Creation was the act of strapping all the delights of taste and sound and texture into a tiny alabaster dish, and fastening it so tightly that it would forever try to expand like new leather shoes. That’s what you tell yourself, anyway, as you fail to comprehend the name of each passing stop on the subway train. The announcer makes a game of it. How few times can any part of his mouth touch any other point in his mouth, and still form something like a word?
You feel fine. The stops are painted in big letters on the walls. The train goes on, the doors open, and you can see what those combinations of half-consonants are supposed to be. Pahk-zhy. Doughzowpenonduhlev. Park street. Doors open on the left. Times passes, the stops become less relevant, less people are exchanged between metal and ceramic tubes. The paint on the walls fades. Soon, you can’t read the lettering at all. Soon, the announcer is the buzz of a fly shocked by an outdoor lantern, far away.
You cannot hear your own music through the one earbud drooping from your skull. Someone is playing heavy metal out loud. You only look up once. Everyone only looks up once.
You hear the story from the man who has just come out of the hospital every time he enters a subway car. He is not lying. He goes from the hospital lights of the car, to the hospital tiles of the station, back to the hospital lights of another car. And the sickness comes anew every time he exits, hoping for a courtyard, receiving another ward.
Creation was the designation of melting point, freezing point, breaking point, exhaustion. This is the extent of your vision – let the flickering lights remind you. This is the extent of your auration – let the crackling speaker tell you. This is the extent of your memory – let the passing stops confound you. This is the extent of your comprehension – let the crumbling letters, the jumble of syllables, the blankness of faces, the emptiness of hospital man’s plastic cup astound you.
This is the extent of your body, bobbing up and down underground. Carried here and there. Popping out of tunnels, arriving and leaving, leaving and arriving. After a long walk, you are always surprised at the spaces between stations. Without peeling paint names, still they exist, with their own strange topographies.