"The stars are threshed, and the souls are threshed from their husks."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tax Day

Today the circumstances of my routine were unexpectedly altered. In the afternoon I take manila envelopes to the post office. Within these envelopes are other envelopes with my name and address written on them. The first envelope carries a story to a journal and the second carries it back to me after several months. My stories are never published. A metal paper clip preserves the order and integrity of the pages. When I open the envelopes that come back to me and retrieve the rejected story, the paper clip is rarely disturbed, and so I assume that my work is often not read past the first page. Twice I have received hand-written and solicitous letters in addition to my returned story. The lines at the post office are usually short and composed of retirees, housewives, and other strange people who do not work. The other people waiting in line carry packages. I carry envelopes. The employees of the postal service loathe all of us with the indifference of Christ. Today the line was long, although I was, as usual, the only young man in the company. Other young men, I am convinced, live like sparrows. Everyone in line was carrying an envelope similar to mine. Lively and familiar conversations were being carried on by strangers all around me. When I arrived at the end of the line an elderly woman with a large necklace strung with plastic purple beads shouted “Here comes another one!” and most of the other people waiting laughed and nodded to me knowingly. A sharp panic took shape within my confusion. What if these people were all writers? I see in other writers a grotesque menagerie of every inadequacy and vice that dooms me to charlatanism and inconsequence; I cannot bear them. I can only bear myself but gently. My fear, however, was soon soothed- the conversations around me were thoughtful and wry, filled with genuine laughter and edged with sadness. Everyone was talking about money. As I moved through the line the whole range of human emotion bloomed around me like flowers or fire. The commonality of men and women were a tapestry around me because it was tax day. Food no longer binds us to the table, what we read and who we vote for set us apart, family is a crown of thorns. Money alone brings us together, money alone can cause an entire line of people to speak openly about their lives and joke with nameless neighbors, money alone reminds us that we are human. I do not earn enough to file my taxes and was thus was excluded from this ritual, though the others included me tacitly. I eventually gave two dollars and nineteen cents to the hate-filled postal employee and sent my thin stories on to their piteous fate. Then I came home and began to write this. Spring is here and it belongs to accountants.


Post a Comment

<< Home