts. He is a man of damp bitterness and answers. The verge of too much thought can wear him down to his bed midday. But don’t expect him to lie still for more than twenty minutes. There is nothing illusive about his pursuits. Every day the papers fill their obligation to rise. His fingers keep a steady tempo of typing. A habit of licking the underside of his teeth keep time with the clicking.
Every once in a while he looks out his window. A bird sometimes sits on his tree limb. He feels something lift in his heart region. If a storm is lurking, he is cocooned inside and the edges of the pages are softer and his words become almost poetic. A tremendous peace envelops him when he has nowhere to go and no one to see. The words and sentences unroll themselves. The computer loves him. It whispers thoughts into his fingertips that trouble the page. And slowly images start to imprint themselves in his mind and once they have been deadlocked on the screen, they manifest into his archival jowls.
He cradles bodies inside there too. The holidays always bring on a holiday high and time with relatives. His great Aunt Peppy was dying in the backroom of his mother’s house for over a year. She was sick with discomfort and talked to anyone who would listen about making an end to it, if only. One night he put on the Dylan Thomas Christmas album and stirred some granules of arsenic and drops of morphine into her straw-full of liquid. She was so close to dying that the hospice nurse wrote ‘Failure to Thrive’ on the death certificate. That led him to her best friend, Berta, who was going blind and was almost deaf. Her family had just put her in a home. They didn’t live in the same city, so she had few visitors. When Peppy died, Berta was heartbroken. That crushed the man of knowledge. He read some of his stories to her and books, as well. The lonely were a fattening crowd. He saw them on the streets everywhere. They showed up in his work. Tears blathered down his cheeks when he was writing. He loved the sick and the dying. They spoke truths and he listened. Most of the world cranked itself up with noise. They demanded sing-a-longs and pig roasts and all kinds of barbaric meanderings.
His words lessened themselves. At some point, he could only read aphorisms. Anything longer and he found ragged hounding dialogue with two leeches, one trying to suck the other dry.
After Berta died, he volunteered for hospice. He was taking a class on herbs and what their attributes are and learned quickly. He found his community. He excluded the rest of the world each night when he locked his shutters.
But he let the feverish reality rule his computer. He thought of all the people who had died. And then an aphorism would arise from the cremations and memorials he’d attended.
“Humans are absurd. We live not for our daily bread, but for our schedules. Whenever we react to the suffering of the sum total of a life and toast it, we are astonished by the smoking dried crust of audacity that fogs our doom.”
Then the weight of all of the timid shrouds.