It occurs to me that if I were using a manual typewriter these days, I would, like the literary oddball Marcel Proust, have to work in a cork-lined room — except that Proust didn’t use a typewriter. Proust used a pen. And I’m sure it was a special kind of pen, quiet and costly and smooth, and perhaps even designed for his personal use.

Proust’s cork was to keep sound out, whereas I would need it to keep sound in. Using a computer keyboard, though, I am able to work while someone sleeps in the very same room — which, of course, brings to mind an interesting scene: a writer sitting at his computer in a roomful of sleepers — a sleepers’ ward, if you will, where the world’s weary are committed when life becomes too real. The room is lit only by the computer’s monitor. How the writer comes to be in this situation is a mystery. Perhaps he was once a patient. Or maybe he is a doctor, driven mad by the proximity of so many sleepers. At first, the breathing bothers him, the snoring and moaning, the gasping, grinding, and smacking. In time, though, he comes to marvel at these sounds, and to love them as much as if they were crickets and frogs in a marsh. Then he comes to rely on them, to need them — to the point of desperation, laughter, and insanity, all of which he types onto his screen so as not to wake anyone. He loses his voice. He works twenty-four-hour shifts, seven days a week. Visitors aren’t allowed. Visitors are kept waiting in a huge outer room, where they wait so long that they, too, end up sleeping.

I read somewhere that someone said that when he appeared in public, Proust looked like a wounded crow. I also read that after Proust died, his cork was purchased by a distillery because of its superb quality. How many people can say that? How many would want to?

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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