«–i] [MMX.X.iii] Michael Zell: excerpted from Stitches of Light [+i »

I have been thinking lately about the propriety of dreams directing my life. By dreams, I am not referring to that which takes place only during the nocturnal hours. It is a given that on occasion the evening reveries occur and we wake, contemplative, thoughtful, searching about how our lives might be more suitably directed. Those who have not had the reflective stir of such sleeping dreams ought to, young and old, men and women alike, lie down on the ground in the streets immediately, until the stillness of rest comes.

What I am ruminating and turning focus upon instead, under the blanket of the term dreams, are those wakeful events in which reminiscences and memories (of previous, present day, and future occurrences) slowly begin to wrap like a double helix as the strand of something unexpected and consciously unknown or unseen rises vertically up though the middle like the elongated growth of a flower’s stamen. These occur parallel to the humdrum such as mail being delivered or the cat jumping onto my lap. I have experienced an increase in these over recent years, perhaps due to my age and deteriorating eyesight. I hardly claim to be a visionary but it does make one wonder if stillness and a decreasing outer focus allow an inward fire to burn and find release throughout the day. Being that my own contribution is merely a sum of perceptions gleaned from the senses over the years, as I have lately become less reliant on vision, it appears that my storehouse of perceptions has greatly increased. The stitches of light have become the closest I get to sight, so visual images now come largely from memory.

My friends laugh and say, Ah, now that you have stopped writing, the divination arrives. I present to them no more than a bemused agreeable half-smile, for they are unaware that I, Fernando Varela Sastre, have learned a new form of writing, no longer pen and paper, very well, but my words have not ceased to abide.

zell stitches

From the modest rooms of my second floor perch on one of the quieter streets of Zona Rosa (though I have resided here for quite some time, this part of Colonia Juarez was only formally named about a decade ago, in the mid 1960’s), my workspace has been altogether modified. Instead of writing longhand on legal pads and then having my assistant type the manuscript from my scribbling, necessity has called for me to switch to a braille typewriter. Embossed six-dot configurations are used to indicate letters and I remain in control of my drafts and editing. It does take longer than the old method, but regardless, I find it more fitting than say, dictation. A fair amount of time was necessary to grasp the mysteries of the braille code, but as I was told, very few here in Mexico City have one of these special braille typewriters, so all in all I have no complaints. Would the gentleman care for a less-taxing mode? Certainly not. Pity has no house here. What sort of unbecoming man of letters would I be to allow my station to become that of a melancholy invalid? I am a proud Brazilian, and when I finish The Seven Lives of Tania Padilla, I expect it to be gratifying when they admit, See what Senor Varela still has up his sleeve.

Michael Zell lives in New Orleans. The preceding excerpt is from his upcoming collection also titled, tentatively, Stitches of Light. His stories will soon appear in Exquisite Corpse.

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