A Bucket Full Of Broken Glass (excerpts)

Beloved, if we don't want their life, it's so simple, all we have to do is, we just won't imitate their life... But beloved, without my coffee I'm so quickly angry without my cigarettes I explode even before my first cup of coffee without even a cup of tea to comfort me without my newspaper I don't know what's going on without my TV I see devils laughing in my face without my work time yawns ahead of me without my family I'm lost without my friends I'm all alone without shopping I feel naked without going out I hear the blood pounding inside my ears without partying I'm miserable without my drugs I'll go insane without background music my thoughts go on barking inside my head without a glass of wine I can't eat my meat without a drink my hands start twitching without a hobby my hands start itching without my books I start crying without time by myself I start hating you without secrets and lies I'm afraid you won't love me anymore without ever walking away I'm afraid I'll soon kill you... Beloved, for one plus one to equal two, one and one must be clearly defined, clearly isolated, by hardness or friction, and should not melt on contact, one rock plus one rock equals two rocks, but one water plus one water equals one water, because water doesn't want to win an argument, water doesn't need to be proven right... But beloved, what's this wall of blurry glass standing between you and me, I press my eyes against it to come closer to you, but I see nothing but my own history dragging itself from tragedy to farce and back again, from nowhere to nothing, from hell to just take a look all around, I see my history laugh when I look and I hear it cry when I turn away, beloved, can't we better live together inside the wall than both out on either side, night and day and maybe forever if there's really no way out, beloved, all this history is made out of nothing but habits, one reaction reacting against another, is there anything at all that isn't a collection of habits, god, gravity, nature... A thousand ducks packed close together on the surface of the water, their beaks all pointing the same way, as if they can only sleep or fly up as one body, whenever one of them dies then all the others just draw a bit closer together, water, air and life are all just elements to move through their bodies or to move their bodies through, and not one of them can even think of wanting anything nature hasn't already imposed upon them, and what about the seagulls, silver acrobats with their hard eyes and mouths turned down that make them look so cruel but it's not their fault, it's just the way the world made them, or those laboratory mice rigged up by evil scientists with a switch wired straight to the orgasm reflex, all they had to do was hit a button to give themselves an instant shot of love, but they just couldn't stop hitting it again and again until they all finally died of exhaustion... Like the Realized One who has found his own inner button and can't keep his inner finger from hitting it all day long, and all his disciples never understood why he had to die so young... And yes I know all the truth that's real isn't written by doomed arrogant poets stumbling around in their own shadows, but flows as a continuous stream of pure wisdom, perfectly worded in the first and only draft, brutal and compassionate, from the mouth of the Realized One, casually, effortlessly, without any of that literary fussiness, he showers his immaculate knowledge upon humanity, while his disciples all scramble to get it written down, and of course they all get it wrong even with the help of the most advanced recording technology, and when the master dies he leaves behind as many interpretations as there were disciples, as many schools as there are interpretations, and the poor fools who all missed the point, now they have to wait another 3,000 years before an opportunity like this comes back again, and until then they're doomed once more to stray through the dark endless night, and they pass the time by fighting over whose misinterpretation was the one and only truth, and their descendants slaughter each other, burn each other's villages, rape each other's wives and daughters, all for a little piece of the broken mirror...


Notes from the village called City. Life under the microscope. Tourists leave wet marks on everything their bulging eyes stare at. Village Rock Star is still young, he's never had a woman but he's done plenty of milking. And Suicide Belle, her look is Natural, without her make-up she's not Natural, she hardly eats so she can save her money to pay for all the expensive work on her teeth, she knows teeth aren't made for eating but for looking good, and every morning before she goes out to brave the big bad world she paints the same masterpiece upon the white canvas of her motionless face, a fine brush to apply the human colors, and her face comes to life, a living mask upon a head that's already dead... Time for the big final jump, end of suicidal tendencies. The village therapist says hers was a difficult case. I tried to tell him every depression is post-natal but he just wouldn't listen... The whole village is on his waiting list, only they don't know it yet, they're all too busy keeping themselves occupied... The husband watches his sports match on TV with headphones so he won't disturb me, but it sounds just like he's having sex. What is this stranger who has eaten up the one I once loved, if it were the dog I'd have it put to sleep, if only he would repent, let me convert him, to the good old days, when he still made me fluid with his poetry, but all we ever do anymore is wait for death and we're so well prepared, experienced as a corpse... Life under the blankets, where the only great danger is bedsores and all you have to do is turn around once in a while to keep your bones from sinking through your flesh. For years and years now they've been keeping Grandma behind glass, every birthday she cries this one is my last and this time it's for real, flabby old arms squeeze the child, swallow her up inside the huge shapeless chest, the fat old fingers hold up a tarnished coin, two pink worms and a double row of pearls too white to be real surround the wet black hole, how about a kiss for Grandma? The child grabs the coin and runs away... Is it too late, cries Grandma, is there no time left, no more future where something will happen that gives a meaning to all the years of futility, just like in the movies and books... And the death that's been eating away at her for so long is hiding behind her wrinkles and the child wears a bigger mask each time it comes to visit.

"You don't belong here, among all these horrible people, you're nothing like them..." Could he be talking to me? It must be some kind of mistake. Me, banned by birth to live in ugliness, in a world set on doing everything as unconsciously, as insensitively as possible, every gesture, every word... Me, trapped in this body that hates me, that makes me bump and crash against those few rare things of beauty and love I ever come across, so I end up destroying them by accident. My eyes pinched like I'm staring into a light too bright, my teeth bared in suspicion, always ready to growl or bite. "What have they done to you, beloved? I hardly recognized you..." I follow his gaze to my hands, I see them twitching and wringing each other in a bitter endless struggle I have nothing to do with, and which I'm powerless to stop. But then he opens a door I'd never seen before, we enter a garden where the birds don't scream but sing, and they don't fly away in panic when we come closer to look at them. No, all this can't be real, any moment now I'll wake up in my old lumpy stinking bed, the sharp ticktacking of the alarm clock right next to my head, counting off another useless second, and then another one... But then I hear a sound like music, I look up and see him blowing on a clarinet, his voice howls inside me and wakes up the void, life clenches into a whisper, silence loud as a knife, so unlike anything I ever heard on the radio, the ugly chattering radio, always left on even when no one was there to listen... I don't dare close my eyes, not even for a blink, I’m so afraid I’ll fall asleep and wake up again in the world where I came from. And inside my head that old suspicious dog is still growling... Go away. I don't trust you. You're just like all the others. You're playing tricks on my imagination. He tries to caress my face, I bite his hand, he cries out in pain, I'm sure he's going to hit me but he doesn't, I see the tears in his eyes... I'm staring out through a crack in the ice, silence condenses into something so thick I can touch it, the universe is breathing life into me, a bright light is glowing behind the paper-thin membrane of the visible, and I won't even try to say what happens next... "At last I recognize you, beloved. I knew you were still in there somewhere."

All words and images copyright 2008 by Vanita & Johanna Monk

Antarctica table of contents (Go to any chapter of the book):

Monastery site map (Go to any section of the site):