Not merely beautiful, but altogether Beauty, so I averted my eyes.
Beauty, so I shut them tight.
Beauty, so I covered my face with my hands.
Beauty, so I found myself prostrate on the floor.
Beauty, so I was rolling out the door, hands still covering my face lest I accidentally open my eyes for even an instant.
Beauty, so I was stumbling sideways down the street.
Beauty, so even at the subway station, and on the long elevator down, and then in the train hurtling through blasted-out rock tunnels, I was unable to not feel it, sometimes as steady-approaching-unbearable, other times in bright, excruciating bursts.
Checking the blinking digital sign, I was relieved to read the destination “HELL,” figuring that this would be the farthest from Beauty I could possibly get, but it turned out to be only a local stop.
Nevertheless, when the automatic doors hissed open, I staggered out and started crawling off in a random direction, heading, I hoped, for the farthest corner, if there was a corner, where I could curl up into something like a ball and cover my face again, which I was almost immediately able to do, hell proving to be no less limited than it was proximate.
I’ve hunkered down now for many eternities, but because Beauty is apparently equidistant to all locations, the only relief is my self-generated haze of quasi-numbness, full of static and exhausting to induce.
This is not a topic I can recall radio talk show hosts having brought up for discussion--“What To Do About Beauty!”-- nor had it made the front page of any newspaper I’d ever read.
Wolf Blitzer had neglected to mention it, and while there’d been a warning signal for tornado alerts, I don’t recollect any public service announcements about an alarm pattern for impending Beauty—three short blasts and a long one, for instance--let alone practical instructions—perhaps instinctively, I’d resorted to the “stop, drop, and roll” strategy appropriate to the occasion of being engulfed in flames.
And so here I crouch, cramped inside the fog that is my pitiful simulation of distance, listening to the reverberation of eternities around me while I labor to summon up courage for the agonizing journey of return.