Prepare to Die
Truth is a wormy integer that can burrow into any hole. Truth is what it wants to be. It hears what it wants to hear. It sets up a lemonade stand and sells apple-whizz if it wants. Before the settlers and ongoers, truth sheltered on the open land. The hounding world is a bucket-full of ghosts. A shimmering world of moon-light on the pond where Elbert jumps his truck. Frozen as the pond is. Elbert has the skid down with marginal skill, but he completes the rotation with the stars, the moon, the circling snow coming toward the windshield. The slippery world he knows is truth since the cavalry dispersed rations that were full of worms. Fricatives— the sound of wind between the door frame of the house into which the anger of the ghosts blow. Truth is not truth for everyone, but awkwardly makes its way onto the pond not conveniently frozen, but with little bumps and ridges not spotted until skated over and thrown. Watch out for Elbert’s truck fishtailing under the moon. A falling star. No less hazardous. What music coming from the all-night band? It too is frozen lumpily.
Elbert called it a triple axel. How long could his truck skate behind the wheel of his longing? He was back in the bottom of the barrel. What difference? All the skaters trying to get out of the bucket— their feet with their blades in Edgy’s. What a fit-fall. Twirlables— all of them. If you believe the truth they do. When would they learn to play?— but it was music to them. The truth of their efforts is acceptable in the beloved ear of their own head. In their music they look for an understanding that has to conform to their idea of truth. And withstand ideas contrary to their concept of truth they hold despite all of the blazeable words that are spoken. That night in the club. On the edge of the prairie. About to fall off. But held on by the belief in the truth that one would outlast the night.
Elbert saved his monies in a tin coffee can. Then it was gone. It had slipped across the pond as if wind blowing snow in the headlights. He looked around Edgy’s to see who had money to spend. It was Edgy himself. But Edgy denied the theft. They circled with their truths and wouldn’t let anyone in. Neither would they look at anything they didn’t recognize as their own truth. The stars and moon told their own stories too until multiple truths twirled like ghosts on ice skates.
Truth was not a shape but a motion— a transition from one form to another. Changing from water to ice water again. Alone on the road they remembered every accident that happened. Every driving without headlights to see who was first off the road not knowing about gullies and aberrations in the land, but driving as though the whole earth was full of roads. That’s how they could have taken off and not let on they hadn’t when they had. There was trouble within and without. That was the trouble. They could turn truth anyway they wanted. They said Elbert buried his monies, but could not remember where. Everyone acting as if stealing was not wrong. None of them would come into Edgy’s with their arms lifted over their head. They had fights and Elbert always was thrown out of the club.
It was winter and then close to spring thaw and the monies stayed disappeared. The mystery of not knowing who did the pilfering— the taking of whatever truth Elbert wanted to call stealing.
Elbert and Edgy were cousins in the relative-based community that wandered in and out of Edgy’s and across frozen ponds to snuffle with colds and bad teeth and coughs and whatever else ailed them.
Edgy and The Integers, his band, played their form of music that was not music but a loud sound that defined them. It explained the pit-falls. The holes in the backroads. Everyone trying to pervert truth so they could do what they wanted and not have to obey order. The dreaded word of their world. They would go out on the pond and fight it out with their trucks. They would play dead-man in the hole. Death was everyone’s truth after all. The black hole of the universe in the black hole of the pond where the ice broke under the guilty truck.
Diane Glancy is professor emerita at Macalester College. Currently, she teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. Her latest poetry book, Island of the Innocent, a Consideration of the Book of Job, was published by Turtle Point Press in 2020. A Line of Driftwood, the Ada Blackjack Story was published by Turtle Point in 2021. Broadleaf Press will publish a collection of nonfiction in 2022, Home Is the Road, Wandering the Wilderness, Shaping the Spirit. Her awards and other books are on her website dianeglancy.com