- Vol. 01
- Chapter 05
The ArrangerThe arranger composes all things in search of something inside the arrangements, some angle, or composition, something that will end the search. Castles have been upended and halved; their battlements splayed on the grass, then rearranged to frame, then scattered to emulate the effects of chaos, then time. Planets have been filled with unwanted experiments. Dimensions bulge with dissatisfaction.
The arranger is restless and without gender. The arranger is two hands that shrink and grow and bend and stretch. There were four birds.
Their beaks are perfection, each one reducing its occupation of space by a perfectly proportionate amount until the last little one has barely a beak to speak of.
One travelled inside a cage covered by silk which stood on a marble table quite steadily inside the private car of a train as a young girl repeatedly failed to understand the past imperfect despite her youthful tutor's endless patience. Outside the window snow fell into a deep pine forest.
Another flipped mulched leaves with darts of its long beak in search of worms or fallen seeds in a suburban garden two miles outside of Dublin. Its partner strolled, singing, along the newly laid the patio.
For the third, the arranger visited the Sung dynasty after remembering a painting by the Emperor Sung Huizong in which the required bird was depicted. The arranger was perturbed on finding the birds had not been painted from real life but had been portrayed by the emperor's courtesans who had dressed in feathers. The courtesan who had dressed as the third bird dutifully revealed its location to the persistent arranger. It was resting in a fine nest.
The last had died after flying again and again against a window whose curtains were primly tied on either side. Beyond the window a glittering sea almost indistinguishable from the sky could be seen. This death came soon after that of the boy who had always wanted something to care for. His parents could not face returning to his room, and so forgot that silent little bird whose cage had been left open.
Having gathered all four birds, the arranger began to work. It placed them side by side on the pavement, among the branches of an oak tree, perched in a row on the eave of a Cairo office building, floating, drowned in the Mississippi river, upside down on a stone plinth, piled chest to back. While searching these positions for that which could end the search, and thus end its existence, the arranger noticed a book left on the table of a cafe in an Andalusian train station. The birds were forgotten. The arranger ordered coffee, and after taking the first sip, became lost in the book, rearranging the words. Here it felt, was an eternity of possibilities.