Jacob and the Angel by David Klinoch
Ay. Pause. Ah said pause. Och fuck it! Ye’re past it. Past it! Rewind! What? Ay. Just tryin. Tryin tae get the shot. In focus like. Difficult what with the grainy downslide. But ye’ve goat tae try. Hit the button. Jeezus! Naw! It wizny him. But somewun, somthin. Look ye can see him. Through the spray. Just. Yon adam’s apple. The hollow at the base. Bone colored skin. Ay aw skin an bone he wiz. Feathery hair. Ay ah’m the cropped wan. Och fur speed, jimmy! Fur speed! Whit d’you think! Hit the button fur chrissake. He pushed ma button ah kin tell ye! Pain. Ecstasy. Aw wun in’it? We know that! Ay. That’s it! Tha’s it! Is that a …Christ! It’s a fuckin claw! Ah’ve been tangoin wi a bear! Naw, mair like a cat! What a bitch! Scream or cum? Below the belt anyway. Below the fuckin belt. God ah wiz goodlookin in them days. Even wi ma gog open! Squirmin. He knew it, jealous bastard. Och look at the slaw-motion tear. Hold yer finger oan it. Constant-like. Ay well. Ah’m jist numb now. It’s all over. Has been fur years. Now and again ah rewind. Try tae catch that moment when ah wiz forced tae change, get a life. When ah woke up in hoaspital they undid the straps and ah couldny remember a thing. No even ma name. But the pain, the fuckin pain! An ache in ma crotch the size ae a country.
It begins with paper: a love of shoe box tissue vaguely marked with the shape of shoes, the rice paper of a box camera collecting shadows, a huge sheet thrown across the couch and armchair through which you peer, as through a Japanese shoji, turning down the volume of the daylight, erasing the contours of your mother: “Ssh! Can ye no keep a saicret!”
A little later you become a misplaced marker in a book about an imaginary Asian childhood, a wandering margin, never in the same place twice, covering traces. There, you discover an odd talent for shadow boxing on the walls of bedrooms on hot nights in a monsoon. An endless game of patience. Of Risk. Or you are a cloud on caran d’ache, a difference just barely visible. They have to X-ray you twice.
Then today, on Capri, you look within the corolla of a roadside woadwaxen and, in its distance, find a stamen round and black as Lenin’s bowler hat which he wears to exiled chess with Gorky. Pawn to King four: chessmen move like insects and cast brief shadows on the petal wall. You squeeze the stamen and it stains your fingers inky-blue, returning you to paper: note the Amalfi watermark – thought a rarity – a sea-side empire of old secrets glimmering through coral parchment.