Last night was a night. A night. I said hello, and because I was alone it disappeared in the night. And it was night: oh, indeed. It was a night, one that could not talk but it listened to the lights with cavernous ears. The wind blew the smell of my greeting off to the side, and I said hello again and again to the night. It was definitely a night.
It was cold, and the darkness established the nightly atmosphere, but how else could I know it was a night without a clock? And since when do numbers make the night? Maybe in a chemical lab, where Midnight Blue 25-25-112 is so close to black that it creates the effect of a clear night tinged by a few white dots of distant starlight and the city lights downtown. All in a color.
But this was not in a lab, it was in the night which was dark; and as far as business was concerned, it was after-hours.
I put on a sweater because the temperature had dropped. The cold was more than just cold, it was so distinct from the warmth of day that it blew in with the distinctiveness of colored smoke or the smell of cinnamon. The cold was definitely apparent. It was cold that night, so I put on a sweater.
But then it got cold again: it dropped into colder territory, so I put on another sweater. My friend was wearing a sweater he borrowed from me, but he did not like it; so I was glad to put on a sweater yet again.
It was thus cold, and night, and wind was blowing colored smoke the smell of cinnamon in from the graveyards, where dusky rituals of magical intent sent purple waves and tiny sparkling stars up from the silhouette of a hand, with purple pulsing lines crowding up the sky like a visual defect caused by sudden head trauma.
But that was not real. We took to the street, able to survive the cold and the night, not resistant to them but resigned to their existence. The wind was in my face, my head was cold, and to anyone shorter than me my head was lost in the dark of night. When I do not know where I am the blame falls squarely on the fact that it is night time.
Not a lot of street lights out here, but houses have torches and the streetcar has a bell which makes invisible light that goes ding, ding, ding; and I said, “What a dazzling brilliant light that sound is,” and my friend agreed.
I had to be convinced to go to the French Quarter. It was so cold that I thought I would fall ill just hanging around in the intense discomfort. He persuaded me by making me feel small.
A few acres later we saw a girl stumbling along with no hope of survival. She appeared to be naked from the waist down, but this was the cut of her skirt. She was dropping her purse, her phone, then her purse again, leaning against the wall, entering the bad part of town away from the streetcar and its fascinating illuminations, walking silent but suffering in balance as if each of her limbs had a child of a different age rolling around inside of it.
We approached and saw she had a bloody knee and her eyes were rolling around in her head with little interest in the doings of a sober and productive world. Her speech was equally nutty, and although she said she was almost home we followed her as she circled the block. Passed once again the place we discovered her.
She was just bumbling, a bumbler in the night of cold times of darkness which all of us are subjected to, tested against, and which some use to carry out their sickest wishes or otherwise sleep the night through out of preference not to experience it.
That was not her case. She had jumped into the night with no articulate, “I prefer not,” but rather a horny assuaging of the night, and a deliciously fat-legged embrace of cold on the skin as as she guided those downward limbs through the shrub-height night in which her legs were the best–except one part of them which was bashed and bloody below the knee.
The cold was keeping the blood in check however, and the largeness of the rest of her legs diminished the unsightliness of that tiny wound, but soon she would be a victim of night or cold or one of the two put atop the other part of the other one. She would have.
Here was a task, an undertaking, which was not a responsibility; but still it smacked of obligation toward humanity and an inclination toward large legs and closure, adventure, and drunkenness, wires connecting nothing; a lambent church candle voice, and breath with cinnamon and colored smoke mixed up in it, and breaking free from the chains of tyrannical rescuers.
And then I imagined having breakfast with the sun, and tomorrow’s truth giving a new light to the cold and the dark of night before; and suddenly the purple lines and the smell of cinnamon would not seem so far-fetched. It began to sound agreeable.
But instead of tearing through the curtain which separates the audience from the players, taking repose in their shield from prying eyes, the invisible cloth catching the sound of light and the smells of cold blowing tangible over the wind like so many a rolling fruit, instead I stayed my hand and let the wandering smoke do our touching.
To say we were incongruous because our voices were not the same is fair enough. It was the arbitrary human negativity that prevented me from tearing down the purple layer of cloth to scream out, “Ah, invisible light! And the smell of cinnamon, I surmise, with a hint of the grinning cold still dressed in that dark blue suit sewn with the vibrating purple thread.” Prevents me and everyone else I have met in life.
No longer going on in that vein, with me standing there thinking with a dour expression, we carried on in our normal natural way, not fighting against the details which could ever unfold in our second silence: I mean the larger looming silence city-wide that encapsulated our tiny, loud, bright silence of talking and noticing things beaming the sound of light at us going by.
St. Charles has a streetcar that does all the going by in this city. It boils and raisins and somersaults trope-like through the diligence of the ages, and those who ride it are well-paid friends of the future.
Instantly mentioned is the smoke of our Black Cat fireworks, little racecars with fuses out the back, which we set off just before. The smoke and sparkly cinders encased in the air, bellowing hither and thither to the sound of that granulated flame, lodged under the violent loud whistle of both of us going blind. Insane people smell, but not like these lights did. The lights, and the sound of them, caroused under the buffet table of night, eclipsing the syrup of our footsteps and the crumbs of our cold hair: now, farther away, they are only a concatenation of fragrant boxes. A resting train.
How these delicate, expired objects fill the dumb basement of our memories.
I half-hid, and half-threw myself on the cluttered cobblestones in sight of the large legs, unable to reference them any further without screaming the sound we are all longing to hear: that symphony of cinnamon pounded hammer-like into the cold smoke of an otherwise endless night.
She believed me too, but that was not my problem. I asked her if she had seen Jesus at the threshold of death which we spun her from, announcing my words with the harsh teeth of an unpleasant smile. She had not.
When the cold night took that answer away, a frozen wreath of autumn leaves could have been rubbed underfoot with the same exact smell as the wind coming out of it, and that would have been the end until time and night came into alignment again, and several velour elements passed time trading themselves on the fashion line. I might try sleep then.