17. The Spaces Of Uncertainty Or, An Ache In The Void³
The floor, unfortunately, was phosphorus, so he had to pick his steps with care. But at last he came to a French window, which he opened, and sprang to a passing star. Star, not car. He was a poet, and that is what young poets do.
He had a pleasant physiognomy, as young men go. Unformed, of course-perhaps twenty minutes late and the hall only two-thirds full. But he was no longer young enough to hang his hat on the gas. He was from the East via Honey Dew, Idaho, but he had long resided with an aunt in Nebraska and so was a strong Acutist. He wore gray shirts and a lemon tie. At Harvard-he went to Harvard-he had opened his bean with considerable difficulty and crushed in a ripe strawberry of temperament. So that he could never stop himself when he beheld a passing star.
The motion was full, with significant curves. It made him a little air-sick at first, but he preferred air-sickness. He made no compromise with the public taste for pedestrianism. After a few days that quickly ceased to be solar, he was rewarded. He came to Asphodelia, a suburb of Venus on the main line.
In Asphodelia the poets travel on all-fours, kick their heels toward Mercury, and utter startling cries. In Asphodelia a banker lives in the menagerie, and they feed mathematical instructors through a hole in the wall. This new participant had too much of the stern blood of the Puritan in his rustproof veins to kick more than one heel at a time, but when he observed a gamboling Asphodelian of seventy years he felt a little wishful, and permitted himself a trifling ululation. The local cheer-leader heard him and knew him at once for a Harvard Acutist, and there was joy in Asphodelia.
A year or so sufficed him. He grew tired of sleeping in the branches of the cocoanut tree, and the river of green ink wearied him. So when the next star swung around he slipped away from his pink duenna and crept into the lattice-work to steal his passage home.
Thought slid from him like an oscillant leaf. He hung there lonely, in his Reis underwear, aching in the void.
He alighted in the harbor of Rio. When he trans-shipped to New York in ordinary ways, he prepared his Yonkers uncle, and he was met in undue course on Front Street.
"My boy," said his uncle, "what do you want me to do for you? Speak the word. You have been gone so long, and you were given up for lost."
"Only one thing do I want," confessed the former Acutist.
"And what might that be?" the uncle more circumspectly inquired.
"Take me at once to the great simple embrace of wholesome Coney Island."
So, clad in an Arrow collar and a Brokaw suit, the young poet stepped from Acutism on to the Iron Boat.
And what is the moral of this tale, mes enfants?... But must we not leave something to waft in the spaces of uncertainty?
³ Inscribed to the Little Review