Viewmaster, p.1
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       Viewmaster, p.1

           Ferdinand Stowell



  Brian Ferdinand Stowell

  Copyright 2011 Brian Stowell

  License Notes


  Bush Anus Terribilis



  When I was a child, and that child I was is a mere ghost now, I used to look upon the world at large in the form of a hollow globe that stood on three spindly legs in various rooms in our old houses (it moved around a lot and so did we.) I’d start with coat hook Cape Cod, then spin to, say, the Middle East, and proceed to move my pointing finger along the slender vial of the Red Sea, an intoxicant pursed in the palm of Arabia, gripped by the lobster claw thumb of Somalia. These weren’t countries but creatures to my young eyes: monster puzzle pieces.

  Then up my finger would go making circles around the birth canal of the Mediterranean as it presses out between the thighs of Europe and Africa. Into the vast ocean I would be released, my journey slowed by the enormity of those pale shades of blue and then quickened by the flowing black lines of the Gulf Stream. I would just miss a small sperm shaped island emanating from the great phallus of Florida, poised to impregnate all of the Caribbean. I had finally returned to my own country, the beast that belonged to me.

  But my wanderlust is not satisfied, so I push the little morsel of dust accumulated at the tip of my finger and feed it to the Gulf of Mexico as it frowns open-mouthed, hiding the teeth of its submerged ridges beneath the saliva of the sea. I then timidly squeeze by the gross obesity of Texas and reach what I always knew would be my destiny and my final destination: California. It didn’t matter where in California; Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, anyplace would do.

  The state, if you’re not familiar with it, is a long dinner table or a kitchen counter-top with salad bowl Central Valley in the middle; a table where everyone sits on one side, like the ‘Last Supper’ or an awards banquet. I knew it contained that mythical city where they made movies and TV shows. To my young ears it sounded like an occidental name for some exotic far-eastern kingdom, like Mandalay or Cathay. I would look on the map for Allay and never find it. I knew about the big gold bridge (though it looked tomato soup red) and even the name of the city it was in and I already knew then what I would learn from direct experience later – things are different in San Francisco.

  When I was a young man, and that man I was is a mere ghost now, I often stared at Golden Gate Bridge, that portal for air and fog blown in from the ocean; it made promises it couldn’t possibly keep. I would rub my eyes to try and make it go away because I suspected it wasn’t real, just a brumous hallucination, a hypnotic vision straddling the two shores of sleep and complete wakefulness. In me it induced a sublime anxiety, as consuming as an obsessive love. If my soul exists and could take on the qualities of something tangible, I am sure it would resemble this bridge; a lyrate form quivering with the movements of earth and sky, wading in the shallows at the edge.

  The bridge held me; over it hovered a cinematic ‘The End’ and the siren call of wind through suspension cables. Eyes closed, I’d listen for the orchestral reverie, my dream of moving parts. Then I’d hear it, the music playing, coming towards me in the sails. The tides of my breath, the measured intake and exit of air. Intermezzo. The sailboats get closer then farther away, blistered and purged by the wind. The whole bay is a waiting room for the unknowns of the ocean; the pacing back and forth of the water craft. Biding time.

  The Golden Gate Bridge is a Deus ex Machina, a contrivance perhaps, but how else could one end a continent? Here we rest and begin.

  Chapter I: To Be and Be

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