Birgit Kempker

A Fly or A Hair

I was looking for the exit. Then I saw the hole. The hole was much too big. Besides, it wasn't alone. It reminded me of the hole where I came from and so on, and so heaven came to seem like a hole to me, in all its apparitions and imaginary forms. Even Swiss cheese was inside it, so yes, all that couldn't possibly be the exit. Even this yes, which I'd already used as an exit several times in the past, as a clever little hole to smuggle myself out, out of my connections, seemed exposed to me. I also looked into eyes, noses, ears, mouths and anuses, but even there no image of an exit appeared. I was angry then and would even have gone through exits which didn't appear.

I plowed the floor with the toe of my shoe, as I didn't want to step into a trap. I also didn't want to become bitter, so I laughed and took a few steps without plowing the floor, although I was itching to plunge my toe into the floor. I felt so much like a tightrope walker - without a net; I had this trapeze feeling, especially in churches, factories, and schools, whose floors were hard to plow. All my restraint, each step I took without plowing, was accepted with gratitude by the floor in question. That made me shake. The more I was ashamed, the more my fear grew, and I took more and more steps without plowing the floor. The floor shivered with gratitude. I shivered with it and no longer thought about traps.

I brushed my thoughts under the carpet with my toe. It wasn't hard - there was already dirt everywhere, and I added mine to it. I alternately plowed, smiled without plowing, and brushed under the carpet. This three-step calmed me. Men, brooms, and radiators were visible, some wearing pullovers, others clocks. It was the land of habit, of the waltz. I turned around. The objects piled up. I stroked chairs, tables, and beds; nothing could hide how much the floor and everything on it seemed like an illusion, and thus - rather than a kind of hill - like a foot trap.

Fear gripped me with every step. I draped the carpet over the fear. I found comfort and culture in the three-step. I saw all kinds of garbage in the crack, although a glacier or an eagle above the glacier was nowhere to be seen. I looked into the cup and what I saw there was opening and liquid. I saw greed and transport and wouldn't have been surprised by gas and zeppelin. Then I saw the crocodile and the Nile. I saw fine sand. The sand rose up in front of me. I laughed. Was I standing on sand? Was I standing on a crocodile? I fell over. I had no time for fear. It was a balancing act. Worlds rose up in front of me. Once I fell into a yellow tractor; the landscape was very close to me and I cried.

And I fell into the heather. The heather was pink and soft. It was very comfortable there. Sick of falling over, I baked bread. I baked bread for the hungry spirits, too, throwing it over my shoulder to them with every step. The fear waned. While in the forest, I ran into moss and hedgehog with my toe. The animals ate my bread. There was no dirt in the forest, and no carpet either, and few thoughts. But there were traps. The traps weren't for me, because I wasn't an animal. I forgot that and screamed all night, caught in the net high in the trees. The owl watched. I didn't bite a hole in the net. I was too high up. I was white as a sheet. I wasn't an honor to my sex. The deer closed its eyes when the animal killer arrived.

The animal killer's wife gave me milk from pots she'd purchased. The animal killer didn't look at me. I pretended I was mute. The woman gave me the last animal's fur. I put it around my neck. Maybe that was betrayal. My shoulders no longer hurt and, with the fur around my neck, I left the woman. A goat wanted to nurse me. I looked for the exit and ran into pots. The pots were richly decorated, from many epochs. I could've stayed there on the ground, squatting and studying. I'd have heard the call of the mothers. I'd have known soil and collecting. I spat the offer out.

Hubris was in play. Hardly did I reach for the stars and I was standing on asphalt. Chewing gum was sown on the asphalt. I deepened the pattern with my heel. I had come to like staying close to the ground. Chewing, sticking, strawberry flavor, vanilla, I slid on a genuine wave of affection across the asphalt I was just sticking to. The chewing gum kept my mouth occupied, sucked the rage out of my jaw; spat out, it made a pattern which limited me above and below. It was a festival of molecules, a Molotov cocktail in the Moloch of organs and ornaments, for everything was happening in the city, was brewing.

Baal appeared, made of styrofoam. I hated Brecht's voice and the sound of styrofoam. I was in the middle of the jungle of comparisons. I also saw Romans, Egyptians, Tibetans, and Celts. All of them had gods. The arrangement of the gods, their pattern, was as comforting as wallpaper. But it wasn't enough comfort. Besides, comfort is distracting. Suddenly I hated comfort. I accused it of being a trap. It bored me, too. Wallpaper should have come to me earlier. I kicked my toe at every single comfort. Then the gods fell and lay around in disorder. I looked for the exit. I got caught in the carpet. I looked for schnapps in order to get closer to the earth. I'd lost my way.

As a punishment, I had to see long rows of dazzling containers. They weren't for me. Shining, they enchanted me. They said they were made of foam. I didn't care about the material. I stood in front of them and felt like I was inside, the spirit in the bottle looking for the exit, even if I was quite different then. This plunged me into confusion. Was I looking for the entrance? The neck of the bottle hurt me. I grabbed for the fur. Plastic bottle, amphora, cup, vase: I lost myself in the study of the containers. Many names came to mind. None of them grabbed me. Nothing stirred my sense of history.
God appeared, our people looked upwards. The mood was tepid. It was so close to being one of those moments when you'd like to drop your pants. I looked for the exit. Then I saw that a few people had dropped their pants. They made me drowsy with their song. They moled and scurried around me with food and drink. They wrapped me in blankets. I was supposed to feel like I was among brothers and sisters. But I'd already had enough. I brooked no delay. I heard my grandmother say nothing would be found by looking, nothing. So I stopped.

Then I had a lot of time and looked for something to do. I cowered on the ground and groused. I no longer moved from the spot. I meditated. I was determined to not cut a good figure. I was determined to not feed my ego and to not be angry, not even when angered. I did not know who my ego was. It was some kind of ape. I tried to not think about it so as to not think about looking for the exit, so as to listen to my grandmother. I cut a very bad figure. I had fun with the ape. I stank to high heaven, it couldn't go on like this.

I looked around and saw that the others were doing something. It was art. It seemed justified and appropriate to me to do something the others would go past when they looked for the exit. Going through factories, churches, and schools, I touched my toe to places where they were to put down what I had made. Gentlemen and ladies lost in the contemplation of art were there, and radiators, television people, and cleaning ladies. I wasn't alone. One day I would make a soup tureen and drown in it. I understood that I was a fly, or a hair.

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