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Rus Mental Contagion
Notes from open land
by Wendy Lewis

The Time During Which I Attune Myself to My Own Limitations

The phone rings interrupting epic, fragmented dreams. Dogs with full bladders and empty stomachs whine. I sleep in late. Dirty dishes pile up on the right side of the sink and emerge clean, lined up neatly on the left. Olives and cheese and crackers on a plate, possibly with apples. The sound of brown paper bags being folded. The phone rings. Dayendlessdays of flat, grey light. Mail arrives. Writing and writing but nothing gets written. I listen for voices. Birds come and go from the feeder. The days are not short enough. Give me the night. Corks slide easily from bottles. Candlelight is extinguished when bowing wicks drown in the heat of intention. Onions simmer in butter. Soiled cloth napkins are sent floating down the chute. The fireplace is the center of the universe and the woodpile is never enough. Mice scurry across the dingy linoleum out from under the shadow of cupboards. People come in the door, sit, talk and go out the door. We create characters as if we are gods but we can't control what they are doing. Packs of cigarettes open and burn away. There is talk of meaning and process while tired phrases are passed lovingly around a room. I am frustrated, tossing and turning within the drum of my own judgments and shortcomings. Fingers clickclickclick on a keyboard. We speak of poverty and political oppression and don't want to romanticize the community a lack of luxury affords as we sip our wine. Writing and writing but nothing gets written. I stare out the window and watch the yellow bus swallow children. The dogs send squirrels scrambling up tree trunks. I place stamps just so on the corners of envelopes. The phones rings. I make coffee. I fall asleep in the red chair.

The day before the moon is full, fresh snow falls. The luminous orb heaves itself up over the horizon's edge like Lowell's fat man crawling out of the bathtub. It will spend the next twelve hours turning slow, illuminating somersaults over my house.

After midnight, I draw away from the tungsten glow of spent oak logs and go outside. The yard is irradiated with hallucinatory-blue amorphous light, which glares lovingly on everything beneath its lidless stare. The bare oak, maple, lilac and scruffy buckthorn branches make desperate, harsh shadows on the white snow beneath their empty outstretched arms. Everything is exposed under this brazen if benevolent moonlight, and by the time I descend onto the wide-open prairie, I shrink into reverent confusion. I am even smaller than insignificance.

©2006 Mental Contagion • Making Space for Visual Artists & Writers