Ombre del Hombre
I am shadow. I am accessory to the subject. I move only by association. I wear a bandage now upon my hand. (Have you seen me? “He was there,” they say, “we can tell by his footprint (no one wears shoes like him). Have you seen him? He has a bandage wear here [they point to the right index knuckle] where he slashed his hand.” They wait for you to shake your head, like a good child. “He may have stitched it…” You shake your head again.)
I move not by volition, not as a body, but rather as an appendage. I wait until called. And then move upon that calling. And then I am still. You move through your day and I am there. Waiting for the bus, my collar turned against the wind, my glasses dark against the light. You move from there to here and on again and, still, I am close. When the dark comes, I am closer still. I listen to the sound of breathing. The breath of the living. The way it moves over lips and past laughing (and now stilled) tongues.
I listen. And drink it. And I am still.
I wait round the corners of the city where I am just another shadow (and then gone).
Or I wait afield, beyond the last glimmering porchlights of the suburbs, beneath the high voltage lines where nobody lives and nobody wanders. I watch those steel structures as they whine (but do not move) against the wind. I watch their metallic appendages flex and tension this way and that against the forces applied to the body. They stand because of their appendages.
My eyes glimmer.
I am an appendage.
Speak now to me.
I will always listen.
I collect and gather. My arms spread like those of that overgrown willow (that one – there) – slouched and weedy, it collects kites from the neighborhood. They hang and dangle until their shreds disappear amidst the leaves above and the loam below. I collect and gather except, instead of kites, I pull in stories. Some of them wind up here.
From the known mouths of acquaintances. From strange mouths of strangers in midnight cafes.
All right here.
To see the personal sketches of those who write to me (those who speak to me), see The Collected. I have pinned them there – their sketches, that is – and they shimmer (as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen). Did I say I collect?
I am Ombre del Hombre.