from the collection of: d. heidel

artwork: Chaos, George Frederick Watts and assistants, c. 1875 – 1882.

Things were spinning out of control.  Death, destruction, a damnation of desolation.  A bug crept over his face (he could feel it).  It was looking for a convenient place to make small inroads at masticating the flesh.  (That sounded like a politician’s speech: “I will work tirelessly at making inroads towards the mastication of flesh.”)

A bug crept over Etude’s face (he was sure of it); yet when he brought a finger up to his jaw, there were only day-old whiskers.

6:30.  The snow was light grey in the early morning.  That was easy to write: “The snow was grey in the morning light.”)

He was looking for things that were easy to write.  Things that were easy.  There was too much pain to do much more.  Death, destruction, a damnation of desolation. 

The white (or grey, in this case) sprawled off for a ways over the quiet hibernation of winter wheat, and then farther off over an expanse of corn stalk roots left like a headless army, and then glassed the road that ran like a shimmering grey vein.  Everything grey.  (That’s easy enough to write, he told himself.  Good and easy.)  Across the road, a tangle of skeletal oaks and maples.  (Skeletal – yes, but no.)

He looked at the leafless frozen plaits of the wood.  Skeletal would be one gnarled old January tree, its shoulders and knobbed joints cast black against the sky.  These trees were swept together, their lofty grey vicissitudes tangled like the shared dreams of a cult of slumberers.  It made him think less of skeletons and more of a Stephen Gammel illustration – the ink laid like fine veins, tangled on the page.

The wood was difficult.  That last paragraph would have been difficult to write.

He needed more ease.  He sipped a slug of the stuff that brought warm cotton to his brain and turned back to the news.  Death, destruction, and a damnation of desolation.

There was nothing to be done.

He thought of his hands as they once were – small, pudgy.  His kindergarten teacher once asked the class, “What does egg begin with?”  And, notwithstanding that the letter of the day was E, he had eagerly offered, “It starts with AA for aig!”  Simple.

She had smiled, shaken her head gently, and said, “No, Etude, egg starts with E!”

That was a beginning of strange rules, stranger exceptions, a delicate neurology of nuance. 

The letter of the day had been E.  (Pay attention to these things, he had remembered.  And his hands had grown, lengthened, lost the baby fat.)

There are things to share, a voice to give to the patterns of a veined maple leaf.  One vein leads to the next generation of vein, leads to the next (smaller), and so on.  Edward Lorenz would know.  And yet, Edward Lorenz knew that there would be no prediction that could accurately forecast the chaos of tomorrow.  The Butterfly Effect and all that.

That was Edward Norton Lorenz, mathematician.  Not to be confused with Edward Norton (who, at one point in his career, splits a black man’s head in half between his boot and a sidewalk curb).  Also not to be confused with Ludvig Lorenz (who described the quite unequivocal math of the refraction of light relative to the properties of the medium through which it travelled).  And also, Edward Norton Lorenz (his wikipedia face aglow with a comforting smile) should not to be confused with Eduard Lorenz (his portrait grainy, stern, [or maybe just confused], and bearing the double-lightning bolts of a fraternity of soldiers who spent their time developing the manufacturing methods that would maximize the output of dead Jews, Gypsies, and Queers; perhaps, in German, a crisp statement from that Eduard Lorenz: “I will make inroads towards the mastication of flesh!  Sieg heil!”).

Things are spinning out of control.  Etude looked again at the difficult confusion of winter trees.  They were grey, yes.  Beyond that, description neared the impossible.

He was disheartened.  He took a breath.  That was easy enough.  Another breath.  And that is what he would do, he decided.  Between now and the first warmth of spring, he would just breathe.