Today Mr. Rufo died. During a game of bocce ball,
he leaned on his friend's shoulder and died.
Just five minutes before we found out, Jon and I
had been walking with our dumb, bourgeois fruit smoothies,
and we stopped by a bush that had all these purple flowers
bursting out of it, and I said, Look how the dead flowers
are a darker purple, a bluish blackish purple
and the live flowers are magenta. Do you think
the dead flowers used to be magenta, or did all
the darker purple flowers die first?
(The dead flowers crumpled closed like soggy
paper umbrellas, while the live ones stretched open, each
like a child's hand reaching—)
Afterwards, all the family came and assembled and
sat outside together on the patio. For days, I did not see
Mrs. Rufo. She must have been inside the house
all that time. Meanwhile a big yellow garden spider
built his web above the plot of dirt and weeds
and wildish plants that's just beside their outside staircase.
It's true that spiders are noiseless, I realized,
watching the spider in its nonstop industry, listening to the spider.
All of us have read "A noiseless patient spiderů"
but to hear, really, that absence of sound
is something altogether different. Because the soundlessness
is transparent and shaped like a geometric plane.
It casts a silent white shadow that's bigger
than the spider is big, and when the spider dies,
the silence that replaces its silence
is bigger than the spider's silence was big.