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Deep Down

"I have said, and intend to say, nothing of the hideous
business of the Six Snowmen, and the unspeakable end
which threatened Ursula Trelawney." —Cay Van Ash

Okay, let's count 'em up. There's 1)
a small-time pimp with big-ass dreams;
2) an undercover op [as opposed to the undercover cop
he sometimes sleeps with]; 3) the newbie dancer
at Titters; 4) the nurse in the refugee camp,
in a never-ending pinwheel of sweat flies; 5)
the undercover cop; 6) the top-floor CEO of the very
important multinational petro-corporation that...
what does it do, exactly, and does even the embedded
exposé reporter have an inkling?; 7)
the single mother with her two jobs, one of which
I can't reveal; 8) the exposé reporter. But
I see now that my numbered list misled you
into believing there are eight people. No,
there are four; but each is two of the list, and some
are even more than that, although we'll never know just
who and which, no more than the one-sixteenth-of-an-inch
of a knife-tip broken off in the body of one of these people
—carried (dull and inert and inoperable, a bad dream
with a mineral weight) in a deep-down muscle—
will ever lead back to the knife itself, or the forge
of its birth, or the story of the attack, which is,
by now, not even a hinted-at glint on the bottom
of a lake of changing seasons, screening weeds, and too much
intervening time. No more than anybody's—yours too—
2.5% Neanderthal genome is going to declare a visible,
you-could-point-your-finger-at-it presence: but it's there,
deep down, in the species bud. The National Security Agency
(Fort Meade, Maryland: shhh) "each year
obliviates one hundred million supersecret documents"
[I think I'll repeat that figure: One Hundred Million a year]
—these papers are driven at sixty m.p.h.
through turbine "suck pipes," are converted by a hydro-pulper
to "grayish slurry," and then are sold for their reconversion
as pizza boxes, egg cartons, grocery bags: the tales
that may have toppled governments (or rescued them) are blotting
lipstick, swiping clean a dipstick, are as unknown
an unknown as the year in a cult for one of the eight
(who are four). And I'll tell you one has jail tatts, but
inked where only one of the other four will ever see them
and excite them with the drag of a hungry tongue. As for that year
in the cult: one night, a dozen couples in an octopussish
orgiastic writhing in the "Meditation Pool"; another
night, the damp "Interrogation Cellar," there
without food or a light, although the rats saw perfectly well.
How could that astonishing history ever be erased! And
yet, it's erased. The eight (who are four) are here
at a party; its raucous surface is dizzily busy
enough without the past. "Hey everybody, look!"—the trick
with the shot glass and the egg. The standard acoustic
wrestling: country, rap, in alternating strangleholds.
Some arguing. Some flirting, maybe serious, maybe
just to stay in shape. Hot Slicez delivers: pepperoni.
The paper towels below the greasy heap of onion rings.
The pizza box, that once was the story of Ursula
Trelawney, six imposing "snowmen," and... other things.

Albert Goldbarth

The World of Multicongruencies We Tend to Inhabit Increasingly
New Michigan Press

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