Every 3 minutes:
Blank. I pick up a notebook. Leather bound. Smell the leather. Trace my fingers over its smooth surface and I imagine a piece of antiquity preserved in my hands. Preserved flesh. Open the cover, a crack of the spine, that virgin pop, bring the crease to my nose, like new shoes, these fresh pages mark a fresh beginning.
Smells like sex. I pull the covers over the sheets because I’m afraid someone might know what happened here, somehow in the way the sheets are wrinkled and twisted. Are there two shadows in the pillow or am I paranoid? Do the colors of the sheets give anything away? Standing at the edge of the mattress I fall onto my stomach to recall his feeling. The bed is cold. I am alone again, but not because we want it this way. Someday this bed will be our sanctuary.
Two can share a small space. A single size loft built over another single size mattress. We’re supposed to be best friends. That’s why we agreed to share the second bedroom, letting Danielle have the first for herself. I didn’t even approve of this apartment. She was hasty and nervous. Now I have to leave the house before she rises, so my day isn’t tainted by her voice. It could have been fine, sharing a small bedroom with my best friend. Sometimes we talk. Like sisters delaying sleep.
I close the door behind me and latch the lock. The key will only serve as a souvenir on my keychain, a relic of short visits listening to new music. We could only take as many boxes as we could carry because we didn’t have a car. So the important things are saved: a massive CD collection, reference books (but not the heavy one, the Concordance, the one I wanted), clothes, and his guitar. I should have met him a year ago - no, maybe two months ago.
THE APARTMENT BUILDING
Unpolished stones stacked three stories high. The arch of a porch opens the cave before the door, for smoking and thinking and waiting for guests when I’m too eager to stare out a window. A red door with a brass handle and a gargoyle knocker. Tall windows on the first floor would stay open in summer or record rain while I’m sleeping.
“The black river of death.” She holds up her skirt baring layers of stockings stuffed into button-up boots. Warily she offers the tip of her shoe to the still dark waters, bracing her body to resist a pull into its depths.
“Ah! It is solid! The river has frozen over!” She squeals at her sisters and jumps onto its surface. Hopping from foot to foot she invites…
“Little boxes on a hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky,” she’s singing as she walks home from school. Green squares of growing carpet preceded every white box on the block. Imagine this a different color: the sky green, the grass blue. She thinks, looking up, that she’d like to walk on that ceiling, like the moon bounce she had at her birthday party.
Divided into four squares. In the center I can touch all four without crossing the street. My left foot is buried in snow, my right foot under leaves; my right hand covered in ants, my left hand sinks in muddy grass. I spin in circles, still on all fours and mix the elements – melting snow over summer flows…
The country lay in shambles. This could be my imagination. The wind gives me a plastic bag, escaped from the remains of a grocery store. At least we won’t have to pay for today’s food, but what about tomorrow? What about the gangs forming to monopolize the goods? We need to work together. Hunger makes us greedy. “Don’t worry about tomorrow for today has enough troubles of its own.”
Separated by customs. Customs held together by policy. Policy made to keep an order. Order intended to relay peace. Peace needed for joy. Joy comes from the heart. Hearts pulse for life. Life is ruled by need. Need drives us to action.
Airplanes to fly, buses to get to airplanes, maybe I can float. I’ve never taken a boat anywhere but around the lake. Europe. Why do I want to go to Europe? If I say I don’t like America am I being ungrateful? Jaded? What do I expect? Just want something new to look at. I want something fresh to smell. What is that smell?
What is that even supposed to mean? Old continent – so is a new continent one covering an old one? I could believe, understand, that every generation lives in a new continent. The one of our ancestors is unrecognizable – except maybe a few things. But even those few things live in new context. So the ancient church I stand in now is altered by perception, by old tradition carried into a new era.
So this land is new because rains have washed away the old. Let’s switch up our style. Let the oceans cover our lands and lets live in the ocean basins. Never matter the impossibility, we’re humans, we do as we please. Would the grounds be softer? Would our houses be multi-leveled? Would we grow potatoes and corn and lettuce? Could I climb up sunflowers to see the top of my car? Roads – please, no roads.
I am thinking temporary. I love this earth, this world made so perfectly. Yes, I know, but it was perfect once. You don’t have to agree. I imagine myself leaning over the edge of a palm, peering between split fingers at a world imploding. A dark expanse would catch the smoke, but this fire doesn’t smoke.
A natural progression would suggest stars and planets but I’ve already been there. What is space? Is there any space? I miss narration. Space holds these figures apart from each other. Space keeps distance between these two lovers. Space curses this love, but then brings it together.