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The lake in early winter

December 2, 2010
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The duck travels along the surface of the water.  We travel on an asphalt path and its gravel apron, avoiding runners and dogs and strollers.  Today is sunny:  the young women are out in numbers, silently.  I walked with a friend, eating hamburgers and coffee, discussing the humiliations of aging suffered by our grandparents and soon, perhaps, to be delivered to our parents.  His mother, he said, claimed that she would kill herself if she ever got to the point where she could no longer talk straight or had to wear a helmet just to stand up.  I thought this was the kind of thing that people say as a way of trying to change the past.  It was not an intention, but a wish, a guilty wish, on her own mother’s behalf.  At any rate, I was wondering about something else.  I had an idea that I had long held in reserve and I was looking for some of way of turning it, like the soil, hoping that some fresh indication of fertility would rise.  I thought, basically, that food was my young generation’s new drug of choice.  The local, the organic, the ethnic, the gluten-free, the artisanal: it was all new form of fashion for a demanding, gluttonous people.  It was all bullshit.  We had been raised in the 1980s on cheap corn and protein.  That surplus of induced appetite still existed, exercised now on other things as it got older, with a bad conscience and some cash.  I didn’t know what to make of this but I thought that it had to be connected somehow.  I didn’t want to be someone who made a big deal out of his pleasures and used them as a substitute for something else.  I didn’t want to be humiliated by them when I no longer had the will or the logic to perform whatever act of transubstantiation other people were pulling.  My friend said that right before his grandfather died angry he was drunk all the time.  He vomited and every time he did it was deep blue.  I laughed at this.  I imagined a future where the old passed different colors as their insides went to mush.  Not just any colors but bright, childlike, electric colors, constantly changing, more rapidly and more iridescent as the end neared.  We passed under some trees and found a girl crouched on her roller skates, looking out.  There was a motionless wood duck there and when it turned into the light, it flew away.


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