You said you would come as far as the bridge. But I am here at the bridge, which is truly isolated, though it commands a great view. And you are nowhere in sight. It occurs to me now that we have been trying to meet for twenty-eight or forty-one or three years. It seems very vague, doesn’t it, against the idea of human number. Up against the scant idea of number. I can’t remember if I knew you before I was born or before you were. But that’s why there is no year to this or any other hour with you.
But here I am at the bridge and I am reckoning what a bridge is. This one is old. It is wood and it is splintery. Insects have burrowed deep within it as the human soul has burrowed in poetry. I pick at some of the wood and pull it off. Wooden fingernails. I drop them into the creek below.
The sky is violet as you are.
You said you would come as far as the bridge. But you are not here. Did you want me to know this bridge? Is that the real intent?
I make my soul a dovecote
In the morning before I put on my makeup
And put on my animals’ makeup
You have broken my heart. You were not at the agreed upon place where we were to meet. Am I using too many words in a sentence? I know that is a symptom of a larger problem. “Where we were to meet.” I am eating craisins from a small foil package to assuage my nervousness. Admittedly, this is not an attractive sight. But I cannot see myself externally, except in sentences. There is nothing here. A frozen lake….or pond. Whatever. And a telephone pole. Are you going to murder me? Should I run before you get here? Or will you never get here? I saw headlights but it was a mirage.
You have broken my liver.
You see, there is a pond and a telephone pole
“You see” is the vernacular
It is the language of the immigrant just off the boat
So polite, softening the blow
Or the one explaining to the one stepping off the boat
The condescending or begging side of it
That is our patriotism
A pond and a telephone pole at a polite distance
Maybe it is a large pond
Generally, I don’t really know what the size of anything is in life
I’m not Home Depot
The late evening light above these two things is not fair
The evening clouds above this duo are in riot beauty gear
Orange fluorescence of clouds, like looking up into the piled guts
Of some weird divinity
You don’t want to put a face to it
Let it stay guts
Those people can admittedly be annoying
The ones who need a face attached to it
Admittedly, it exists!
Am I already on the other side?
As the clouds move, as they “off themselves” in the vernacular
It is a feeling like soap
I am bathing old limbs of my mind
In this new soap
It is a feeling like a thought
For the telephone pole (that could have been there a century)
And the pond of indeterminate scale or size
Think the colors like a painting where you don’t know where anything begins or ends
Some sorta Whoville maybe
The clouds are set design, they are being changed
No other structure anywhere near these things
(I don’t count me)
Just myself and a spinning armor of a compass
Just myself and a spinning arrow of a compass
Do you why Freudian analysis was in the humanities, really,
And not in science, and you are really too young to remember Freud,
The targets he put on heads
Freudianism, it’s a feeling maybe a sap
It is shooting a b.b. gun, for sure
I have come to watch it freeze I mean a lake pond
You see, I have enlarged its idea already in my mind
Like a pawnbroker, like a realist
There is this grocery list
I have plagiarized reality
I have come to stare at this pond and its (I think its) pole
I have come to watch it freeze to death
That disincarnate side, it is talking most
Though you are a stranger, I know
There are rules to you, to baseball, to everything
In your incertitude of being, its warmth, it is freezing
In your uncertitude of being, its warmth, it is freezing
I prefer it wrong
The surface of the pond is an old television
And an old dead t.v. moves in wind out there somewhere across the ice
I hadn’t realized it had already frozen
No longer an old broken television set hockey puck howling winds
Like a television show
I hadn’t realized it had froze
Fast to earth as babe to tit
That quick or how long was I standing here?
Somebody tried to throw it through the surface
To crack the pond’s face mightily, to operatically break it
But all they did was craze its face with details
Hypnotic thousandfold details
Scratched black vinyl in the middle of the night
When the moon is shy
The way we will be reliving our lives as musical variations with age
It is no use trying to be like today today
Standing around on a street corner doing nothing you’d do better
The surface crunches underfoot crazies talks to itself
When I walk out on the ice to pet the t.v.
