August 13, 2008

Tim Poland

SEVEN SIMPLE EXERCISES TO PREPARE
FOR THE INEVITABLE ARRIVAL OF GRIEF

Walk out of the supermarket and pretend your car has been stolen. Walk home laden with plastic bags full of groceries. Whistle something in ¾ time when the thin plastic handles begin to cut into your fingers.

Dig a hole in your yard—a deep one. Plant something inorganic, such as a hat or a lug wrench, in the hole and cover it with dirt. Water it dutifully all summer long.

Plan to take the dog for a walk. Take the leash with you and a bag for the poop, but leave the dog behind. Walk at your usual pace. Follow your regular route. Trail the leash aimlessly behind you. Pick up the poop left by someone else’s dog.

Collect all the spoons in the house and throw them out. All of them—even the demitasse spoons and that old, bent serving spoon you use in the garden sometimes. Prepare a bowl of hot soup. Eat it with a fork, and keep eating until you’ve finished every last bit of it.

Forget where you live. Go home to someone else’s house. Drop your coat over the back of a chair, sit at the kitchen table, and appear shocked that the people there are shouting at you, claiming they don’t know you, pleading with you to leave. Remain seated at the table until right before the police arrive.

Knock on the front door of your own house and demand to speak to yourself. When no one answers, knock harder, shout that you know you’re in there, and that you’re going to keep knocking and shouting and creating a scene until you finally answer the door.

Hide all day in the crawlspace under the house, but leave a tape recorder running upstairs so that later you can study the sounds the house makes without you in it.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007