First you think it’s jet lag. At some point you make a joke to yourself about how you have finally internalized their thing about how “all black people look alike.” At the beginning a lot of us just tucked it away along with everything else that didn’t make sense about our lives.
Every year, on a different mountain, climbers fall inexplicably, the karst rock crumbling under their fingertips like dirt, their ropes suddenly fraying, their belayer watching in horror as they fly downward, always into the lotus field. There is never a body when they search for it, only miles and miles of lotus leaves and stems and flowers, serenely swaying in what little breeze there is.
When Half-Gent was alive he used to come sit on the edge of the seat and watch Vallerina dance. She still danced, even after dying, and he still came to see her, but now there were cobwebs and dry corpses against the velvet and the curtains gnawed by dust and bat-flight.
I’d not long been made journeyman when the Schöpfers’ Guild gave me my first commission in 1928. Frau Leitner from Bavaria had written to request a small restoration–I took the southbound train from Berlin, made two changes, and disembarked at the end of the line in a small town tucked between the pleats of the mountains.
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