​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

john parras


​his face, sunlight came down through the triangular windows, veils all over the windows, yellow and pink rosebushes climbing. He was hauntingly eloquent on the guitar. Since his arrival two years ago, she wore clinging skirts and blouses with romantic sleeves. She walked to the sign, leaving the door open wide, as if to show he was not lying. It was then he realized he had been uncomfortable among so many Indians, though he knew they hadn't done business just to make Gopal feel strange. It made him think they put themselves into wild confusion about their bodies and sex and babies and, disgusted, he pushed them away. But he also thought they should be forgiven, as in 1936, when he'd gone to a war and come back married to a taut place. That bird didn't fly though, and he wound up sixty years later gasping, locked inside, the marks or footprints nothing but old tracks. He pulled a nickel and the penny from the box, beneath a clutter of folded newspaper clippings. He couldn't change the flat green box whose little compartments spilled a waterfall of memories. He shook her hand. She was tiny and wore sandals and asked now what they should do, she really wanted to see her father's pissy trousers smother her. Beyond the window, tenants set out flowers and special shrubs, and that was the tedious thing for one familiar with the respiratory systems of fish. When he finally lifted the concentration and inspected it under the diagnostic light, skin pulled taut against his knuckles. Just that morning she had chosen to hurt you, he thought. And it was true; he hadn't put the compound in his mind's eye as a melting structure, a magnificent sign, a country unto itself, its manicured course as pristine and creepy as the picture of Rhazes--the father of Arabic medicine--lit with oil lamps. The patients were being tended by tan and swollen hands like sheets billowing on a clothesline. David (the painter) hadn't ever heard anybody say that grief started it. He needed to recoup this loss, this stuff organized into the details of the story itself, but also the circumstances in which they read medical chapters to another aloud at bedtime, their voices resounding like ghosts in the gorgeous, decrepit candlelight.

A National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow in Prose, John Parras is the author of Fire on Mount Maggiore (University of Tennessee Press, 2005), which won the Peter Taylor Prize for the novel. His creative work has appeared in Conjunctions, Salmagundi, Painted Bride Quarterly, Xconnect, Oasis and other literary journals, and his chapbook Dangerous Limbs: Prose Poems and Flash Fictions (2013) is published by Kattywompus Press.