Whispering Into The Ear Of The Statue Of Your Choice What You Really Think About Things Is Almost Like Talking To Someone

by John Gallaher

There are two life-size statues in front of our building sitting on a

marble bench. They remind me of those "from-life" statues you

sometimes see in malls or other public places, of a family out for

a shop or a person reading the paper. The point is: this is a public

place, let’s celebrate ourselves a little. A kind of hallucination that

our dailiness is worth celebrating, because, well, maybe it is. We’ve

as much claim to the future as anyone else, except that we don’t now

have a place to sit in front of our building. Well, one of us does, as

there’s room for one (or maybe two if they don’t mind a tight fit) to

sit between them, which often happens. The guy on one end is a 1907

student, reading a book on steam engines, while the woman on the

other end is a 2007 student typing on a laptop, which are the types of

hallucinations people with migraines or people who are going blind

or who have gone blind often have: random people doing their thing

that has nothing to do with you. It’s a kind of consolation prize for

some, and terror to others, depending on what the hallucinations are

doing. Usually, though, it’s ornate costumes and a flair for antiquity.

Why that should be a common theme for hallucinations, they haven’t

yet worked up much of a theory, but it’s enough for me to work up

a kind of jealousy. The light show fireworks, the zig-zags and impossibly

pure colors. I’ve always gotten headaches, and all I get is pain, a vise-

grip behind the ears trying to pop my head. So that even now, talking

about it, I can feel the headache approach, as if I could will it. I don’t

will it. I just want these statues to get on with it, whatever it is, to claim

the land or not, to stand, to talk about their pet goldfish or whisper back

that the afterlife is ornate. Anything. There’s nothing for them to say,

though, as they could have easily been made instead into copper wire

or fancy drain spouts. Still, they have these faces. So we do the talking

for them, the way we do for our pets, in a cute voice, right, because

the voiceless always get cute voices, so I might as well say something

for them. They seem like they could use it. I could have them tell us,

as locked in what we are, we’re all alone in precisely the same way.

John Gallaher is the author of five books, most recently Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (with GC Waldrep) and In a Landscape, both from BOA Editions. He the co-editor of The Akron Series in Poetics and The Laurel Review, and the collection Time Is a Toy: The Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt.