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A Bed of Roses


He had come to the conclusion that each of us knows everything, for destiny is our familiar, she permeates our breath. Hers is the atmosphere whereon a babe pillows his head. Signs wave their arms as we pass over. Lovers avert their eyes until the quivering recognition becomes unbearable, and they part. Each holding a piece of future fitting together like a dime-store heart.
       He was destined to be ill, and part of him knew it. But he did not wish to address it, not now. So he fled into the bowels of tedium disguised as adventure—a liner in the center of the sea; into a mind untapped—pure and roomy. Here time stretched like a superhero of elastic clay. Here destiny could be courted and swept off her feet. Such a prospect filled him with tremendous resolve and he grasped the signs, molding and remolding them.
       He leaned against the rail, euphoric, drumming scores of tiny thorns into the sea. And there he surrendered—a youth spread-eagle upon a bed of roses. A burning held like a claw within his swelling belly, which he slit with his own hand—too numb to feel, too ecstatic to speak.


Patti Smith

The Coral Sea
W. W. Norton


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