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Boredom Walks (Sketches and a Solution)

Photograph of airport gate by Mahesh Shantaram, from the series Airtime
  • By Lia Purpura
  • Issue 7
  • Essential

One kind of walk: no thoughts lifting and no particular weight to thoughts either. Dullness and the methods by which it’s endured: the cloud animals. The out-of-state plates list picked up again after a neck-cramping nap. Cat’s cradle. Gum. Fingernail inspection. The rest-stop walk, no help at all.

Another kind: being made useless by late trains. And related: the lumpen nature of bodies in waiting rooms. By noon (jury pool) all the faces thoroughly searched, and post-apple, post-book, their tics grown familiar, anticipated, dismissed as lacking inner light. While I, of course, am so radiant. And those pushed-back departures at bus stations, airports—how each additional, motionless hour moves you farther from home, while restroom and water fountain are big destinations.

The boredom of distances still to be covered. As when on a well-known path, time slackens once the usual sequence comes forth: windy stretch, hot stretch, upended sidewalk—none fat with presence, or lit with adventure.

Still, in such instances, filling the time with distractions and baubles precludes the smaller, brighter surprises: a cardinal entering and shaping time up—that tilt of his head, I’ve done that too, tipped to the side so a question slides forth. Me on the roof, me in air (once I find in myself a bird-thought) and then, as a favorite branch appears (scythe-like or trident-like, each with its quality, bouncy or nest-worthy) I’m in. Then, turning a corner, there’s a chip of black light, a beetle refusing to be its one color, collecting metallics, flashing its gem-cloak. Then a pale blue egg, dry inside and arranged in the grass to look whole. The eggshell like a helmet, jewel, ring of a squire (to squire—to lead, which itself leads, by ear, to squab, to the five-note call of doves on the roof, eggs of sound, and at least the mouth’s open when saying “egg”—try it, or better still, “oeuf”—so that out into air a round thought goes flying.

Lia Purpura’s collection of poems It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful will be published in 2015 by Viking Press. She is Writer in Residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

"CCU, 2010" © Mahesh Shantaram, from the series Airtime