Siegell (4)

Paul Siegell

The Afternoon Set of 12.31.99

It starts in            the lobby of a marble hotel, like I’m there for a convention or
something;            ahm:
I swing          outside the glass turnstile doors to trade w/ the valet for a microbus,
but my              old
friend        “Chevy” is there, in the lot, beneath the awning & suckin’ down a huge
red                balloon. In silly-
high        helium-voice, he says: “This is great! You gotta try this!” and I laugh! &

I                  laugh myself
                 aloud, OUT of the dream & into the tent I lay sleeping-bag’d in at PHiSH
Big            Cypress!
               What a way to start a day! New Year’s Eve 2000, indEEd! —Lounging on
the               folding chair
of               the good morning, I follow w/ eyes the ants in the grass of a warm
winter’s          day; they seem to
know.            What they do to survive. Foraging. Painstakingly gathering
around the uneasy
beetle                in our campsite. It seems to have an injured wing. OK,                   I
understand—I feel the
pressure.                “I have to pee,” but don’t need to experience a                     port-
o-potty to do it. I’ve
seen some                      others walk out to the car-less patch of        grass near
our site, so I decide,
well to wander.                      I leave my sandals w/ the                       folding chair
& glide off, greeting
hellos to those along                       the way. Real                      conversations
blending & cooking in cool
camps. Folks. Kin—A few                 feet past                 our area’s last, there’s a
strip of sand which dips
down, as if there used to be a                                     small stream or canal there. I
ask myself, “What the?”
& realize there’s a cow bone, dead                       in the sand. Dry. Ball & Socket.
Looks like a femur. This
Reservation raises&slaughters;                                   livestock. I jump over it w/ my
bare feet, back safe
onto green & softness,                        then find                     a spot to release. Nice.
Liberation. I step in
shit—When I finish                my piss I step in shit.                 Human goopy shit—
Someone squish’d &
the mystical                   spaces b/w my toes now know it all               too well. I
didn’t notice before, meh,
but cute                    little clumps of soil’d toilet paper have even              been left
behind. “The Clean
Vibe”                 my ass! I head back to the cow bone & sand gully to             wipe
off the freakin’ man-
feces.             Nice. Where’s the Green Crew when you need them? I’ve
gotta wash my feet—
I go                    back & tell no one, but my feet are a mess. Salem notices,
softly laughs, says,
“Dirty                Hippie,” & softly laughs, but we both know the truth about
our post-
Garcia                      selves. Knowing I’m not, relax’d & listening, I feel like I’m
at the beach
in this chair.                    I see grass & underneath that: dry dirt/earth, & Trey knows
the Piper’s
what’s worming                     around underneath that—My gaze angles up & sees
a dynamic, trans-
parent cloud of dots.                     Gnats. Swarming about as if some bell’d
juggler deftly
containing the region of air                    his goofy beanbags were in. “Why
do gnats do that?” I
ask aloud. “All cluster’d up like                       that, in one tight spot.
What are they doing?”
Samson’s girlfriend, Suzy, answers w/,                    “Mating.”                    They’re
both bio-scientists
taking grad classes at the U. of Pennsylvania.               Ivy.               As the timbre
of her voice reaches
me w/ the sound of her “ting,” for a microsecond,                            a flash, my eyes
still w/i the cloud,
a science class’s diagram of the grand & negatively-                  charged double-helix
wink’d at me. 100% Sober.
A true hallucination! It was like a constellation                                  frozen for a
moment in the movement of the
gnats. A split-second show of the molecular                homes               for hydrogen,
oxygen, phosphorus,
the carbons in the helical phosphate-                     ester chains, &                  the
cross-link’d purine &
pyrimidine bases. Amazingly, for                  an instant I saw it, but                    told
no one about it… Wait,
were you ever taught that that               dark, leafy, castle-like presence
in Van Gogh’s
Starry Night is actually a                  large, cemetery-marking cypress tree? Ah,
Y2K—Fuck these
pessimistic prophecies               Safety first—Hemp spirals, indEEd…. We clean’d
up our Big Cypress              camp,
pack’d our gear,                    & headed out for the Afternoon Set: It was N.Y.E. but
still in sun & just
off to the                          right of my crew: 18 Day-Glo green-caped superheroes of
the scene,               one of
which was                  w/ child: a partying father w/ a feathery newborn boy—It was
the                     li’l
newbie’s                   bouncin’ phirst show! But, strange vacation, this baby was w/
toy: a             smaller
day-glo                   green plastic blow-up doll: the famous alien of dark-angled eyes.
And           o, Salem
call’d it:                 it was: “The most calming thing in the world.” Whooooooo’s
got my             cameraaa?

                                                                                                       December 31, 1999
                                                                                               Big Cypress Reservation

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