5. Titan Southern Polar Ice Cloud

prose, writing

Scientists found another cloud on Titan; a monster in the active weather. They’re talking about the rich, gaseous filling between the void and substance. They’re talking about body.

Your skin was always so clear, save for that red line on the back of your hand. The blue ring around the planet that provides definition against nothingness. The empty fireplace, full of wood.

I stuck my hands under the tap—the cold one. I was trying to coerce feeling back into them. I made fists, but nothing worked until the water warmed up, turning them raw.

I swept the ashes out of the grate. You were lying on the sofa, barefoot and wanting for something neither of us had a name for. When I touched your heel, it felt like cold water. There was a moth flying around, touching our lights, so I took it by the wings and let it outside. You wanted to crush it; you never did like animals.

Braiding blades of grass, stringing the daisies along. You wrap it around my finger, add me to the chain. I’m not sure I mind. I don’t think I do.

What days are you freest in the evenings? I’d imagine it would be when it’s clear out, and warm enough to sit outside. That’s always when you’re here. Where do you go when you’re not around? Nevermind. It’s none of my business.

So, what happens now? We see other people. It can’t be helped; that’s just how we are. You were lying on the sofa, barefoot, with your legs over mine. I don’t think about what happens when they’re not. I just don’t. And you never ask and I never say yes. I never say that within all this laundry I did for you, there are things that aren’t yours mixed in.

One day you came in from the rain. I opened the door and let you in. You were lying on the sofa, barefoot and smoking right down to the filter. I put your clothes in the dryer, tossed the whole pile on you when it was done. You laughed. Your toes curled. I thought you would throw it off once it got cold, but you kept laying there under it all, arm extended as the lit ember kept on going. You never burn your fingers; you always get away with being just dangerous enough.

Titan is a moon. Had I told you that? It orbits around a larger body, apart from the rings of Saturn. Apart from us, it is the only one to have a stable body of water. It is an egg yolk turning around against the black velvet vacuous nothing. In certain light, it looks like us. Its clouds look like ours. The soil there is rendered uninhabitable. We’ll never call it ours, as much as we’d like to.

When they talk of the monster cloud, they’re talking about substance. They’re talking about body. You always had a little of each, and I was always in the middle.

The Pythagorean Cup

writing

If you pour too much, it spills all over you. That’s the point of it. You’re all supposed to get equal amounts of wine because water does not flow under normal conditions. You must kick it. Suck the tube. Apply pressure. The flow of liquid from one to the other. If you are the type to snub the rules, raise the cup above your head and drink wine out of the clip.

And maybe you are; maybe you enjoy that kind of thing. Maybe you drive on the shoulder of the road even though you aren’t supposed to. Maybe when you’re driving alone at night you close your eyes and let your hands drift from the wheel, lending yourself to circumstance for a moment because you can afford to, because you know that it’s all harmless fun, or not fun, but just harmless.

The car came too fast around the curve after the rain. The top came off and nearly crushed you, but it was fun, it was harmless fun, and you still had enough circumstantial credit to afford the near miss. Those numbers are dwindling. You bent your thumb back but it’s all alright because at least you still have it.

The next day tastes no sweeter. You didn’t lose anything, you just hurt a little. Ice all day. Keep everything elevated.

Put a wine glass on a graph sheet and explore. This is time. This is space. You’re in there somewhere, filling a cup. You’re in there somewhere, going around the curves. Around, around.  Watch the cup.

pluto’s wright mons in color

journal work, writing

You know I hate it when you dog-ear the pages because that means I have to go back when you’re asleep and fold them out straight again. Or maybe you don’t know; I don’t either. I don’t think I ever told you it bothers me.

I drew some blood again and I said Charlie, if I don’t know what I’m doing, then we’re both in trouble now, aren’t we? You’re always the one behind the door. Always the one taping things to mirrors; things about yourself, things you like, things you wish you were. Always the one working alone in the elevator, making sure you could see you, and that you looked alright. Of course you do, dummy. Of course you look alright.

