(Droplet) shortsock.

Daniel Lebedev, no apparent title, but I loved how it feels like visual oneiric decay.

I have few conversations which lay vivid in my mind, very few, in fact. I’m one for the dead particulates of experience, objects that don’t move nor breathe, still things, oblivious details, a sort of hyperesthesia which only serves to coif the saturnine adepts of purple prose. And my predilection for «things» is not given by an inflated sense of grandiosity or any specific disillusionment with people, but rather, the fact that I have a sensorial perspicacity about me, I see people as sounds at times, some are colours or tastes, because although those things are as volatile as people, they are volatile in predicable manners, in opposite to people. Thus, I tend to cling to my own clarities, my own bitter domains within, where any disappointment is only my own.

Yet, one particular conversation clenches firmly, often removing me from my self-centred dalliances; it was a prolonged and especially strained dialogue between one of my clients and I. He, an elderly man likely in the block of seventy and a few; a small and frumpy man who, despite wielding a stern, taciturn conduct, appeared fervently keen of talking once any given body presented itself for the role of listening. Shortsock (which is a direct translation of his Portuguese name) had served shortly in the Ultramarine War at the earliest years of Portugal’s most extensive dictatorship, and upon return he came to be a carpenter much to the likes of my father — with whom he shares many years of friendship — and ceased his working activities as a public servant, profession he only did for a bout. Our conversation began from an interjection, a rhyming couplet he slung towards my sister apropos some awfully unspecific newsreel back-grounding the administrative room, afterwards quickly proclaiming it as his own. A short «do you write?» from my sister, sounding mildly uninterested, led to an answer in the affirmative and a successive «my brother loves to read», a type of statement typically harrowing to anyone as timorous as I, especially when it alights certain aspects of self which one rarely likes to exhibit, if not only for the sense of property they are often dignified with. I proceeded a bit protectively, opting to ask which authors he found most approximated his liking, a question that he dismissed with celerity in favour of maundering how civilisation was so vile and mordant, being that both the reason why he wrote as well as his most versed subject. I asseverated a tad frigidly that political poetry, much in the threads of anything general and distant, failed to captivate my attention entirely, and that I strongly preferred the unique and indelible quality of experience, of humanity in its minute and mercurial essence, experiences which, if not taken to Art and replicated through that instrument, couldn’t possibly endure, such was their particularity; things that I couldn’t have written, things that I couldn’t have lived. Human things, specific, away from the portends of civilisation or the pallor of absolutes. Things that I can’t yet write because I do not know the apposite forms and words necessary to bring them forth.

How careless of an approach, I must have thought immediately. Shortsock transported a grimace of shattering the likes of which I was oddly familiar with, and volleyed me with verbal arrows: «that is because you are young, you do not know what it is like to be in a war-zone, to have children and naught to succour them with, you have not lived this world as I lived, and it is yet to break your heart as it did mine», utterances that did not fail in showering me with silence. It is true, I do not know, and had I been perspicacious of people, something that I’m naturally not, I could have sensed beforehand that he wasn’t disappointed with either the world nor civilisation, he was disappointed with his world, not mine, even in spite of his generalist poems with the purported objective of weaving a better future by diminishing anything current. He did not want a better future inasmuch as he didn’t care much for the current, but simply, to change everything hitherto. His past fumbled him, it was tortuous and insurmountably cruel. While my life satisfied me, I was afforded the vanity of living shards of other lives through Art, if only to compound my own or enrich my experiences, but he was simply never afforded vanities of the like, and I was terribly ice-veined within the first step — a true testament to why I dodge as many interactions as I can — and the innermost fissure that stood between us wasn’t merely a differing focusing lens on matters, or even on what matters, as I initially assumed, but more-so the nature of our memory, that delicate «seamstress, and a capricious one at that. Memory runs her needle in and out, up and down, hither and thither. We know not what comes next, or what follows after. Thus, the most ordinary movement in the world, such as sitting down at a table and pulling the inkstand towards one, may agitate a thousand odd, disconnected fragments, now bright, now dim, hanging and bobbing and dipping and flaunting, like the underlinen of a family of fourteen on a line in a gale of wind.¹», and to me, those thousands of disconnected fragments were mostly joyous and bathed in the rosy lights of dawn, memories of baubles or hazy fields lathered in the green tinkle of emeralds, large tiled walls and the scent of uprooted plants. His were replete with people, the dirges and metallic chimes, pernicious seasons and hunger, lack, dereliction, fury, all bobbing and dipping, pecking his innards, tirelessly demanding. Things are rarely cruel, but people so often are; the former can contain small mythologies, symbols and beauties of perfumed shapes, but only the latter can reach the highest peaks of substance, the most intricately rewarding forms of beauty, especially when it interacts with our own. But things are much more durable than we, «whose frail warmth cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.»²

