18 Fragments: In the Wake of Every Day
“It is life, yes?” Bernado the Wandering Argentinian ate his potatoes. I sat on bags of cement mix. “It is life.”
This is the third installment of the “18 Fragments” collection by Wes Kline and Damon Falke. If you haven't read the other two selections ("At Work" and "A Russian Poet"), you can find links to them at the end of the piece. Thank you for reading!
On a Monday morning the bus stopped, as a herd of reindeer scattered in front of it. I could not see the reindeer at first, but when we looked out of the window, we could see a reindeer running through the snow towards the sea. The reindeer…the snow…the sea… We can never live this again.
Before we finished work on a Friday afternoon, Bernado the Wandering Argentinian sat in a chair eating cold mashed potatoes. We sat together in the cellar of the building where we both work. The company had taken down the barracks where we normally took breaks and ate, but Bernado the Wandering Argentinian had not been told about this.
“My friend,” he said to me, “what is it with this cold?”
“It’s only cold,” I said, “The cold is not your enemy.”
“I understand, my friend. I understand. The cold is not my enemy.”
He set the Tupperware container of mashed potatoes beside his chair. He then hunched over and folded his hands together.
“I should be a gigolo.”
For a moment I thought he said he should be a gigolo again.
“But no. I am too old for that shit.”
“You still have time.”
He looked at me and said, “We could be gigolos together! We could start a show— Los Caballeros! You are from Texas, yes? You have a cowboy hat?”
“I have a cowboy hat.”
He shrugged and picked up his Tupperware and sat it down again.
“It is life, yes?”
“It is life.”
We were quiet afterwards. Bernado the Wandering Argentinian ate his potatoes, and I sat on bags of cement mix.
It was on a Saturday when the bowl of apples on the kitchen counter reminded me of a poem Laura Jackson sent two decades ago.
Applesauce making day; friend of a friend dies; write ways to celebrate
Still thinking of Laura that day, I read notes I had made while staying at her place four years ago:
The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision—Fritjof Capra, Pier Luigi Luisi
A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wild Flowers—John J. Craighead
St. Nadie in Winter: Zen Encounters with Loneliness—Terrance Keenan
Georgia O’Keefe: A Portrait—Alfred Stieglitz
The Art of Greek Cookery—The Women of St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church and Art Seiden
Second Space: New Poems—Czeslaw Milosz
But that glad word—home— Is known to no one now. We all look through foreign panes
At the end of every day, clothes are piled on the office floor. I can hardly go from the door to the desk without stumbling on something—knives, shears, a hardhat, and books, a calendar someone gave me only last year.
Read the previous “18 Fragments” installments from Damon Falke and Wes Kline:
Damon Falke is the author of, among other works, The Scent of a Thousand Rains, Now at the Uncertain Hour, By Way of Passing, and Koppmoll (film). He lives in northern Norway.
Wes Kline is an artist and faculty at New College of Florida, having taught previously at New Mexico State University, the University of Florida, and at St. Lawrence University. He earned his MFA in Studio Art from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 2005. His research and work looks at "minor" pivots in modernist narratives, focusing specifically on ecology, language and performance in proximity to architecture, philosophy and meta-modernism. He has shown his work nationally and internationally and teaches courses in photography and extended media, including video, installation and sound.
We hope you’re enjoying Juke. Subscribe for free to receive new posts by email. To receive special member-only posts and benefits, please consider supporting our writers with a monthly or yearly paid subscription.
I especially like to read Damon's writing before I'm to get my blood pressure checked. I pull off of I-35, roar up to the clinic, sit in my car and pull out a copy of By Way of Passing. After a few pages I could pass a lie-detector test, much less a BP reading. I hope more people take the time to read Damon's stuff. The life they save could be mine.
you once again bring me/draw me ever so gently into your world. and Wes's photography holds me there a bit longer. wonderful work you guys!