What Dignitaries Know

A stream of words winds through a crowd, occasionally slapping too hard against tables and spilling drinks. I have been here before, not here here, but in the same type of situation. My formal clothes are a metaphor. Treading water, I stretch my legs only to skim the bottom with the tops of my toes. All exits are blocked or at least obstructed by large men in heavy life vests.

The speaker flashes his warning, giving us signals of where it is not safe to tread. The devil is in the undercurrent, his fingers like hooks, preparing to snag the unfortunate. Some are lost, have been for years. We must now worry about those with the interest to keep their head above water. It is impossible to tell whether the audience agrees or is only bobbing.

The speaker transmits strong recommendations. You may find yourself pinned against the rocks in swift water. Do not try to fight it; do not try to swim it. Keep calm. At least you are not caught in the vortex, or forever swept away. Be patient. Those with ropes and sturdy watercraft will eventually come to you.

Also, it might seem strange but many forget to keep hydrated. If no canteen is handy simply swallow a little. Just a bit. Be careful not to inhale when you have a sip or your lungs will take on water.

And always remember to chant encouragement. You are not the only one and by reaching out you are saving yourself as well. Survival in numbers, this is our best chance.

It is at this point, always this point, I notice the speaker moves subtly, almost as if in a straightjacket. If only the rest of the room could see, could realize how bottled up he is. Perhaps we could chant and make him not afraid. However most are growing weary and conserve energy by floating face up.

It is true what is said, about power, about its absolution, its omnipresent grip on solid ground. I have no reference to dry land except what has been displayed in slide shows and built to scale models. I may not know exactly how to find it but I prefer to swim alone, at least give it a go.

At home I undress in front of the mirror taking care to not keep the shower running too long before I get in. Most would call the night a success, that is successful people, speaking to those who made them successful.

I try to sleep but the images of the night go to fast. The water became too choppy and the shore was lost. in the flashing waves, I remember flailing arms grasping at platitudes and strained faces spitting up banalities, God bless us, God help us, God save us, most of us unaware these prayers only aided the rising waters.

What Dignitaries Know


Salt Lake City, United States

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Artwork Comments

  • Alix Purcell
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  • Luke Downes
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