Three Cut Short

Kathleen Heil


                  —After Umberto Saba


THE STATUE OF THE MAN DEPOSED BY THE DICTATOR stands in front of the presidential palace, his arm raised. It is the only statue of him in the country, they say. There is controversy. I am a tourist and our guide spends more time talking about the coffee with legs than the category of missing persons erased by the regime. We do not question this because we are here to holiday, not to speak. We are asked to tip before we leave, and we do, tipping generously, forgetting what we haven't seen, feeling guilty.



THE ROCK STAR KEPT LIFTING HIS ARM in the air. All rock stars want to be Jesus. It must be tiring to be a rock star. You never get to play Scrabble or do anything besides lift your arm in the air and tell the world you're Jesus. The leader was annoyed more people didn't know the words to his songs. I thought he should be glad that people didn't walk out because when you don't pay for something they say it has no value which is why people don't care about literature and also maybe why writers are always moaning about something most people don’t care about because of money because there are no rock stars in literature and the ones who think they are rock stars are a bunch of weenies (name your names now). But sometimes there is joy and always there is lots of moaning. This is true of religion, literature, and rock music. The people in the audience were doing what people do at concerts: lifting their arms in the air, feeling special when the rock star said You're Special, never mind that he says this wherever he goes, it is part of the magic of the sacred: You're Special, because he said so.



THE TRICK IS TO GET TO A PLACE of not wanting. If you don’t want anything, people want you. Or at least to be around you. So many interactions are fraught with strange codes and contingencies that if you can manage to make an interaction about nothing, people will come to you with something. They will fill the absence for you, so that you can have everything you never wanted.