Friday, June 16, 2006

A stretch of river XIII: Cottonwoods in bloom(sday)

(with apologies to James Joyce on his day)

Nervous, thin Scruffy Meridian descended the stairwell, wearing his monkeyemblazoned collar to which a leash was attached. His sleepy-eyed human held the leash's other end and drifted behind him like an ungirdled dressinggown sustained gently on the mild morning air. Scruffy thrust his nose into the air and thought:

--Cave canem.

Spasmodically he lunged forward and stood on the sidewalk. He looked back at Blog Meridian, then peed gravely thrice on the downstairs neighbor's potted plants, the privacy fence, and a small cottonwood sapling. Then he and Mr. Meridian mounted the small berm on the summit of which was the paved trail they walked on twice daily and began their counterclockwise walk round their stretch of river.

In his mind, Scruffy Meridian addressed his human:

--The mockery of it! Your absurd name, a word that didn't exist 5 years ago combined with ancient Romans sun-worshipping. And a bad pun on that McCarthy novel you're always going on about.

His tongue lolled out his mouth in a friendly way and he went to sniff a damplooking tuft of grass near the trail. Mr. Meridian followed him wearily and stood waiting for him to finish sniffing.

Scruffy Meridian's gay thoughts tried to keep up with his body, panting.

--My name is absurd too: Scruffy Meridian, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn't it? Tripping and sunny like dogs chasing rabbits. We must go to the park. Can we go? Huh? Can we can we?

As if reading his thoughts, Mr. Meridian sighed resignedly.

--We're going, we're going. Calm down.


As they walked the sundappled path, Mr. Meridian noted the cottonwood blossoms drifting in the air and how they seemed especially heavy this year. You'd think it was flurries. June, not January. But look where they've collected like snowdrifts. Like sixty-foot-tall dandilions, they are. Erect fathers? mothers? of thousands. How many seeds, how many. So many will never know soil, never spawn? Beseed? Flower? Never took botany. Be fecund? Eh--good enough for a blog post.

They reached the Murdoch Street bridge that crosses over the River Little Arkansas. That canaryyellow Focus that always passed by at this time and with whose driver Mr. Meridian always exchanged smiles and waves passed by at this time, and Mr. Meridian and the driver exchanged smiles and waves. The breeze was freshening, the air still cool with just a hint of dampness from the jadegreen water that reminded Mr. Meridian of that little passage in Ulysses where that Mulligan guy gasses on about the scrotumtightening snotgreen sea as a great sweet mother.

When they came even with the far bank of the river, Mr. Meridian looked down its length along the exposed mud and shallows.

A white heron stood before him in the shallows, alone and still, gazing into the water with one eye, looking for minnows. It seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful girl. Its literally skin-and-bone legs disappeared abruptly into its white body like a woman with really knobby knees who had boldly kilted up her skirts about her waist. Its breast was like a woman's bosom, warm and full, full and warm . . .

--Damn, Mr. Meridian thought. Wrong novel. Always did like that figures in distant pools line, though.

Scruffy and Mr. Meridian had by this time left the bridge and were walking through Riverside Park, their route parallelling can a curving path be said to parallel a curving river? Parallel lines never meet. These curves are concentric don't meet either. Curves aren't lines because not in the same plane. Right? No matter. My thoughts will now curve happily toward the curvy Mrs. Meridian who by this time is no doubt stirring about in the apartment drinking the coffee I poured for her before beginning my walk and eagerly awaiting my return from my 20-minute not 20-year walk.Will she read Ulysses? She (and Marilyn Monroe) the last page or so and here and there. Everyone reads that last page or so. She says she should, really should yes she really should, the whole thing. Says that about Moby-Dick, too. Fickle literary loyalties. Mustn't think on that. Something else. All that sugar . . . how can she? Like mine black, occasionally milk, sugar, a little cinnamon. Learned that in Mexico. Long ago, far away. But that coffee brings it back like madeleines. Tortillas. Diesel fumes, too.

Scruffy and Mr. Meridian approached the Nims Street bridge. Even as Mr. Meridian was thinking all these things he had just thought, he took at the same time an informal census of the waterfowl, always most plentiful at sunrise. Herons, egrets, both white. Do egrets have regrets? Canada geese who've never been to Canada. But kind of like the music. Mallards, lots and lots. How many broods hatched this spring summer? 4? 5? Lost count. Some already now as big as their mothers. Even saw the woodduck's brood first time yesterday. Why so shy, mallards almost as assertive as geese? Look it up sometime.

Scruffy and Mr. Meridian crossed the bridge, reached a patch of green that Mr. Meridian gaily referred to as the Pooping Fields because of the task that Scruffy more often than not performed there twice daily, and then turned toward home. He smiled. He thought about Ulysses some more, how it had taken Joyce 7 years to write a book about a single day, Thursday, June 16, 1904 . . . the very day he met and fell in love with long-suffering yet circumspect Nora. Love. Word known to all men. Takes just about a day to read the thing straight through. Quicker to think than to read. Labor of love to read it, too. One never reads Ulysses only rereads. Someone said that.

They arrived at their building. Scruffy bound up the stairs, Mr. Meridian hurrying to keep up and fishing for his housekey in the deep commodious pocket of his walking shorts at the same time. Sure glad I didn't forget it like Bloom did his. No climbing into these windows. Keep out Error of every sort. He struggled a bit to unlock the door because Scruffy was jumping up and down in front of it, his head bumping Mr. Meridian's hand, but unlock it he finally did and he turned the knob to let them in and bent down to remove the leash from Scruffy's collar.

Scruffy eagerly gazed at Mr. Meridian who was now standing in the kitchen in close proximity to the liver treats. And then I asked him with my eyes for a Bil-Jac asked him again yes and then he asked me would I bring him my Kong yes to say yes my Scruffilupagus and then he knelt down to hug me and I licked his face and made him smell me all doggy-perfumey yes and he was wiping his face like mad and yes I said yes I will get my Kong Yes.

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6 comments:

emawkc said...

On a slightly related note, all may not be well in Dublin this Blomsday:
Mad Lit Professor Puts Finishing Touches On Bloomsday Device

R. Sherman said...

Good stuff.

John B. said...

Thanks to the both of you for stopping by. I don't claim it's any good, but at least I had a good time writing it.

Ariel said...

Even as Mr. Meridian was thinking all these things he had just thought...

I think you do stream of consciousness quite well. This piece had more lit content than your "prototypical" Stretch of River post. Keep 'em coming.

Winston said...

Great story and well told. Develop more stories from the dog's perspective. Of course, don't let on to Scruffy that he is a dog -- shhhh... Interesting how our canine masters (yeah, we belong to them) understand sounds, and therefore some words, but they have no idea of punctuation...

Raminagrobis said...

That was most enjoyable. Pastiching Ulysses is no easy task! A sort of 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog'...?

Or else Paul Auster's Timbuktu, which is I suppose much the same thing, but filtered through Beckett rather than Joyce.