chase scenes serial #18

a given day, like the spell in college during a large project push when I would stare at the X-acto knife blades that were wrapped and packaged in foil like sticks of gum and pictured taking them out and chewing on them. Even when they weren’t in sight I pictured them in this way. It made my teeth numb. “Ha une camera?” means “Do you have a room?”‡ For some time on this flight, or at least during the ascent, I believed I might not write any more on the trip, as it was my thought to only write while out of my home environment, the safe world where I compose empty, detached texts. I wanted this writing to be a vehicle of flux and whim. I almost just wrote “I wanted this writing to be about…” I caught myself. It is easy to slip into such lazy traps, especially when I now, having skirted that phrase, take note of the fact that this text is necessarily not ‘about’ anything, it exists somewhere, it seeks to be within a certain sphere of origin, that being the underlay narrative of my trip to North Dakota. But I almost stopped the composition because of my concern about flying. We are bouncing about again here at thirtythree thousand feet (33,000′). The wings waver like a diving board. I listen to ‘Trans-Europe Express.’ There is a patchwork cloud cover allowing me to make out the scale and

When I landed in Rome I had nowhere to go. I had not booked a pensione, did not have a map, and had not slept in thirty (30) hours. It was late morning. I went straight to San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane, which I had learned the address of, in order to see the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. The way the light, which barely fell onto it, from the cupola and the bizarre arches that awoke it, playing across the gold rays and he pale face swept away my temporary homelessness [I cannot, in fact, remember the light at all, and only picture the statue as I see it in photos], I loved the smell of the dank basement crypt where I stood completely alone and silent. I wandered the streets ducking into every albergo and pensione. “Ha une camera?” There was nowhere to stay in Rome. I began to grow despondent, then horrified, and then it began to rain. I finally found a place, the clerk scoffed when he told me the rate, three hundred dollars ($300) a night. I put down my credit card, delirious, and went to my room and fell into an uncomfortable afternoon slumber. When I awoke in the dark, my body was hot and my eyes and sinuses felt cramped. I walked the rain wet streets in the dark, tried to phone home on a payphone and stood in front of Saint Peter’s, the antique yellow light reflecting in the glimmering wet piazza. It was empty and late. I walked back to my room through the rain. The room was stifling and white. I opened the window overlooking a small courtyard and climbed out onto the roof with a chair from the desk. I sat in the dark. The night sky was almost blue. I could see only up. A plane flew across the opening in the roof. I was completely alone and silent.

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