Universals and Particulars

Because talking is too hard, we take to drawing, which is fine except that I can’t draw. Fortunately, the giant can. I wonder how she learned. I imagine immense cave paintings, a Brobdingnagian Lascaux. No, she explains to me in a series of deft sketches, they drew in the dirt with tree branches. Yes, the pictures blew away in the wind, washed away in the rain. Of course they did. That’s what pictures do.

Nothing in the patch of sunlight except the cat that isn’t there.

I draw on an oversize drawing pad with a thick marker. The giant, after some heroic efforts at doing the same, draws on the barn walls with a stick of firewood burned to charcoal. When we need more space we wash down the walls and start again. Her graphics are our mandalas.

I glance back and forth between a penny and the moon.

At night in the house I consult library books on how to draw and discover that it’s not actually impossible. I draw some things that are recognizable. My dreams start to become more vivid, with clearer, sharper images. Words start to seem inadequate in a wide variety of contexts.

A bare branch, a severed foot, a mushroom cloud, a clock face.

At a party, I start to answer someone’s question about where I come from and then reach for a napkin and begin to sketch. “What are you doing?” he asks. Leaning over me, he spills some wine. I use the napkin to wipe up the spill. The soaked-in wine spreads across the napkin and creates a shape that looks unmistakably like the man’s profile. I go home early and lie in bed creating pictures by mentally connecting the cracks in the ceiling.

No such thing as parallel lines, the geese say, flying on.


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