Moez Surani: Real Life

 

He would have consecrated more than a hundred tender and ironic pages to it, and would have embellished them with complex and scrupulous dialogue; he may well have added a touch of melodrama. The essence of the story…

– J. L.BORGES, “THE DUEL”

(I)

“You look good,” he said, “with your glasses and your hair up. Very arty. As if you could be—”
“Growing herbs?”
“No. Maybe bonsai.”
“You have an elevated idea of what art is.”
“I simply meant something meticulous.”

 

(II)

“You look good,” he said, “with words all over and papers stuck to you. Very prosaic. As if you could be—”
“Some cottage kindling?”
“No. Maybe a novel.”
“You have a limited view of fibrous material.”
“I simply meant something aesthetic.”

 

(III)

“You look good,” he said, “holding chickens and talking about holistic therapies. Very granola. As if you could be—”
“The chicken and therapy lady?”
“No. Maybe a wild utopian.”
“You have a limited view of progressive lifestyles.”
“I meant no disparagement.”

 

(IV)

“You look good,” he said, “with your ankles at my ears and shrieking joyously. Very arousing. As if you could be—”
“The campus whore?”
“No. Maybe a long-term lover.”
“You have a limited view of relationships.”
“I just meant that I’m enjoying this.”

 

(V)

“You glow,” he said, “with the happiness of your Spain and Morocco trip. Very serene. As if you could be —”
“Someone who is satisfied?”
“Well, yes. And someone who can leave certain things in her past.”
“You have an optimistic view of personalities.”
“I simply meant that you wear lightness with beauty.”

 

(VI)

“You look good,” he said, “running around and on fire. Very theatrical. As if you could be —”
“Someone who needs desperate help?”
“No. Maybe a legitimate disaster.”
“You have an objective stance towards the suffering of others.”
“I just meant that we each need to work through our problems alone.”

 

(VII)

“You look good,” he said, “laughing and talking closely with my best friend. Very ironic. As if you could be —”
“A little heartbreaker?”
“No. Maybe cruel.”
“You’re threatened by the happiness of others.”
“I simply meant that we may each need a domain where the other has only little presence.”

 

(VIII)

“You look good,” he said, “falling through space and yelling without a parachute. Very dire. As if —”
“This existence that I only tentatively invest in means a lot to me?”
“No. As if the materiality of your yelling will somehow improve this.”
“You have a fatalism that will limit you.”
“Perhaps, perhaps…”

 

(IX)

“You look good,” he said, “in your black peacoat and walking in New York City. Very sweet. As if —”
“I’m affecting sophistication?”
“No. Maybe literariness.”
“Well, tell me a secret then. Whisper something into my little ears.”
“I love the sex scenes in Leonard Michaels’ stories.”

 

(X)

“You look good,” he said, “squatting, peeing in this alley while I keep watch. Very elegant. As if —”
“I’m not sufficiently adult to be ashamed of bodily functions?”
“I guess.”
“Well, I have no other option right now, do I?”
“I just never thought it would come to this.”

 

(XI)

“You look good,” he said, “all in leather and leaning on your bike. Very put together. As if —”
“I could drive down through Mexico and into the raucous Favelas of Rio?”
“No. Maybe Colombia.”
“He oído la tierra es hermosa.”
“Sí. Cerros, valles, montañas, la costa. Debe ser ideal.”

 

(XII)

“Tu as l’air bien,” dis-il, “quand tu ris et dont tant se soucier de l’époque. Tres sympa. Comme si—”
“Je suis vraiment une personne qui peut vous détendre?”
“Non, seulement que vous portez langueur bien.”
“Les femmes qui sont fiers et forts repousser vous.”
“Bien sûr. Nous aimons les femmes qui sont très insipide. Il fait de la complexité de la vie plus facile.”

 

(XIII)

“You look good,” he said, “at this party, after how many years now.  Very strange. As if—”
“I could be the one?”
“No. But definitely a complication.”
“You’ve never really believed in love. Ever.”
“All I meant is that I spend so little time in this city.”

 

(XIV)

“You look good,” he said, “playing this harp and floating, floating on that billowy cloud.  Very ethereal. As if—”
“All our essences are finally free of those flawed corpses?”
“Yes, and that we drift and drift, just as we did in life.”
“Fatal, cynical, aloof, a lover of bodies, cool, able to engage fully only in the sanctum of art…”
“I just … It’s you on your cloud and me on mine.”

 

(XV)

“You look good,” he said, “disembodied, harboured only in the double tears of these quotes. Very captive. As if—”
“This dialectic imprisons us?”
“No. Maybe you. Like noble Heaney I will dig.”
“We’ll have to go past voice and convention, past what connotes, past genres and intentions, well past everything and up into the sky.”
“Then it will come – salvation, bliss, an infinite style, the long deep sleep of Keats. And we’ll age past content and it is music that will mean and be.”

 

(XVI)

“You look good,” he said, “reincarnated as a bunny and hopping around in this good forest.  Very bouncy. As if—”
“All my misdemeanours caught up to me?”
“And I guess the sins too.”
“But absolutely nothing vexes me.”
“Your good cheer is a veil over the circumstances of this strange existence.”

 

(XVII)

“Hello, you,” he said. “Reincarnated as a stone and sitting thoughtfully in this cliff above the water… Very stoic. As if—”
“What I know of morality is not even fit for a bunny?”
“Yes. And that sentience had its rewards.”
“But now I am like that Paul Simon song.”
“I prefer ‘Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.’ ”

 

(XVIII)

“You look good,” he said, “tumbling in this nothingness without any features or character. Very cosmic. As if—”
“All is one and one is all?”
“And that it was the darkness of ego that made our matter struggle and chafe against the shared elements of the other.”
“You have a retrograde point of reference. And please don’t be another one of those dilettantes who dabble in the East.”
“I just cant let dots pass me by without connection.”

 

(XIX)

“Fancy meeting you here.”
“You’re a turnip – now a field – a scrambling mouse!”
“Indeed.”
“What a simple thing it would be to mock you mercilessly.”
“I’m more than happy with my station, little honey bee.”

 

 

Moez Surani 2Moez Surani‘s writing has won numerous awards, including the Chalmers Arts Fellowship, the Kingston Literary Award and the Antigonish Review‘s poetry prize. His first poetry collection, Reticent Bodies, was described by Jacob McArthur Mooney as “that rare book that has the power to be a lynchpin, a hinge in the history of Canadian poetry.” His second poetry collection, Floating Life, was praised by Arc Poetry Magazine for its “stunning, simple images.”

 

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