My own private apocalypse
My sister-in-law was here on the weekend and called them chrysanthemums but she did not explain why.
Later I eradicate the years between 1768 and 1968 so as to allow Goya and Primo Levi to converse. I eradicate France to simplify their union. The combined rubble of the eradicated two hundred years and France is scorched and dusty, like the remains of an earlier catastrophe, one I don’t personally have on record. I admit without remorse that there are accounts more meticulous, less partial, than my own.
I smash the plates, the ones that have not been washed and the ones that are drying. My guests have hardly left. I fill the toaster with forks and spoons and my great uncle’s watch-making pins. I kick the toaster repeatedly but the cable does not let go of the wall. The cutlery, the way it protrudes, leaves chips in the plaster, which I will have to repair before my mother drops by over the upcoming long weekend.
My sister-in-law’s new partner also referred to them as chrysanthemums. In any case, we are rid of them now.
I rid the local libraries of books first on geology and then in my greed I rid them of books on geography, geopolitics, geophysics and George Harrison.
I concentrate all past and present national borders on an area the size of Bulgaria, on Bulgaria. They can have every last pair of our binoculars too, I say, sounding like a screen-test in an open field, we’ve had enough of the trouble they cause.
I do not destroy the French language, I haven’t the time or presence of mind, so Goya and Primo Levi’s conversation is troubled by the background noise of two hundred years of talking and yelling and laughing and crying.
The children are home. We maintain a wordless peace. For three consecutive nights I’ve failed to provide them with the dinner they’ve requested: calamari, noodles and wild raspberries. They pick the berries themselves and despite my cautioning and instruction in taxonomy bring home a vast collection of berries, none of which are raspberries.
The youngest child has written Garag Salle on the crazed-stone driveway with a good-sized block of the remains of two hundred years and France. I must be more watchful. I have three children and, after correcting the spelling of his little sister, the eldest has run off to collect items to sell. He carries a pair of scissors, for those things that are less readily removed. He snips the cord of the toaster and throws it face down on the kitchen floor to dislodge the forks, spoons and watch-making pins. He will get a better price if he sells them separately. He has cut an eclipse from the living room curtain, following the circumference of his right arm.
It is summer, so he’s removed the oil heaters from beneath the stairs, handling them as though they are burning hot. Every second book he tears from the shelf and throws down from the upper story to the driveway, calling out their titles in his best French accent, where his sister arranges them in rows, initially by size and then by colour. When he has finished, he returns to the beginning to tear out every second remaining book. In this way, the bookshelf has acquired a half-life.
From above, Bulgaria is black with dividing lines. There are borders that can be crossed easily, without incident, though there are others, more numerous, one must be wary of. Others still are thought to exist only in rumour. The rest of us are coming to terms with our freedom of movement, cautioning ourselves, suggesting means of demarcation, check points, and so on.