Rooftops of Berzandia

25 Sep

As the earth separated from sky, showing shapes like dreams retained in the mind, a radio would erupt, muttering in some alley as the buzzbikes began to drone, to sizzle, bleating like sheep on the wing while dog packs giggled and yelped, and the Gothic sky resounded with a pink holler, and pairs of dragon flies careened and hooved over roof puddles. Trailing ropes like uncut umbilical cords, they would traverse roofridges and stalk valleys and straddle gutters. By the time the faces of buildings were glare-painted and back-beaming, and the sun, sputtering lasers, wobbled loose from the corner of some building in which couples groaned in lovemaking, the workaday was old.

They were a platoon, taking roofs like territory, cursing over bent nails, shouting for shingles, announcing dimensions to the sawman, toothless Orville of the ruined lungs and goat-like lust who narrated prophetically and constantly of sexual exploit and aspiration. The hunger was collective. In lonely childhoods, in early prison sentences, in extended sea voyages it wore deep as caves in hillsides. And though each tale of love and philandering reached the denouement of now, desire survived like lust for gold, never to be sated, not by ordinary women, perhaps by Zipango courtesans who apply perfume in five places and master three instruments and train in desire and devotion like acrobats, like yogis.

The inner life of the roofman was a salvage project performed in the dark. A kind of balancing act where one grips the edge of everything with the balls of the feet and keeps one’s eye on the nail and the hammer but never the abyss. Occasionally, heat and desire claimed one. Rodeo, still loaded, stepped through an opening and fell floor after floor to the place where his bones shattered and blood pooled. They shook their heads in disgust. They spoke of his death as “at least” a rest from the brute and unending task of life. Hard to know whether such men can love. To delight, however ecstatically, in woman is not to love. Yet to place one’s life in one’s mate’s hands, knowing that weakness is death, is to be overcome by a kind of fraternal ardor.

During the hottest part of the day, they trailed outside the construction fence and found the deepest pools of shade and ate pickled and boiled eggs. Along the street towered a new billboard: the actress X in blue panties with her link-entangled fingers above her head, and the music that emanated from her pink, diamond-studded heart was the music of Berzandia of the atavistic beats and spinning lights, not the steep, blazing Berzandia of roofs.

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