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Книга Dhalgren. Содержание - II: The Ruins of Morning

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A breath drained, roaring, between tight teeth. He took another.

As he wandered blurred block after blurred block, he heard the dog again, this time a howl, that twisted, rose, wavered, and ceased.

II: The Ruins of Morning

Here I am and am no I. This circle in all, this change changing in winterless, a dawn circle with an image of, an autumn change with a change of mist. Mistake two pictures, one and another. No. Only in seasons of short-light, only on dead afternoons. I will not be sick again. I will not. You are here.

He retreated down the halls of memory, seething.

Found, with final and banal comfort — Mother?

Remembered the first time he realized she was two inches taller than his father, and that some people thought it unusual. Hair braided, Mother was tolerant severity, was easier to play with than his father, was trips to Albany, was laughter (was dead?) when they went for walks through the park, was dark as old wood. More often, she was admonitions not to wander away in the city, not to wander away in the trees.

Father? A short man, yes; mostly in uniform; well, not that short — back in the force again; away a lot. Where was dad now? In one of three cities, in one of two states. Dad was silences, Dad was noises, Dad was absences that ended in presents.

"Come on, we'll play with you later. Now leave us alone, will you?"

Mom and Dad were words, lollying and jockeying in the small, sunny yard. He listened and did not listen. Mother and Father, they were a rhythm.

He began to sing, "Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn…" that had something of the fall of words around.

"Now what are you going on like that for?"

"Ain't seen your mom in two weeks. Be a good boy and take it somewhere else?"

So without stopping he took his Annnnnnnnnnnn down the path beside the house where hedge-leaves slapped his lips and tickled them so that he took a breath and his sound snagged on laughter.

ROAR and ROAR, ROAR: he looked up. The planes made ribs across the sky. The silver beads snagged sun. The window wall of his house blinded him so— "Annnnnnnnnn…" — he made his noise and gave it the sound of the planes all up and down the street, walking and jogging with it, in his sneakers, and went down the steps at the side of the street, crossed over. His sound buzzed all the mask of his face. Shadows slid over him: he changed sound. Shadows slid away: he changed it back. The sun heated the bony spots above his eyes; that changed it again; and again, when the birds (he had wandered into the woods that lapped like a great tongue five blocks into town; soon he had been in them for a quarter of an hour) collided in the leaves, then flung notes down. One note was near enough; he caught it with his voice and it thrust him toward another. Sun and chill (spring had just started) cuffed and pummeled him and he sang, getting pine needles inside his canvas shoes (no socks) and the back of his neck tickling from hair when the wind came.

He climbed the rocks: his breath made windy pauses in the sound and that was interesting, so that when he reached the top he pushed the leaves away and made each note as low as the green whisper—

Three of the five were naked.

Which stopped him.

And one girl was wearing only a little cross around her neck. The silver tilted on the inner slope of one breast. She breathed.

He blinked and whispered another note.

Silver broke up the sun.

The man still in pants pushed one fist up into the foliage (pants undone, his belt lay free of half its loops, away from his hip), pushed his other hand down to scratch, twisting his hips so that more and more, stretching in the green—

The girl who was darker even than his mother rolled to her side: someone else's yellow hair fell from her back and spread. And her hands on the man's face were suddenly hidden by his hands on hers (in the pile of clothing he recognized another uniform, but blue-black where his father's was green) and she was moving against him now, and there was a grass blade against her calf that slipped first one way, then the other.

He held his breath, forgot he was holding it: then it all came out in a surprising at-once that was practically not a note at all. So he got more air back in his lungs and began another.

"Hey, look!" from the other naked one, on elbows and laughing: "We got company!" and pointing.

So his sound, begun between song and sigh, ended in laughter; he ran back through the brush, pulling a music from their laughing till his was song again. He cantered down the path.

Some boys came up the path (this part of the wood was traveled as any park), thumbs in their jeans, hair all points and lines and slicks. Two of them were arguing (also, he saw as they neared, one of the boys was a girl), and one with carroty hair and small eyes glared at him.

He hunched, intently, and didn't look back at them, even though he wanted to. They were bad kids, he decided. Dad had told him to stay away from bad kids.

Suddenly he turned and sang after them, trying to make the music stealthy and angular till it became laughter again. He had reached the playground that separated the woods from town.

He mixed his music with the shouting from the other side of the fence. He rippled his fingers on the wire and walked and looked through: children clustered at the sliding board. But their scuffle had turned to shouts.

Beyond that were street sounds. He walked out among them and let his song pick them up. Cars, and two women talking about money, and something bang-banging in the big building with the corrugated walls: emerging from that, foot-rhythms. (Men in construction-helmets glanced at him.) That made him sing louder.

He walked up a hill where the houses got bigger, with lots of rock between. Finally (he had been flipping his fingers along the iron bars of the gate) he stopped to really look in (now going Hummmm, and hmmmmm, hmmmm, and hmmmmm) at the grass marked with tile squares, and a house that was very big and mostly glass and brick. A woman sat between two oaks. She saw him, cocked her head curiously, smiled — so he sang for her Ahhhhhhhhh — she frowned. He ran down the street, down the hill, singing.

The houses weren't so big any more.

The ribs of day cracked on the sky. But he didn't look up at the planes this time. And there were lots more people.

Windows: and on top of the windows, signs: and on top of the signs, things that turned in the wind: and on top of those, blue where wind you couldn't see went—

"Hey, watch it—"

He staggered back from a man with the dirtiest wrists he had ever seen. The man repeated: "Watch where you're God-damn going—" to nobody, and lurched away. He drew his song in till it bubbled around his mouth. He was going to turn and run down the next street…

The brick were cracked. A plank had come away from the window.

