A Refutation

Benjamin Paloff

In the mechanical stillness of the Midwestern prespring afternoon, air that is not yet a breeze shifts uneasily in its chair, it rattles what used to be what was left of last year’s leaves but, out of loyalty to home, has become something else, a summons to provide another affidavit on the textures a day like this might have consisted of to some, as if the truth of saying how the ambiance was as dry as paper might mitigate the irrelevance of seeing things as silhouettes of other things. The pockmarked ground, from which no light escapes, is everywhere covered in wet straw, the anticipatory limbs festooned in abandoned nests. Whenever I’m back here I find myself checking the tide charts to no other avail than touching base with another, equally valid rhythm that, in my total absence, remains unnamed, or at least without a name that is known to me. The nuthatches are suddenly part of the same everywhere, too, if somewhat under the radar. One thing I know for sure: they don’t miss seeing the dentist as much as I do. It feels good to be clean, but it will be some time yet before I’m comfortable lying back in a chair with my mouth open to the world. For now, I am content with whatever the sun thinks it can afford, as the dog is scratching himself, his own absence stilled only by readiness to defend this plot from those who may not even have realized they were plotting to take it from us. He is mistaken, but we are often mistaken when it comes to what we think is ours. A hole, after all, is nothing surrounded by everything. A black hole is the exact opposite.


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