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Steve Fay

Notes Taken as Warning

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structure in reverse is the black sky
~~ Leslie Scalapino

The man falls while carrying a bucket of water. The water lit by sun but not light. Some molecule tearing. One arm flails up. And out. Looking through the man falling scrapes the view behind.

You think the man is conservative. His clothes have no fashionable rips. A plane leaves contrails across the sky.

A cloud of breath obscures the man's face in his fall. He must have gasped or someone did. Some of the water leaps over him when the base of the bucket strikes the frozen ground. Then he lies there.

You think the man will groan or cry out. The water was not light. The water was an anchor looking for sea floor. His arm a chain. The other arm tried to fly, tried to grasp at molecules.

The man falling you watching him watching you watching the water springing up along the bucket's rim. The sun. The breath. Yet no cry at all. Maybe the man has died.

There are statistics for how many men die of carrying buckets of water in winter, their median age, their marital statuses, their political affiliations, their attitudes about fashion, their love of airplanes.

It is only a matter of time before you can google all of these numbers. Still no cry from the man. What percentage of these men are guaranteed to cry out (or not) when they die.

Looking through the man falling scrapes the view behind. You had wanted to walk there, where oak leaves were mixed up in the snow that melted and then refroze as ice with brown flecks inside it.

You wanted to be quiet which means you wanted to cry out where no one can hear.

The water is from a well four hundred feet deep. A drill on a truck penetrated the earth to go that far, an electric pump being lowered down the hole to be charged by a generator (eleven miles away on the river) burning coal.

As the drill point penetrated the layers of shale, black clouds of coal dust belched from the hole after certain thrusts. There was a groan, like the one the man eventually made.

The water lit by sun was not light. It only thought it was light because it was no longer deep underground. The water only thought it was light because the penetration of the earth had relieved it.

Did the man think he was fat again because he was carrying the weight of all that water. You had wanted to walk across the frozen oak leaves but not with this man in case he dies.

Soon the sky will darken, and water leaping over falling men will not glimmer then. The water will freeze in the bucket if it is not carried by someone to some place warm.

Geese are flying over looking for open water along the river (they can see its snake-like shape from the altitude they've obtained). The geese flying over are shaped like cellos each time their wings close against their bodies.

You wonder what shape the falling man likes best in geese in buckets in automobiles in women in men in well pumps. You think he glanced up at the plane when he should have looked at where he was stepping.

You wanted to be quiet which means you wanted to cry out to shout to hit things with a heavy stick to belch black smoke to frighten the onlookers you didn't want to have.

If you could grasp molecules you would give one to the man even though it would not hold him up, or pick him back up. Even as a vee of cellos catching up to a plane might shoot it down from the darkening sky (or not).

Where the falling man scraped the landscape behind him it later crumpled like paper and collapsed. When sun shines through the sides of translucent buckets the ocean becomes unstable.

Contrails pull any sun over the horizon. And bring on night.

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