i am who i am & when i grow up

Posted on April 19, 2009

4


i was born in a small town in the county of rhineland-palatine where they eat pig’s neck: imagine, grown men sitting on one of the town’s squares their shirt sleeves rolled up and their ties thrown over the shoulder, biting in the springy animal flesh. this gets to me.

buried now below an overpass, an old house leans against a wall like a man too old to let go of life in conscience. he wants to be carried away to the land of the dead but nobody seems to notice. this is supposedly the house of the original dr faustus who made a deal with the devil for happiness, more than five-hundred years ago. i believe this story with all my heart.

the oldest market in town is egg market. i walked across it many times looking for traces of chicken crime: broken shells, yellow stains, the limp of a gentle woman who collided with a cage, cawed at by the fowl flying in all directions. i did this because there had not been an actual market for many years now – but my father told me about it. this story i did not need to believe in: the street sign said “egg market” and this was a german town. things were in order.

the different squares were connected by roads – they were of medieval making, too, and it was said that there wasn’t a straight path from any one place to any other. even the small river whose name sounded like the german word for “near”, the Nahe, ran around itself in circles. it would made you dizzy.

a friend of my father’s owned a flat in a bridge house. that’s a house built on the bridge. there were two of these houses and they were the oldest ones apart from dr faustus’ den. state money had gone into saving them from falling over. but if a house wants to go, nothing’s going to stop it, and you could see that these house were getting ready to topple, to take the leap in the water, hoping perhaps for another existence elsewhere down the river.

my father’s friend was a journalist. his paper was local, which meant that anything beyond ms meyers having let the cows out and losing one of them in the hills was worth reporting. during summer, you might find even a picture of that lost cow in the paper, with the caption “loulou, the cow ms myers said to have lost, as seen in the neighbouring town of F.” the journalist was not without aspirations – he did eventually make it to the tabloid for the region. he would now report on lost otherthings.

the journalist had a son with a french woman, michelle. the son’s name was gerard. i thought both names were beautiful. they stuck out in a ancestral landscape littered with the names of families having fled in the wake of wars – refugees in the small town whose streets were as untidy and quirky as their stories and subterfuges. “where did your folks come from?” was a frequent question, not infrequently answered by “from everywhere”.

i was born in a small town but I was made of my mother’s backbone. i reckon an angel cut me from it like eve was cut from adam’s rib. she had plenty of backbone for her entire life, but she wasn’t from that town – that weakened her. since i was nervous tissue from her own, i knew how to make her laugh. my wit tickled her senses and helped her forget that she was in the wrong place.

when i grow up, i want to live in dr faustus house, and i hope the devil still comes to visit. i’d love to ask the old fellow one thing or two. the stuff that you never read about: life and death and all that.

© 2009 finnegan flawnt

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