His Daughter’s Film

For one of her student projects, a young woman went to The Lemon Fair in her father’s hometown of Sewanee to shoot a short documentary film about glassblowing. She captured the gaffers and their molten glass in all their subdued glory. The timescale was real time. The voiceover was the voice of a child. The soundtrack amounted to a few notes played on a piano. Watching the final cut from his hospital bed, in and out of consciousness, her father realized how rarely he’d sought out stories with no narrative arc, no dramatic tension, and no discernible characters. It was like a meditation.

Broken Stirrup

A sacred pedestrian has stopped to give birth. She lies on a hospital bed with a bearded obstetrician reaching between her legs and asking her to push. In place of a broken stirrup, a nursing student leans her shoulder into the flat of the foot of the birthing woman. This student’s perspective is one place to start, when you look not out, but down a leg to a crowning child.

Crossings

A callow young man found this creature on the walkway outside his parents’ house. A few hours later, to the west, the shadows of clouds crossing the ocean.

Gentle Readers

Guadalajara

Two young friends read a single book at the same time, together. One of them sits at a table while the other stands behind him, reading over his shoulder. The problem is that the one who is sitting is both a much faster reader and the one who turns the pages. The problem is solved without a word spoken. The one sitting rereads passages, while the slower of the two, so as to match his friend’s pace exactly, only pretends he is reading. He prefers the closeness of his friend to the unfolding story.

Act in Common

Waiting

Commuters wait at the bus stop in their hats and long coats and various slacks and dresses. Briefcases rest at their feet. Bags hang from their shoulders. They hang their heads to look at their devices. They wait like spiders wait, or like religious people in forgetful anticipation of the Second Coming. All species have the act of waiting in common.

Present Tense

The marquee on the side of the chapel reads, ‘God loved the world.’ Captivated by this use of the past tense in the verb ‘to love,’ a sacred pedestrian complains to no one in particular, “It’s like they think it’s over.” Only later does he ask, “Is not the main task of human civilization in all times and places to strive for that which they most ascribe to god, which is love?”

Home As a Precaution

He called in sick even though he wasn’t really sick.

He spoke through a rag into the receiver and, insisting he was neither sick nor contagious, he invited his boss to draw his own conclusions.

Must I stay home as a precaution against a more serious condition? Is this your professional opinion?