Trash heaped beside the door.

No wind, and warm; the street was loud with voices and machinery, so loud he could hardly catch rhythm for his song.

His sounds — long and lolling over his tongue now — were low, and he heard them under, not over, the noise.

"Hey, look out—"

"What the—"

"Hey, did you see that—"

He hadn't.

"What are you—"

People turned. Somebody ran past him close, slapping black moccasins on the stone.

"Those bastards from the reservation!"

"That's one of their kids, too."

He wasn't; and neither was his mother — she was from…? Anyway, he tried to sing that too, but was worried now. He turned the corner into an alley crowded with warm-weather loungers.

Two women, bony and delighted, stood in the doorway:

One: "Did you see that?"

The other laughed out loud.

He smiled; that changed his sound again.

From the next doorway, fat and ragged, face dirty as the drunkard's wrists, she carried a cloth bag in one fist, with the other beat at the trash. She turned, lumbering in the heap, blinked at him.

His music stuttered, but took it in. He hurried onto the avenue, dodged around seven nuns, started to run, but turned to watch them.

They walked slowly and talked quickly, with sharp small voices. Falls of white broke at breast and knee; black scuffed toes wrinkled white hems.

People stepped around them.

"Good morning, sisters."

Sisters nodded and smiled, probably because it was afternoon. They walked straight, brushing and brushing.

He tried to fit the rhythm of their walk into his music. He glanced around the street, hurried on, making his sounds longer and longer; hurried till he was running and each note took half a block.

Ran around another corner.

And all his breath came hissing between his teeth.

The man's palm lifted, his finger tips stayed down to draw wet lines on the pavement, before he rolled over to show most of the wound. The one standing swayed and sweated. When the woman at the other corner began to call out, "Ohma'god! Ohma'god, he-e-elp!" the standing man ran.

He watched him run, and screamed, a little, twice.

The man on the street was grunting.

Someone running joggled him and he stepped back, with another sound; then he ran too and what had begun as music was now a wail. He ran until he had to walk. He walked until he had to stop singing. Then he ran again: Throat raw, he wailed again.

Once he passed a clutch of unshaven men; one pointed at him, but another put a bottle in the hand shucked with purple.

He ran.

He cried.

He cut across the corner of the woods. He ran some more.

He ran on the wide street under a ribbon of evening. Lights came on like twin necklaces suddenly unrolled down the avenue, traffic and tail beacons between. He shrieked. And fled from the street because people were looking.

This street was more familiar. Noise hurt his throat. Sharp lights in his eyes; hedges marred with darkness. And he was roaring now—

"For God's sake—!"

He came up hard against her hands! Mother, and he tried to hug her, but she was holding him back.

"Where have you been? What is the matter with you, shouting around in the street like that?"

His mouth snapped. Sound to deafen built behind his teeth.

"We've been looking for you nearly half the day!"

None of it escaped. He was panting. She took his arm and led him.

"Your father—" who was turning the corner now— "comes home the first time in two weeks, and you decide to go running off!"

"There he is! Where did you find him!" and his father laughed and that at least was some sound. But not his.

They received him with scolding affection. But more vivid was the scalding energy he could not release. Wanting to cry, he had been silent, chewed on his knuckles, the heels of his palms, his cuticles, and what was left of his nails.

These memories intact solved little as those riddled with gaps. Still, he raised from them, reassured.

He hunted over them for his name. Once, perhaps, his mother calling, from across a street…


And memory was discarded:

How can I say that that is my prize possession? (They do not fade, neither those buildings or these.) Rather what we know as real is burned away at invisible heat. What we are concerned with is more insubstantial. I do not know. It is as simple as that. For the hundredth time, I do not know and cannot remember. I do not want to be sick again. I do not want to be sick.

This lithic grin…?

Not on the lions he'd walked between last night with Tak.

Vaguely he thought he'd been wandering toward the river. But somehow chance, or bodily memory, had returned him to the park.

Inside the entrance was ashy grass; dimmed trees forested the crest.

He turned his forefinger in his nostril, put it in his mouth for the salt, then laughed and pressed his palm on the stone jaw; moved his hand. Stain passed between his fingers. The sky — he'd laughed, flung up his head — did not look infinitely far; a soft ceiling, rather, at some deceptive twenty, a hundred twenty feet. Oh, yes, laughter was good. His eyes filled with the blurry sky and tears; he moved his hand on the pitted jaw. When he took his palm from the dense braille, he was breathing hard.

No gushing breeze over this grass. His breath was thin, hoarse, suggestive of phlegm and obstacles and veins. Still, he'd laughed.

The sculptor had dug holes for eyes too deep to spot bottom.

He dug his finger in his nose again, sucked it, gnawed it; a gusty chuckle, and he turned through the leonine gate. It's easy, he thought, to put sounds with either white (maybe the pure tone of an audio generator; and the other, its opposite, that was called white noise), black (large gongs, larger bells), or the primary colors (the variety of the orchestra). Pale grey is silence.

A good wind could wake this city. As he wandered in, buildings dropped behind him below the park wall. (He wondered what ill one had put it to sleep.) The trees waited.

This park stretches on wracks of silence.

In his mind were some dozen visions of the city. He jogged, jaggedly, among them. His body felt hip heavy. His tongue lay down like a worm in his mouth. Breath in the cavity imitated wind; he listened to the air in his nose since that was all there was to listen to.

In its cage, his fist wilted, loose as a heavy flower.

Mornings after sex usually gave him that I've-been-eating-the-lotus-again, that Oh-all-soft-and-drifty, that hang-over-inside-out where pain is all in the world and the body tingly and good. Delayed? But here it was. The commune? Debating whether to hunt them or avoid them, he found the water fountain.

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