My mind was closing around a perfect idea, like an elevator enclosing me with a beautiful young woman. But then I lost it—nothing but bad luck. Bad luck: it’s bad luck to eat with shoes on; it’s bad luck to sleep next to a computer; it’s bad luck to use a paperclip for anything but its intended purpose. For whatever reason, the idea was gone. I went back to reading A Tale of Two CatDogs: dog by day and cat by night, always awaiting that moment of transformation, where service, obedience, and safety by day slip the leash to become freedom, defiance, and danger by night; and then back again from adventure to the comforts of home. I started to doze off. I pictured winged men and women on bicycles, flying past attic windows and tree-houses. I pictured a moment where they lift off their saddles to let the bikes fall like snowflakes: bikes crashing through windshields, making snowflakes of cracked glass; bikes tackling commuters like spiders from the sky, all while the winged ones ascend, bumping through airborne fields of egg-like chrysalises, hanging like punching bags the color of the moon (some jostled too many times, snap off their webs to fall, burning up in their slow drift through the glittering atmosphere, like cotton and feathers in dull blue flames). As they fly their way through the swinging, bulging bags, the winged ones take a beating too. Some, entwined in the silky dew, can’t fly on and become, like water for epiphytes, food for the cocoons. But the ones who do, going higher than the sparkling, reach outer space, so high until the cave-like mouth of the universe is before them. They can only enter single file its profound darkness, head to toe, like a long worm with wings instead of legs. It rises through the soil of darkness, tilling and composting the soil of darkness, the soil of another sphere far beyond, and then I remembered:
The tale of Jonah is a tale of the underworld. Each whale is a mobile underworld, like Hades was split up piecemeal, like Hades exists in the sidewinding pelagic shadows, circulating pole to pole.
It wasn’t as good as I remembered, lost something in the translation, I think, but there it is. I saw a shooting star out the window, and made a quick wish in that connection, but it turned out to be a firework. And it’s bad luck to wish on a firework.
Eric Gelsinger is part of the old House Press in Buffalo, NY. His work can be found in Fence, LUNGFULL!, Ecopoetics, and Flim Forum. During the last seven years he has worked for the United Nations, and as an Equity Trader for D. E. Shaw. His interests include the economy of literature, Latin American poetry and prose, and comedy. He lives in Brooklyn.