Now and then a clang of metal hitting asphalt, or a single shout escapes the nocturnal distance. The carnival is being dismantled. It's about the same distance as the freeway, but more east rather than southwest. The freeway is mostly quiet this time of night, so the sound of rides and booths being taken down can be more easily heard. It is Monday morning, dawn is yet a few hours away.
For years I spent nights wandering quiet streets, so I'm familiar with the way sound carries at this time, and of the crispness of the night air in fall. Dismantling carnival rides is the sort of job I might have done had I been more agile and mechanically adept. Now it's a past that never happened.
The past that did happen is vague now, as mysterious as those that didn't, as unintelligible as the called words I can't make out from the disassemblers of the carnival. The past's incinerated words haunt me with their absence. They are like sounds that the night air carries but that carry no meaning. Obscurity prevails. For a moment the mockingbird wakes and sends me a few brief songs, then returns to silence. In the morning the carnival will be gone, the cracked, grey parking lot as empty as my memory. I will still have no idea what the mockingbird's songs meant.
Under One Small Star
by Wislawa Szymborska
My apologies to chance for calling it necessity
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
you gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man.
I know that I won't be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.