Index Cards

Douglas Crets
3 min readJan 10, 2022


Morning nudges me awake when a cold rain scratches the bedroom window with tiny rat feet.

I arise without stress. Normally, I need no wake up call. There is no need for an alarm clock and the surging cortisone levels of shock that it induces.

I create a coffee by boiling water and grinding beans in a small ceramic grinder.

The separating reminds me of the long life we endure and our eventual separation from the husk of our earthly form. Arise, soul. I release thee from the confinements that transport you through the elements.

Now elements you become.

I sit at the terminal on the wood desk, positioning myself in the soft fabric of my office chair. The window is closed but the curtains are drawn apart.

I put on one sock and another. I face windward. I estimate 10 knots of wind. It pushes against the apartment window, which now appears to be like isinglass from the cold rain sent against it by the northeastern monsoon.

The horizon has not opened. The sky squats over us traveling below it, a silent metal hatch closed flush against the roof of the mountains. Somewhere the sun is crawling upwards behind it. Or the earth is dipping eastward, accepting the mantle of day.

A chill moves through me as I shuffle the morning’s index cards. I scan them, looking for linguistic waypoints that will guide my mind through that morning’s artistic decisions. How will the artist begin his lithography of the consciousness? What was etched into the wax of sleep? What observation will be peeled away after the chemicals wash the foundation?

I lay down the rubber mat and begin to etch quietly with a small chisel tool. My stylus attempts to create a new page for the codex I trail behind the boat each day.

My toes itch as I work.

I sense something is watching me as I chisel, careful not to wake my wife, or the guests who have slept here this last night.

I take each word and reveal.

No terminology exists readymade for the human animal. We have perfected a harmonic utterance of grunts and whistles. One can say our speech is a monotone music of need, confusion, and astonishment.

The sentences we use are reflections of unspoken urgings in each other. We assemble them, and broadcast them for one another. In our speech, we cast mouth surveys into the utter dark, and the listener scans that sky in him for a constellation.

Each correspondent is like a spinnaker drawing in sail, rocking on the sea of waiting.

We look for some words of illumination. At times, we feel blindly for words of sympathy, accord, refusal, desire.

Never the real thing emerges. Never the codex.

Only a hastily scrawled navigation map, written on diaphanous parchment. The wind rises and gasps.

The ocean slaps against the hull of our boat.

Despite the scratching of my stylus, no answer surfaces. After taking ink from the ocean and pressing my birch relief block against another sheaf of papers, I put away my tools.

I add these pressings to the others.

I bind them. Another wrapping of rubber bands and string. I encase them in plastic, to protect them from the elements, and tie them to the side of my boat.

My boat sails, keeping course, it’s bales of paper trailing in the luminescent froth.

Waiting for a new day and new uttering to guide me home, I reach behind for for the tiller.

Birds from some unseen island dip into the wake and feed.