Table Thirty-One: Joseph Suglia

See the twenty-something girls tweeting selfies of themselves with the chimpanzees and the orangutans.

See the twenty-something boys tweeting selfies of themselves with the chimpanzees and the orangutans.

Before you walks a twenty-something girl wearing a black T-shirt and black stretch pants. The back of her T-shirt reads, in red lettering: Strong People Are Harder to Kill.

Beside her is walking a chet with a crucifix tattooed on his left forearm. He is wearing a black T-shirt and lime-colored shorts. The back of his T-shirt reads, in bright orange lettering: Carl Knows Wrestling. And beneath: Ask Me About Wrestling.

A willowy hipsteress is strolling close behind you, very close, as if she were inspecting your hair. You turn around and glance at her. She is indeed inspecting your hair—she is examining the shape and the color and the texture of your hair. She takes in this intelligence and turns away from you.

She does not know that you are committing to memory every image that you see.  Snatching glimpses with the camera of your mind.

You see an old man.

The old man hobbles out to the street. Now, he is standing in the middle of the street. His eyes are swelling and welling up with tears. He snatches at the air, as a flock of magnetic birds swirl around him.

Squalling and spiraling downward, the spiral of birds. Then the birds reascend. They circle and then settle on to the ledges of an apartment building.

The National Guard has left crates on the right side of Clark Street. The crates are crowbarred open—the humans attack their contents with animal fervency.

They, the humans, dance across the sawdusty ground.

Where is the National Guard? Where is the army? It is as if the local and federal governments threw up their hands, baffled by the absurdity of it all.

Shinning up a newly grown tree with its bow legs, an orangutan reaches one of the uppermost branches, unpuckers its mouth, and releases a long saurian roar. The orangutan then pouts with displeasure.

Chewing orangutans are chewing at the bark of the tree.

The tops of two trees lean together, gibbons and orangutans curled up in their branches.

Swinging freely and gracefully from branch to branch, in the spontaneously and explosively growing forest canopy, swinging and grasping, the orangutans, arboreal gliders, are sailing over your head.

High in the canopy, the orangutans are laughing at you. Cascading peals of laughter are falling down on to your head, smearing you with liquid laughter.

Before you: A milk puddle is growing into a milk pool. The milk pool is growing into a milk pond.

Canadian geese are honking and plonking their heads into the milk. The great apes are hooting and looting. You can hear the hooting and looting of the great apes. You can hear the honking and plonking of the Canadian geese. The apes are scurrying across the green roadway. The Canadian geese are flapping their wings uselessly.

A gibbon swings, one arm over the other, swiftly moving from branch to branch. It moves so swiftly that it seems to be flying vertically.

Rigid with fascination, you stare into the window of a hotel. The hotel bar is now a simian reserve, with monkeys guzzling the liqueurs and the whiskeys. They are imitating the mannerisms of the human beings who drank there before them.

Dropping his bananas, an orangutan wraps his arms around a telephone pole and begins a quick and steady climb. As he ascends, he is creating the future, not lapsing into the past. For you recognize, as you watch the orangutan scrambling up the tree, that the becoming-jungle of the city is not a reversion or a remission to primitiveness. It is a thrust into the Not-Yet, a bound into a future that cannot be conceived on the basis of animal or human-animal ancestry.

You see a pale-skinned man with large muscles. Wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and a T-shirt that reads My Wife is a MILF, the man is lolling in front of a drugstore. He is observing the ascension of the orangutan.

The man tosses aside his wide-brimmed straw hat. He is bald.

Like a chimpanzee, the bald colossus scales the telephone pole. He has clearly lost his gourd.

As you watch the bald man scaling the telephone pole, you recognize for the first time that it makes no sense to say of human beings that they are ‘animalized,’ since a human being is a mammalian animal.

You try to imagine what it would be like to be an animal. You are an animal already, of course—a human animal. But you try to project yourself, by means of the imagination, into the mind of the orangutan, into the mind of an animal that is not a human animal. You know that you have impulses, just like the animals do. You also know that you have the power to restrict and restrain these impulses. Animals, you fancy, do not have this power, the power to restrict and restrain their impulses. Only you, as a human animal, have that power. Does this mean that you are superior to nonhuman animals?

You take out your wallet. You remove the money from your wallet. You release the money, throwing it into the air.  Bills sail outwards and then downwards, buoyed by the breeze.  The money scatters as it falls.

You pounce, you leap, you jump, you bound across the lush green street meadow, spinning in circles, waving your arms like windmill wings.

You leap through the air and on to the back of an emu. You ride the emu, your legs clutching its dirty white feathers, your arms embracing its neck. You are flying without flying. Both of you are flying without flying. The emu’s beak is jutting and jerking, its head is bobbing, its long solid legs are undulating—it is whirling across the meadow. You and the emu are whirling together across the meadow, across the open prairie, which is suffused with a boreal glow.

The emu jackhammering beneath you, both of you are skipping over the rocks and the grasses until the beast skids to an abrupt halt and throws you off her back

and on to the grass.

You take a long breath and resume your run.

The bliss of selflessness, the freedom of being you and someone else—you are experiencing the bliss of selflessness.

Soaring across the pavilion, you are running idiotically, with an idiotic indifference.

Your legs propel you, your horizontally outstretched arms whistle through the wind.

Like the free mammal that you are, you run freely.

The branches of the trees smack your face as you run.

You draw breath, filling your lungs with the bracing air.

You emerge into a clearing. You feel your toes sink into the mud. In the clearing, there is a pond, a heady mixture of milk and mud.

Rhinoceroses are wallowing in the white mud.

The thought strikes you that many thousands of humans are going through exactly what you are going through now.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia


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