The Audit

They will show up at your door, and you will be expecting them. They will, of course, be on time. They will be wearing suits, black and flat, made of fine Italian silk. Their shirts are always white or cream, bright and starched, and their ties are serious and dark. They will stand in the doorway and smile and shake your hand, and make comments about how hot or cold or wet it has been of late. They will bring a present for your wife.

When you invite them in, they will stand awkwardly in your living room or den or foyer saying nothing until you ask them to sit. Then they will sit down on your couch and will accept the coffee that you offer them. They will make small talk with you, while your wife fills their cups, and then they will quickly drink it, no matter how hot it is, they will not let it cool, they will drink it down and then they will thank your wife and smile, baring straight white teeth.

They will have the records with them, printed on neatly folded paper in clean dark lines. You are free to have your own lawyers and accountants look at them if you wish, but no mistakes will be found. Others have paid more than you have ever owned looking for errors and have found none.

They will be patient with your questions, and will take whatever time is needed to satisfy you, but in the end, you will agree with them. You will hear yourself say, everything seems to be in order. You may think to ask if there is not a need for signatures and if you do, they will make a sound like laughter, high and tight in their noses. It is not a pleasant sound, but they will make it and they will say that no, there is no need for signatures today. That was taken care of years ago, are you quite sure that you don’t remember?

This is when you must be brave. The knock at the door will be the knifeman. He will be dressed in black as well, but his clothes are made of a coarser cloth. Under his arm he will carry a case, also black, and he will ask that you clear a place where he can unroll it. His knives are sharp and bright and there are so many of them. Do not worry about whether you will panic. You will not. You will stand still in your living room, your wife standing beside you, and you will ignore the scream that lodges in your throat, the voice of what can only be your soul as it tells you to fight, to turn and flee, to do anything but stand and watch this happen. You will ignore it. You have been trained well. You will stand still while your wife stands and watches, while the knifeman makes the incisions, while he flays the skin and drains the blood. You will not feel a thing is all that he will say to you and when you hear it, you will wonder, perhaps the very last thought you will ever have, have I ever?

 

 

On writing

Here’s a struggler for the muse,
looking for the rush of insight,
the thrust and turn of thought,
meme blades seeking out the real,
the true,
the blood to spill onto a page.

Here’s a wonderer,
sitting at a keyboard,
a sheaf of paper,
the edge of some class notebook,
fingers poised,
pencil raised,
ready for the flood to come.

Here’s a vandal,
sneaking through classics,
crawling through anthologies,
randomly reading the first lines of novels,
dragging his sponge across the page,
seeking unspent thoughts for his own.

Here’s a dreamer on the hillside,
watching clouds and stars and dancing shadows,
treating thoughts like seeds,
and words as leaves,
begging nature for its freshest breath.

Here’s a child,
rhyming madly, playing stories, making, laughing,
loving the sound of her voice,
the rhythm of nonsense,
the taste of surprise.

Here’s a writer…

On the stillbirth of my nephew

The broken child upon the bed,
The stains from where his mother bled,
The crown of tears wreathed round his head,
The ache and fear of faith misled;
On bended knee with arms outspread
With wordless cries my heart has said,
And wept the prayers this night has bred:
“O Lamb of God,” my son is dead.
“My God, that I had died instead.”

Night and day, grief and peace,
between each there is a moment that is neither one nor the other,
where both fit neatly on the same horizon,
or in the same heart.

The broken child lies on the bed,
The morning sky grows soft and red,
Bathed in the glow it’s softly shed,
I hold my son and stroke his head,
And think on words that David said.
This precious child – not broke, nor dead,
I’m promised that he sleeps instead,
Thus grief and joy are ever wed,
My grief and joy are ever wed.