Magma Square – 3


Where the walker sound starts the thought sentence ends. Centcom. Supreme Leader of Allied Forces in Europe. Sir. “Metal rattling over concrete riddles with punctuation interior attempts at…at…” at statements.

Head tipped back, advertisements coming alive, passengers’ heads looking like snakes and it all looks like some cheap movie — or rather, not cheap: as they have in fact spent millions and millions of dollars to create precisely these cheap effects.

Head tipped back, mouth agape, rumbling bus, thumb rubbing base of index finger for no reason; thought helping the poor was “bullshit” [pause] because I’m the poor. Closing eyes, the professor seems to address the bus riders from his podium: “the ratio of the circumference of society to the radius of its relief of the poor is equal to the irrational root of it all.” (Had to give kudos to his saying that.) “of podiums that are my craniums” (and to that)

But he felt the need to sit. (You are already sitting. “I know but.”) From his sitting position he sat, and he sat again as the bus rumbled beneath. He sat repeatedly in himself as if stuck in the act. Was he trying to get comfortable? Was he moving?

Looking at the figures seated on the bus he seemed to view them as figures of the historical past, exalted and humble, George Washington in particular (there were actually a couple of George Washingtons) among the exalted, Roman and American slaves among the humble, a Halloween of what no one wanted to go as, sitting on a sunny knoll where the grass was still gleaming and wet.

He brought his hands to his temples, thought of the “new sunny knoll of his cranium”, and no longer felt the need to sit.

(Bringing his hand to his temples was like scooting the chair up beneath him. He had been sitting but now he truly seemed to be so, sitting and still.)

And when the bus, which he truly believed himself to be on, and was on, opened its doors, he did not remove his hands from head’s temples, and continued to feel calm, though he moved.

Then he removed his hands from his temples and had just time enough to say Oh Hell

–How’s it goin there man, a voice said.
–Hanging in there Ben! How bout yourself?
–Yup, hangin in!

No I didn’t or would, –was blubbering but didn’t-slash-wouldn’t have, at least I happen to have not

Invasion of Sicily, sir. Malta they called “Finance” while I believe Sicily itself was codenamed “Horrified”. Sir. Seriously, what the F has happened to this country? Excuse me. (That flag again which seemed almost a flashing skin around his brain: its soft and waving sheath.) “I have to confess: I’m not having a good day today. Just so you know. Excuse me.” (He really had, he now realizes, depended on a certain idea of his country which had, in a heartbeat, scattered away. Where? Who?) There were no carriers in the Mediterranean. Naturally all were deployed in the pacific. Maybe there had been a few escort carriers, I don’t know. Someone had said The Wasp, but I doubt it. There it goes again, what the F, a feeling like, a feeling like … “Heh man how are ya?” I can only look him in the face (my look may be a little hostile) and bury my face in my hands. “Are you…? Do you need…?” “Excuse me no” (don’t seem so stern) “I’m sorry I just need a second. I’ve been through this, I’ve been through this. Thank you, I just, just.” “I understand, I–” he says, backing off.

Landing on the beaches. The Italians were not born fighters. I see “A.S.” sir. Eisenhower I believe smoked three packs a day. You can see them cross the beaches and the jeeps and tractors parked by the dunes. This was the first time that they employed the Duck landing craft. Used phosphorous. I think that’s right. The sand spraying from the scrambling tires. There was a pool of magma. Patton: “Clear out! Magma pool!” Was it the Germans? No. Was it the Italians? No. “Get those tanks outta here and pronto, we got a magma pool creeping up our butts!” There it is approaching and widening, bubbling and roaring, and having this incredible heat.

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