We talked further about specifics, I engaged in a political discussion in which I was merely the receptacle of information, supporting a manufactured rapt, as I felt indebted to do so, and we soon came upon common grounds, since his daughter had recently ended her own life due to relentless abuse from her former partner, and I had many mental health issues of my own. These morphologies of emotion, often reduced or occulted, often diminished to the farthest extremes of our vulnerabilities, are simultaneously our humanest traits, the ones which carry most force, that are most limpid in our memory. Shortsock wasn’t particularly keen on vulnerability, he was raised by a regime whose greatest weapon was the effacing of expression and sentimentality, but grief is among the hardest sentiments to conceal; he assumed a wounded front, the likes of being stricken by some unstinting bodily pain, and his hands extended like parachutes trying to collect his soul while it disassembled, a comportment I’ve only ever noticed in myself before, when I lost the dearest person in my life as a child. This interaction, which followed one embossing my social inadequacy, was exactly the type of interaction that displays that pith of human experience, that solemn existence, idiosyncratic and inscrutable. The inter-connectivity of our pains, the symbiosis of our joys, the elements that make the cruelty of the title of person not only bearable, but romantically worthwhile. And, strangely, I hold great gratitude to my initial error; it provided such a valuable discovery.

¹ Orlando, Virginia Woolf;
² And Yet The Books, Czesław Miłosz.

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

14 thoughts on “(Droplet) shortsock.

    1. Oh, I don’t think I did much for him in terms of soothing his views, but I took much from our talk, and he knows that I did. I suppose that, to him, might be of value.
      I’m mostly glad that I got to meet him.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I was reminded, upon reading this, of my own conversations with an elder woman named Vona, and her perspective borne of a different time. I’m glad you chose to share this experience. It is through sharing these moments that transcend time and individual experience, that we step into eternity. To quote David Eagleman, “There are three deaths…The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.” Thank you for helping Shortsock live on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keegan!, such a wonder to see you comment, one of the best indications that I’ve written something of worth;
      T’is true, and I’m afraid this social distance I’m often so committed in creating will most likely lead to my dissipation entirely, which is, by itself, a topic of discussion, as Sebald said once:
      “To set one’s name to a work gives no one a title to be remembered, for who knows how many of the best of men have gone without a trace? The iniquity of oblivion blindly scatters her poppyseed and when wretchedness falls upon us one summer’s day like snow, all we wish for is to be forgotten.”

      Simultaneously, I hunger for interaction, not so much for the act of becoming indelible of remembered, but to enjoy an indelible and remembered experience while I’m still alive.
      Regardless, I’m always deeply exulted by your presence. Please, return, as often as you can, as much as you’re able.
      Thank you so.


    1. You always have the dearest things to say, quality which envelops those with the strongest spirits.
      I’m glad to have enthralled you. I’m not as experienced in prose, but I’m glad I can weave a testimonial with enough poignancy to enthrall an experienced reader such as yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You really have succeeded at this because your words touch me. While reading your prose, which is, by the way, prose-poetry to me, I thought of that man in your story. He must have suffered a lot in his life. I am certainly much younger and, surely compared to him, don’t know what real pain is. But sometimes it is how you experience it. For me October 1, 2017 and October 14, 2019, will mark and are marking turning points in the history of Catalonia and Spain. How can the Spanish state send the police to beat up peaceful protesters, prosecute people for their ideas, imprison them and sentence innocent people to jail. In just one week, four people have lost one eye, each person, because of rubber balls shot by the Spanish police. I never thought this would happen. I believed Spain was a solid democracy, but no, the regime is turning more authoritarian each day. I wish I were Portuguese like you. At least, your people were saved from the Spanish colonisation. Our Catalan-Spanish conflict will never be resolved judicialising a political issue. We need international help, mediation. Please, watch this video and make it known to every one. We are not violent, we are not terrorists. It is the Spanish state that is constantly fabricating fake news. This is the truth: https://youtu.be/c04kj0nX688


      2. Of course, Marta! I’ve been accompanying everything; Portuguese newsstands are very supportive of the Catalonian struggle and your unstinting battle for liberty and independence, and I couldn’t be more in favour of your cause. I’ve many times visited Catalonia, much more than Spain, really, and I would love to share our little peninsula with our brothers of constellated cultures: Castile, Catalonia, Galacia and Basque. It is a timorous reality that all these deeply unique and cultural places are bound by the effacing despotism of “Spain”, we would all be happier together but under our individual rules, as individual but strongly close and connected countries.
        Alas, people are cruel, as this prose appointed. Too often cold, too often cruel.
        You have my undying support, Marta, you and your luminous Catalunha.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Muito obrigada pela sua mensagem. Eu amo tambem a terra portuguesa. Ja visitei o seu pais as veces e gostei muito das gentes. Wish my Portuguese was as good as my English. Yes, we are all brothers and sisters in the Iberian peninsula who just want to live in peace and freedom and not abused by a ruling oligarchy. O direito a liberdade deve ser igual para todos os povos.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Don’t worry, it was “perfeitamente legível”.
        I will always support Catalonia, and I truly do hope this ends peacefully and you are allowed you most-earned freedom.
        Thank you, Marta.

        Liked by 1 person

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