Thick clouds of foreboding in the air. Spiders climb the stairs to their lofts. Every weed edges close to another green. And so the hours go— the ones we can never get back. Nothing to do but let the rain wash your face. Let the clap of thunder sound like a stirring.
Can't count how many times people have said they can't believe you don't know how to swim— An island girl like you? How to explain that ringed by water didn't mean ticket to the local country club, the only place then where one could join groups of chlorinated children in their summer rituals: as guest, not born to, no silver pacifier in the mouth. Though you're still afraid of water anytime it rises above your chin, you learn other versions of treading— resistance against indifference to your subjectivity, your speech, your body and manner of cleaving a path one arrow, one stroke at a time.
Were you born alone or did you grow up with others? As soon as you gained some sense of discernment, could spell your name and recite the alphabet, read books (what is a chapter book anyway?), were you taught to run your fingers down the roster of words in both dictionary and telephone directory? In an emergency, were you capable of calling the family doctor's number and summoning him, through tears? Come quickly, I think someone here may be dying. You knew the smell of fruit pinched too soon off the branch, of blood bundled into rags and tossed in the trash; the look of skins palpated for fulness or its lack. When you became more shy and introverted, you could understand why others found you strange for preferring prisms blown from soap and the sap of pounded hibiscus leaves. You didn't always remember the distinction between latrine and labyrinth, cold brew and plain iced coffee. But it pleased you when your tongue could unlock the undertones: vanilla, five spice, orange peel, extra anise.
- after "When the Universe granted my prayer I didn't want it anymore," Natalie d'Arbeloff; acrylic on canvas board, 10 x 14 inches After the multiplexes and carnivals closed for good, I learned to build little rafts out of brittle waffle cones patched together with leftover sunscreen and saltwater taffy. If some dudes managed to rig wire and feathers to their arms with honey and beeswax, why couldn't I use my own native resources? But looking out over the lip of my wobbly Ferris wheel saucer, I realized water might be the only way left to go. No one wanted to get on a plane anymore since runways and airport terminals were littered with the bones of negative pressure room tents. Sometimes, streaked by moonlight, they looked like giant blue cocoons whose flaps were shredded in a gale. The air inside had long left the building— perhaps, also the ghosts that once curled up on cots. I'd prayed for a destination that wasn't here, yet not too far in the there, there of ambiguous reassurance. I remembered some of the things we used to say to each other—like the one about the world being your oyster; or how the endless horizon means beyond imagining or don't look back.
why do people make it sound like their sufferings are caused by the whims of the majority why should we call them hate crimes when there aren't any joy or sadness crimes how long do you want to keep chewing on the same bone what's wrong with wanting to make money why can't you just move on and get over it why don't you look for the good in things for a change
We were living inside one unending elegy— tunnel beaded with concertina wire, spattered with graffiti: with words like worker for slave, involuntary relocation for slavery, pacification for war. Controlled intake, recalibrate: the long arms of disinformation reached with stump- bristled brushes, relentless battering, a bent to normalize the condition of wounding. Ceilings still hummed with the echo of machines from a million T-shirt and gym shoe factories around the world, with live looping reels of caged animals eating cutely from our hands. Ditches filled with oil- slicked birds. Sadly, we participated. And so what was coming had mostly come. This is what happened. We were so sure we could see it coming until we couldn't. It all happened so fast.
"I often think there is a tree inside me." ~ Sean Thomas Dougherty Along the walk to the building where I teach, towering magnolias are putting forth blossoms, though blossom doesn't seem to be the right word for the large, ivory-skirted cup that opens so you can smell its dense musk before you see the clutch of spent matchsticks at its center. In childhood, we learned proverbs about the bamboo: how its thickets quickly surround you and are difficult to cut down, because they know how to bend and let the winds have their way. Is that what I'm supposed to be? If I were a tree or if there was a tree growing inside me, I'd want it to catch the last light every day before the world darkens. I'd want that light to hold inside me even when the wood crackles from drought, even when flames erupt out of every limb leathered from the effort to keep flowering, rooting.
(Ithaca, NY) The distance between planets multiplied by the factors of human space plus detritus of time. The obelisk of the sun and its round window without glass— What the markers don't say is you can't tether a galaxy to your wrist the way you loop the ribbon of a grocery store balloon around the hand of a child.
Lenses stacked on lenses are supposed to make a clearer field for the eye to see, to make a beam from a lighthouse carry through fog and rain. There is a village of little red glass houses with slate blue roofs, above which is gathered and poised a storm of daggers. By the side of a road, a dark flock of carrion birds tears at flesh and drinks ruby shards of blood. In an atrium flooded with celadon light, a string of blown glass beads hangs from the ceiling's invisible neck. What else of our broken or breakable lives enters into this archive, without our consent?
After a day of driving, arrival in the valley. Night's dark meadow is scattered with no gleam, though you know there are lights there, like teeth clinging stubborn to their buttress beneath the gums. What's trapped in the marble of the bones doesn't give itself up easily. It remembers every fracture, every instance when it nearly leaped out of your skin. The lake is calm as glass until receding rays stripe it coral. Carp bodies part clouds of silt and kelp, oily and verdigrised. You don't know what it is they keep returning to at the bottom, only that it pulls them away almost as soon as they touch the clear jade upper layers.