Stablish the thing, O God, that thou hast wrought in me; permit me not to return to my vomit, nor ever to rebuild the Jericho I have destroyed.
- Peter of Blois, ca. 1185 AD
It's always worst when it rains all night. Then there's no question of curling up illicitly next to a radiator somewhere, drying up slowly like an alcoholic in the Kalahari; when it rains all night, fungus creeps into every dusty moist cavity. It creates a scent impossible to dislodge without dropping precious rubles on a drycleaner, and then I have to stand naked waiting while grim blonde women pick up their pantsuits. (Just because I'm naked doesn't mean they can't elbow past me). The cold is not so bad. The sneers aren't either; mostly, it's the shabbily dressed ones that are the most resentful. I suspect it's because they know that poverty, like a kiss or a beating, ought to be earned.
I did not earn mine. I chose it. I have not found myself an amphora, like Diogenes, but then I don't need one. I have always lacked spirit enough to turn my house into a home, but my home was always elsewhere (The apparition of wet, black boughs; faces in a crowd). Now I live inside the hyphen between A and B, a tramp on a tramp, and I don't take charity unless it's cigarettes or eyes from a pretty girl who thinks I am drunk and scary, she would be wounded in her heart if she discovered I wouldn't follow her home for a million cash. No cockeyed Cockney would mistake me for a guv'nor, but no one blames me for oppressing them either. They think I am to be pitied; I've yet to figure that one out.
I suspect no one here thinks me a sympathetic figure, though I don't know what I look like anymore. My brown suit has grown baggy from repeated tearing; I like to think that each additional stain adds a layer of protection against powers elemental and sentient. In a sea of faded Chinese knockoffs, it is reassuring to own it. I am probably the last bearer of its long-forgotten luxury brand, which makes me feel like Roland in the country of the Moors.
Moors they may as well be. I have returned to a cold and uninviting womb, but I do not regret it.