It has a face pointed to the west
It is getting dark
It has a kind face
A youthful face though it is lying
Will anyone ever fish it out
After it falls through?
It’s like theory
It is like meeting you today or it was meeting you today
Which was, I think, spitting watermelon seeds erotically
Into each other’s mouths like a performance in a basement
We were in folding chairs
You will wish to recall
I’m sorry, this is not a poem; this is an arson
All aboard, I hope
Unless you have been displaced too as this pond, this telephone pole
Unless you are safely cold
Like the pole and lake or pond whatever it is
At least they have each other
I mean god, could you imagine it if it was just either one out there?
There is no way to talk about it without sounding like witches. Their toys are still found in the forest. Sometimes, you come upon a stuffed animal sitting under a tree, moss growing nearby but the plush pet unmolested by this green fur. The animal will look so fresh, seemingly set down only a moment before, untouched by the weather, the long time they have been there in the woods. You might believe the child’s hand had just let go, it looks that warm. If things can look warm. You might believe that the child hides behind the trunk of the tree against which the furry pink elephant rests his back. For perhaps obvious reasons of mojo, of superstition, with an eye to good cess, the country folk talk about the children in a thinly-veiled code. For example, they drop off the first letters of their names. Bess becomes “Ess” and Tara becomes “Ara.” Sometimes, they merely use the children’s initials. Everyone remembers how the daughter buried the cat in the box. How the younger boy discovered this, returned with the cat in the box, put it on the dining room table in the house, an offering to his parents. She wept, was confessed. The cat became a religious symbol in their household. Feline martyr. The white cat glowed. Her siblings drew and painted it. Had it been the medieval period, there would have been a stained glass window in which the cat figured prominently, heroically. She forgave the little brother who condemned her. Who outed the witch in her. And then she took him for a walk deep into the woods one day and he was never seen or held again. She wept. She “lost” him. He was never found. She was very clever. She could roll her spirit shut the way a pill bug rolls its body shut, the way it becomes a little armored pill. The young father (so young he looked more like her brother) saw when she went for the next boy; it was a close call with a snowstorm, a wicked game. A grandfather’s boat was involved. And then the father took her for a walk deep in the woods and “lost” her. He said it wasn’t as easy as all that. He came back with strange marks on him. Later, he woke up with a tattoo on his body that he had never seen applied. Then the rest of the family disappeared and their house remains empty to this day. The forest remains empty. The trees are still hung, here and there, with little photographs in frames. That is her work. There is always a cool breeze, even in the warmer months. Even in the swamping heat of July. The forest keeps this cool space and its blue shadows. People blame it on a cave, but there is no cave exhaling this cool air. Children who come through know not to touch the little icons of the photographs. Not to touch the trees even. But you can see her entire family in the photographs. And other long-dead people who are mysteries. Which ones are hers? Who knows. The animals sit under the trees. Old stuffed animals with strange eyes of sorts you don’t see anymore on the animal dolls we give our children. Icon eyes. Terror and amusement at once in those old plastic eyes. Strange ecstasy. Maybe it’s the way the eyes are when one sees a human circus. One knows the horror. A dark part of one might be titillated. She is close. She is listening to us. It cannot be otherwise, for that is what the story tells us. The trees feel compassionate and invite us in. There may be a child’s tea party, the tea laid and waiting for us. Plastic tea set aping porcelain. Teacups steaming. Miniature table. Tiny chairs where tiny witches sit. But they are not what we imagine. We know better. One child walking barefoot encountered a lobster in the middle of the woods. It was crawling along the forest floor, though the ocean is more than an hour’s drive away . Sometimes a cloud will descend on a clear blue day and fill the space between the trees. And some days there are elephants. They seem lost. They cry as they wander through the fog and a girl’s laugh curdles your listening. Some unwise children leave her notes. These she reads. And sometimes she responds. Sometimes she comes to “help.”
