By Larry Duncan
Yes, Virginia, one can imagine such a world,
but not for very long.The housekeepers are constantly tidying up,
constantly driving the dust from the shelves,
constantly clearing the letters and clothing
from where they fall, tugging loose sheets
taut across the bed. While outside the walls,
their happy husbands—the gardeners—
work feverishly, trimming back the hedges
that grow wild, framing in the lawn,
plucking the weeds from the garden.
See there, that limb that nearly obstructs
the smooth parallel order of electrical lines,
it must come downand there, that fragile blade of grass
that dares to break the gummy bonds of asphalt,
it must be pulled.Its roots torn from the earth before others take hold.
In this world, Virginia, the Table of Precedency holds sway forever.
But what does this world knows nothing of forever.
Forever is our world, Virginia. Time is theirs.At least the handsturning ever to the rightlinking each arbitrary markalong the circleto the center.
But, I’ll tell you a secret Virginia,
outside the hands
time is on our side.Real time.Geologic time.Cosmic time.
The gleam of stars long ago turned to dust,
reforming once again into bodies of light.
We can see, sweet Virginia, we can see…
…that perhaps, while tidying a particularly disordered desk,
the housekeeper pauses over a letter
left unread on a pile of unopened bills,
and upon reading the letter
lays down her broom and dust pan for good.…or that the gardener, while tending the roses,
pulls free a wild flower from the thorns,
and carefully transplanting it to a pot,
takes it home to his wife,
where she places it on the bed stand
and on the floor, beneath its petals,
they make love for the first time in years,
consumed by something both desperate and ecstatic.
But enough conjecture.
Get up, Virginia.Take the stones from your dress.Get up and walk across the room.Don’t take his word for it.Get up and run your hand along farthest wall.See for yourself
perhaps it is not a snail after all.
Previously appeared on Dead Snakes and Crossroads of Stars and White Lightning.