Monday, April 28, 2008

Roy Orbison day...

Jorge Peixoto is a compulsive window-sitter, and by this we mean he managed to while away weeks of 1946 Portugal just sitting at his desk -- which of course faced a window -- watching what went on below him. He was also a writer, which was both convenient for him and for us. He wrote humorless theater criticism for Coimbra's left-wing rag Cidade Baixo, but then again there were no right-wing rags in opposition, and there was nothing to be funny about. But his 'Sill Journals' -- covering a 16-week span of that Portuguese spring -- are some of our favorite lazy Sunday material, if only because they help us envision what it would be like if the academie actually had any windows out of which we could look.

We're betting that it's raining terribly outside right now because we can hear water gushing through the sewer channels above us, but still, we'd like to be able to see it for ourselves.

There is a boy crying out on the street and I am watching him from this, my second floor window. He might be five years-old, but he is screaming as if his lungs are much, much older. When he began to cry, or simply when I first heard him, he was merely loud. This was what brought me over to the sill in the first place. Now, he is a spectacle. The boy had begun to hop about violently, very much like an angry frog, but this apparently was tiring. So he dropped to his knees and seemed to discover at once that lying prone while kicking his legs out and swinging his fists into the pavement both conserved more energy and seemed to cause his heretofore nonplussed mother considerably more distress. He was a success at last.

He has stood himself up, inexplicably. What appears to be his older brother has just taken something quite forcefully from the crying boy's hand. This cannot bode well. Surely the sound emanating from his throat is identical to that made by those unfortunate enough to have been the subject of a public evisceration, circa 1064. Why is he scratching at his own face? Why has he now grabbed that nearby light post? I wonder what his name is.

He has a sister. Now she is crying.

Later. Everyone is walking away. The family is gone, around the next corner, but even minutes later, I am sure I can still hear him.