Akhil Seven

The first time I heard Neurosis, years ago, I was struck by how strange the music seemed. It frightened me, I felt unhinged. Neurosis is well made metal, operatic, muscular and utterly bleak. The songs, sometimes ten minutes long, are black on black. It reminds me of what I imagine might be considered desolation in Romania: sparse, rolling hills in night-time. Earlier in the summer, when my body seemed to literally to be shaking itself apart with grief, metal coming home in the truck made good sense. I couldn't handle Neurosis, though. Now, months later, with the headphones, it propels me. I can manage an eight hour day.

Now, in the west end, I'm ready to kneel east on a prayer mat and offer thanks to each and every god in the off chance I might strike on the one that chose to come down and kill this summer. The garage I've set up shop in, building bookshelves this week, faces southeast and has cooked me for a month. The place is mostly finished, but unoccupied, and I've been there long enough to know each well-preserved trophy wife, to wave to them and their specialty dogs. The development has suffered from the economy, less than a third of the units are occupied. It is decidedly high-end; empty Charleston style row-houses and empty mock-Georgians. There are no children.

The first couple of weeks out I ran crown molding, alone, through the whole upstairs. I kept thinking of a vignette from Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, in which two astronauts are captured on Mars and kept in a place fabricated like a small southern town from Earth. It was populated my Martians disguised as humans, who behaved as if they had known the Earthlings all their lives, and were kind to them, so they actually believed they were back home. At the end of the block I'm on there's a fountain in the middle of a huge pond, surrounded by acres of dirt. Sometimes after a good hard rain, the fountain erupts the color of mud. Most days there this hot summer the sky has been pale and clear, a washed out blue.

Across from the garage is a pair of massive empty concrete slabs, a project that looks to be on hold indefinitely. Bordered at one perimeter with bulging silt fences, then orange safety fence by a line of loblolly pines. They shoot straight up, having establishing minimal limbs as they jostled with each other to form a forest. Now on the sudden, ragged edge bordering our mud lots, they look naked, gangly and tall, brides stripped bare by their suiters.

My music and my landscape. I get what I can out of my body. I start each morning with metal, I almost dance while I work. I run through the house, a carpenter again, moving fast. I am angry and that is okay. It is anger that drives me. I see the pines and remember my own woods in Georgia, a small brown haired boy, maybe ten, out in them alone all day. This morning I smoked out on the slab, with this music in my ears that still frightens me. It is music that is pendulous and brooding and then explodes. I know it for what it is now, a dirge, it is the white hot origin of pain in darkness, it is the sound of my own raw origin, I know where it comes from and why. The sky was low and gray and fast, the first cool morning of fall finally arrived, I stood with rusted rebar bent into gravel and mud, listening, waiting for epiphany to either cut me down or else flood me with violent rapture.