Thursday, July 10, 2008

My arms are still tired from flying. I would have been content to walk, but flight was necessary to avoid several hostile lurking figures, on a street lined with mature leafy trees. Evening. With steady strokes, I lifted myself above them. When they kept pace beneath me and tried to grab my ankles to pull me down, I changed the angle of my arms and flew up higher, just out of reach. Then they were gone, and I was in an old apartment house, opening doors and trying unsuccessfully and not very urgently to call out for help. The rooms were all empty, but I could see they were lived in. Eventually I found a set of stairs and followed them down two flights and into the street — not the same street I had been flying above; this was a busier street, lined with shops. I was joined by my mother (when she was a few years younger and still up and about) and my youngest son. We went into a shop that was familiar. There were lots of books in the shop, especially near the back counter, behind which was a friendly young blond woman we all seemed to know. While she talked with my mother, my son and I looked at the books. Several shelves were devoted entirely to hardcover versions of the Modern Library imprint. I looked back; my mother and the young blond woman were gone. Then I found a rather odd-looking book, newly published, much taller than it was wide, with a very busy and colorful dust jacket that depicted hundreds of people in great commotion — the Revolution, I thought. The book's title was Walt Whitman and Aram Saroyan. And I thought, what a strange, unlikely combination. Whose idea was this? I opened the book; leafing through, I could see some of Whitman's lengthy passages, and a picture of him when he was quite old, wearing a beard much coarser and larger than any I'd ever seen in his other photos. And in the back, there was Saroyan, still in his twenties, reading to an angry crowd. And then suddenly I was in the street again, alone and trying to retrace my steps, wondering at the strange, unrecognizable names on the street signs.

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