Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Ken Poyner


The voice comes from somewhere in the domesticated swamp behind Quibble’s house. Deep and worried with the wind, it stumbles onto the back porch and can be felt low in the bones of anyone posted there. It seems to emanate from no particular patch, rising like the endless mist that evolves some mornings menacingly above the reeds. It is unfamiliar, but comforting in its consistency. What the voice is attempting to say is unfathomable, though half the town has come to Quibble’s back porch hoping to decipher it. Once Quibble imagines what this voice is telling him, he will follow.


There is a man with two left feet. The condition makes it terribly hard for him to walk. Certainly, dancing or running is out of the question. Climbing is a situation of one rung at a time. His neighbors never seem to tire of watching him retrieve the morning paper. Though his condition remains a novelty, no one is really put off by it. There are no social barriers placed on him, and he casually makes public rounds as best he can. He has plenty of friends, particularly amongst those whose only recommendation is that they are regular of gait.


It takes four men to get the piano over the porch steps. Prizing it through the door is a wonder. It is going into the front room, where no family lives and the artifacts of lives hidden in the back rooms are kept. The piano was sold as second-hand, but Quibble is sure it braved many more parlors. The delivery team seldom encounters this quiver of awkwardness. Overpriced, nonetheless Quibble thought it a point of honor to have a piano that his daughter, under the lessons of the church organist, could slam sullenly at. If only he had a daughter.


Gabriella makes sense. Her license was grandfathered in. Ever since it went out of style, no one has been interested in making sense, or marketing the sense they make. Gabriella keeps the machinery in her half-basement. Sometimes she fires it up, makes a little sense for show, stacks it in a corner for a week or so. Neighbors think it quaint, will feign interest in the pure mechanics. If sense ever comes back into fashion, we would all have to go to Gabriella. The State won’t issue more licenses, and we have all forgotten how to make sense by hand.


I gave her directions to the funeral home. Luckily, she came to me. Few walking about tending to the business of the living know. Walk three blocks, go left two blocks, spin right: the one-story along the edge of a fresh residential section. She seemed unsatisfied and had me repeat myself. Half-way through, she spread her wings and with one motion was a meter in the air, with another rose until I could not see her. Sometimes it is like that. Perhaps I did not help, but I stood there straining to see if she were traveling by my advice.

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