I just can’t wait for you to never talk to me again in this life, so I can tell you what I think of you now for the rest of mine. You’ve got a lot of princess points in hell. You should check the catalog and see what you can trade them in for, what for you can trade them in and get. I bet something real nice like a dollhouse the size of a real house and you can live there. Seriously, if I could have you any way I want for just one night, I would not even fall for the “Helen of Troy” trick all the boys know by now, but instead ask for the divine satisfaction of your explaining everything to me. Your entire life. No more mythology. Diagrams. I will know every ounce of every thought at the end of that night. Open up that unearthly termite mound. Is it true it was created only for temperature regulation and that inside it is never off by more than one or two degrees? I will forgo the sublime pleasure of your one and only earthly body, of that holy supper, for that divine ownership of actual facts. This is something your beauty always denied me. Your beauty which is the best beauty, because it is merely grammar. It is the homelessness of the world. And nothing more.
Sometimes I forget to exist and am instead like a nail driven into an expensive but antiquated stereo system by a vengeful, slightly older brother. Nevertheless nevertheless nevertheless. I follow myself home. Some days, I mean, I follow myself home. Everyone in this office feels the need to prove their sanity to everyone else. That’s not a good sign. Have you ever been to a track where the horses run around in an oval: I forget the name of this. Three of the horses win and the rest of the horses evaporate into mist. Fog. Something like that. Their parents buy very expensive, luxury coffee machines that are stainless steel and never mention disappointment again. When someone never mentions their disappointment to you again, you have truly lost. That means the samurai moment has passed.
For a day, I am both Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at once. They battle it out. It is like a thousand chandeliers falling. I walk through the rainy streets of this city, stepping over puddles, and they fly at one another. All of Mexico watches in silence. I stop in a cafe and sit in the corner window. I like to watch it rain. I eat a piece of pie. I think about how primitive a fork actually is. I mean, just look at a fork. This tells you what sort of animal. You can use the finest silver, ornament it with festoons and flowers. But it is a pronged thing. Used to spear hunks of dead beasts. And innocent things like pie. When I go to bed, I put Frida and Diego away like playthings. They are done being wrong, being right. I hear only the rain at the end of the night. The way it hangs on the eaves of my house. Desperate.
I sit in a window for a week. I use food as a sedative and then I don’t. I jump across a few puddles in the street and see a few movies. I forgive myself and I don’t. What right did I have to be in a movie theater? I bat at some cherries hanging from an ornamental tree with my umbrella. The tree is private property, behind someone’s iron fence that looks two hundred years old. It protects their house, which looks even older. It looks like a politician’s home. I hear a dog barking inside that warmly lit house. Or else the dog is chortling. I go home and sit in a window for another week. How can I possibly accomplish my life, I think. But then lives are not things which are accomplished. Deeds are accomplished. Lives are lived. The cherries that dangled knew more than I did. They don’t feel the need for an umbrella. I applaud their bravery and self-control. But they are only cherries. Someone could eat them. Anyone. I sit in a corner and pretend to text someone. I mean I begin but stop. But I think I knew I was going to pretend. To make my fingers fidget. To tell the alphabet it was useless, after all. To flirt with the alphabet, and all the work those Phoenicians did, and then to let it down gently. To be a jerk. Just delete the message. I sit in the window again and watch the rain. If only I could get this job.
Here is a kind coffee cup and here is an unkind coffee cup. They share the same table. I tell you that I want to get high. You sweep the kitchen behind my back. I try to figure out if the broom is a symbol. I try to figure out if the broom is a form of symbolic communication, or if it was just that you wanted to sweep something up. Maybe the kind coffee cup is warmer. Or maybe it is the unkind cup. Warmth and coldness can be so confusing, can’t they? I mean their usefulness. I didn’t say they had coffee in them. The cups. Maybe they do. I tell you I am going outside for a walk. You say, “Good, because I don’t think it would be a good idea if you took a walk inside the house.” You smile battily. You do something with your hair. We are in the fidgeting phase of the conversation, not the bargaining phase. I put on my jacket and go through the front door. I walk, but only around the block. It’s a small block. When I come back in, back home, I see the broom but not you. The broom is standing where you were standing when I left. There is the table that “took place” behind our conversation. Why is it wrong to say a table “takes place?” One of the cups is missing. Is it the kind cup or the unkind one? It seems kind of important.