The Playground 

The mother took her son to the playground. It had a lime-green hill of new grass, a blueberry sky, a lemon sun, cherry-red monkey bars, a marmalade merry-go-round, and a raspberry jungle gym. A brawny youth with bad hair was pushing a bloodless face into the sand below the monkey bars while others cheered in ecstasy. Not long after he was chasing a girl and lifting up her skirt to the sound of more cheers. What is this? the little boy asked, feeling cold as if gravity itself had run away. That, my son, is the organizing principle of the world. It will be like that where you work, where you play, where you vote, and where you pray, the mother explained. When she looked over, her son was taller, maybe even stronger, but it did not matter, for it lasted but a second. She was walking away. The youth gazed at the brawling and shouting, at the radiant machinery of play, chewing a piece of straw, whispering one question to nobody in particular. Where should I go? The wind and the emptiness heard him. They spoke of other places. Rusted old libraries. Museums of copper sulfate. The tarnished squares. The ashen junkyard. The black woods and fields. 


Strolling through the blazing wheatfields, the thief praised the glory of nature and the beauty of the blue skies and golden grain. One by one, he plucked the ears, and dreamed of the universe, how it was made of grain and sand, some 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 seeds scattered across the black empyrean. And he dreamed of that moment when the little stones of light, invisible to the eye, collided to create the moon, sun and stars. And the moment the first atoms made plankton and grass, and then the grass made trees. And the plankton made tadpoles, which became larvae and diseases, which changed into scarabs, which begot salamanders, who engendered frogs, fish, calamaria, and sharks, who turned into birds, who became dogs, and the dogs brought forth the deer, the giraffe, the oxen, the camels, the hippopotami, the bear, the jackal, the ape and the human. It would have been wonderful to see man or woman strike flints to see the first spark, for sparks are also like seeds, like grains, like little stones and drops of water. With his hand full of grain, the thief stopped to gaze into the sky. Beyond the cypress trees, a flock of black birds circled, as if forming an eye gazing into eternal emptiness. Nothing can be made of nothing, the thief whispered, his heart almost frozen. The wind blew the grains of wheat into the air, they circled like the birds, and then they were gone.