What if you opened your morning paper and found nothing but poems — lyrical and satirical, surrealistic and realistic — illustrated by photos straight from an art gallery?
What if your scrambled eggs rhymed with your orange juice, and your coffee made you think of a nightcrawler’s ladder into the earth?
What if your partner’s sleepy good morning lit up the kitchen, like a human-scaled version of the third verse of Genesis?
What if the house sparrows scrapping on the sidewalk seemed as worthy of attention as Odysseus and Achilles, and twice as heroic?
What if, when the sunrise hit your rearview mirror, you were to marvel at the daily coincidence of clarity and blindness?
What if the voices on the radio blended with the traffic noise like a stream into a river, the turbulent knowledge of particulars loosed into a more impartial capacity to reflect?
What if the bits of trash along the freeway were shards of a sky that has been busy falling for well over a century, while the whole world has been too distracted to notice?
What if the parking lot filling up with cars looked like one half of a balance sheet, and you made your way into work thinking, Here comes another eight hours of inventing new rules fast enough to keep people from noticing it’s just a game?
What if the fax machine’s incessant tongues of paper were really prayer flags, intended to intercede with the angels of grief?
What if the printers and photocopiers were retooled looms, weaving sails of paper, piecemeal, for some incessant Armada?
What if the tech support guy were an authentic guru, every one of his seemingly dry instructions pregnant with allegory?
What if the soft cubicle walls reminded you of albumen, and the clicking of keyboards sounded like the tapping of beaks against shells, under the florescent lights of an enormous incubator?
What if, every time someone inserted a card into a machine, some small animal on the other side of the earth died an anonymous death?
What if time were money?
What if all the potted plants were replaced with very slow moving, green mimes?
What if, in order to pass from room to room, you had to perform a small ritual that included striking your knuckles at chest level against a removable section of wall, naming yourself, turning a small wheel at navel height, and executing a brief dance with a large, flat slab of dead tree flesh?
What if you put in your two-week’s notice just for the novelty of the thing, and discovered to your surprise that you would miss your fellow workers in all their pettiness, their chemical odors and imperfect beauty?
What if you rested your forehead briefly on the steering wheel and remembered how it felt to be five years old?
What if the unplowed fields of corn stubble along the highway were graveyards for the wind, parceled out into individual breaths?
What if the names and numbers on the signs were all in a foreign language, imposed by conquest?
What if the car kept heading straight for home at a mile a minute, your arms and legs operating smoothly in its service while you sat and watched, incredulous as a child at a magic show?
What if you found the words for all these things, and said them, and instead of laughing, people thanked you for saying what they too had often felt but hadn’t really thought about until this moment?