Lincoln in the Bardo

More comfortable? It is soon to be spring   The Christmas toys barely played with   I have a glass soldier whose head can turn   The epaulettes interchangeable   Soon flowers will bloom   Lawrence from the garden shed will give us each a cup of seeds
I am to wait   I said
willie lincoln
 

The above is an excerpt from Lincoln in the Bardo,   published by Bloomsbury UK and Audible UK. It speaks! At your considerable—
roger bevins iii
 
Come now, no need to speak of—

 hans vollman
 
The other man (the one hit by a beam)   Quite naked   Member swollen to the size of   Could not take my eyes off
It bounced as he
Body like a dumpling   Broad flat nose like a sheep’s
Quite naked indeed
Awful dent in the head   How could he walk around and talk with such a nasty—
willie lincoln
 
Presently we found ourselves joined by the Reverend Everly Thomas. Somewhere? But we soon saw that there was no hope for us, and so (to race past a few details, and stops-and-starts, and fresh beginnings, and heartfelt resolutions, and betrayals of those resolutions, there, in one corner of the, ah, carriage house, and so on), one afternoon, a day or so after a particularly frank talk, in which Gilbert stated his intention to henceforth ‘live correctly’, I took a butcher knife to my room and, after writing a note to my parents (I am sorry, was the gist), and another to him (I have loved, and therefore depart fulfilled), I slit my wrists rather savagely over a porcelain tub. And yet spoke, as he always speaks, with the utmost calmness and good sense. hans vollman
 
‘Bevins’ had several sets of eyes   All darting to and fro   Several noses   All sniffing   His hands (he had multiple sets of hands, or else his hands were so quick they seemed to be many) struck this way and that, picking things up, bringing them to his face with a most inquisitive
Little bit scary
In telling his story he had grown so many extra eyes and noses and hands that his body all but vanished   Eyes like grapes on a vine   Hands feeling the eyes   Noses smelling the hands
Slashes on every one of the wrists. hans vollman
 
The newcomer was a boy of some ten or eleven years. With gusto! hans vollman
 
Who arrived, as he always arrives, at a hobbling sprint, eyebrows arched high, looking behind himself anxiously, hair sticking straight up, mouth in a perfect O of terror. hans vollman
 
Many apologies, young sir. hans vollman
 
Yes. Will I follow my predilection? Early in my youth I found I had a certain predilection which, to me, felt quite natural and even wonderful, but to others – my father, mother, brothers, friends, teachers, clergy, grandparents – my predilection did not seem natural or wonderful at all, but perverse and shameful, and hence I suffered: must I deny my predilection, and marry, and doom myself to a certain, shall we say, dearth of fulfillment? roger bevins iii
 
Feeling ‘nauseous at the quantity of blood’, you ‘settled yourself woozily down on the floor’ and ‘changed your mind’. I am waiting to be discovered (having come to rest on the floor, head against the stove, upended chair nearby, sliver of an orange peel against my cheek), so that I may be revived, and rise, and clean up the awful mess I have made (Mother will not be pleased), and go outside, into that beautiful world, a new and more courageous man, and begin to live! roger bevins iii
 
A newcomer? Available to buy now from Audible, Bloomsbury and Amazon. From there, I managed to crawl into the kitchen—
Which is where I remain. I only meant, in my way, to welcome you. the reverend everly thomas
 
Wait for what? Then all three laughed   With much clapping of the many-eyed man’s many hands   And waggling of Mr Sheep-Dumpling’s swollen member   Even the Reverend laughed   Though, laughing, he still looked frightened
In any event, they will not stay long, said Mr Sheep-Dumpling. willie lincoln
 
The newcomer sat on the roof of his sick-house, staring down in wonder at Mr Bevins. I will! Mr Vollman said. All the while wishing themselves elsewhere, said the many-eyed man. I believe we have the honor of addressing a Mr Carroll, Mr Bevins said. The lad only looked at us blankly. All is well. To collect me   Mr Sheep-Dumpling shook his head sadly   His member also shook   Sadly
They may come, said the many-eyed man. Having come so close to losing everything, I am freed now of all fear, hesitation, and timidity, and, once revived, intend to devoutly wander the earth, imbibing, smelling, sampling, loving whomever I please; touching, tasting, standing very still among the beautiful things of this world, such as, for example: a sleeping dog dream-kicking in a tree-shade triangle; a sugar pyramid upon a blackwood tabletop being rearranged grain-by-grain by an indiscernible draft; a cloud passing ship-like above a rounded green hill, atop which a line of colored shirts energetically dance in the wind, while down below in town, a purple-blue day unfolds (the muse of spring incarnate), each moist-grassed, flower-pierced yard gone positively mad with—
roger bevins iii
 
Friend. roger bevins iii
 
You are. Fearful of his punishment, he had not the nerve to step inside; I found him leaning against the door for what warmth he could gain in that way, stunned, guilty, nearly insensate with cold. My mother, I said. said Mr Bevins. Mona Thinking only of lunch, said the Reverend. They will come shortly. Friend. An urge? roger bevins iii
 
No doubt you are feeling a certain pull? the reverend everly thomas
 
Resembling a fish who, having washed ashore, lies immobile and alert, acutely aware of its vulnerability. I believe you are somewhat alarming our new arrival. I feel I am to wait, the boy said. said the Reverend. hans vollman
 
Occasionally stealing an amazed glance over at you, sir. Knowing that my only hope was to be found by one of the servants, I stumbled to the stairs and threw myself down. A handsome little fellow, blinking and gazing cautiously about him. Feeling nauseous at the quantity of blood and its sudden percussive redness against the whiteness of the tub, I settled myself woozily down on the floor, at which time I – well, it is a little embarrassing, but let me just say it: I changed my mind. Bevins. My father. At which time I changed my mind. hans vollman
 
Am I – am I doing it again? I wished to be happy (as I believe all wish to be happy), and so undertook an innocent – well, a rather innocent – friendship with a fellow in my school. hans vollman
 
Putting me in mind of a nephew of mine who had once fallen through the ice of the river and come home chilled to the bone. To go? Photograph © Des D. Take a breath. Mr Sheep-Dumpling said. Only then (nearly out the door, so to speak) did I realize how unspeakably beautiful all of this was, how precisely engineered for our pleasure, and saw that I was on the brink of squandering a wondrous gift, the gift of being allowed, every day, to wander this vast sensual paradise, this grand marketplace lovingly stocked with every sublime thing: swarms of insects dancing in slant-rays of August sun; a trio of black horses standing hock-deep and head-to-head in a field of snow; a waft of beef broth arriving breeze-borne from an orange-hued window on a chill autumn—
roger bevins iii
 
Sir. But I doubt they will collect you. Feeling nauseous at the quantity of blood and its sudden percussive redness against the whiteness of the tub, I settled myself woozily down on the floor.