Remember that night we went to the stars in the woods? Everything was so red. Everything was so clear. Pluto, far far away. You said it looked so small, and I guess that was true since we don’t count it anymore, do we? You did that, somehow. But then again, you never really needed any of us. The stars, the sun, or me. The stars you kept, because who wouldn’t? If you were handed the whole wide world, you’re telling me you wouldn’t keep the potential of a great white flaming death in your hand? I know I didn’t deal you a great deck; I know you did the best you could, and sometimes you’d win and maybe sometimes I would too. That wasn’t the worst part, the part you’d tell your friends. You keep up appearances, and I still breathe like I used to. Nothing wrong there.

But, you know, you hate appearances, and you hate the breath we shared when I was around. I could count the minutes you spent wishing I was gone. That doesn’t mean I left. That doesn’t mean you hated me, or that you hated when I was gone. Our hands were always cold, but that wasn’t your fault.  I just wish you cared a little more. I wish you weren’t so far away, but that’s not really up to me. You were always in some other orbit, and ours weren’t supposed to meet. So soon you’ll collide with someone else. Someday soon, it won’t be me, and that’s okay.

Baby, be good out there.

the girl who owned the void

prose, writing

The antlers went clear through your chest. It’s not so bad; you were the one being hunted after all. There is no more fun inside of you, it’s all tumors these days. And that’s not what you wanted. Who would? The body and the memory of the body. You’re at the big glass table with so many envelopes. This was the first year without any valentines, for you or from you.

There is something sticking to your ribs. There is something in there, and you can’t get it out. You tried with the fishhooks, or was it the top of that fence? You told me it just missed your heart, and now you have a hole where the fatty remnant leaks through. Is she a she at all?

So, okay, you’ve changed a little. That’s fine. Okay, maybe you don’t wash your hair as much as you used to. Maybe you wear the same clothes all the time. Maybe you can’t sleep. Okay. That’s okay. It just didn’t work out very well. That’s fine.

I tried substituting something for a feeling that wasn’t so condensed. It was lacking; not quite as filling, of course. But it’s supposed to sustain me longer. I don’t know. I’m not really feeling anything. What’s going on with you?

The grinds keep getting in. Acids constrict the cells of the meat, break it down. You don’t want that. Last time we spoke, you didn’t want that. I mean, you said you didn’t. I don’t actually know what you want and that’s really the problem. I want you to know everything I know.

You are the blue curtain and I am the light trying to shine through. The fabric of space and time always bends when you’re added to it, and you follow the curve that you created simply because nothing else in the universe stops you. And since you’re there, you know what happens? The light bends around you, because you’re there. So even if I could get to you, it would always go around. Around, around. Always around.

the brightest restaurant in all the world

journal work, prose, Travel Writing, writing

In the benign lights is pollution, but not so much so that you could not see Orion perfectly out the window. There is the spear, there the dagger, there the head of the god, always wanting what he could never have; first the women then the doves then the stars. Always following those stars through the winter and infinity.  Their catasterism was his undoing, and, unable to let them go, he followed them up.

So many empty boxes, so much food left uneaten.

The brightest restaurant in all the world, garnishing the night. I can’t stop dropping my things. I can’t stop drinking the water that always comes back. I could call that nervousness but that’s not quite right. I’ve been here for years, I’m renewing the lease.

I keep burning the roof of my mouth. I don’t know how to stop. The worst thing is having ambition and nothing to do with it as it devalues and everyone has a garland around them, except yours isn’t so full, isn’t so flourishing because you don’t water it often. It’s your own fault, you keep drinking the water but you don’t ever save it. Are you getting the most out of your water? Are you sure? I’ve got all these keys on the ring; we can leave now if you want to.

So you go to other houses, and see how they live. They all have skylights; they all live greener than you. It’s not so much jealousy but its kin, a kind of notion that maybe you could live like that if you did things differently. You’re always walking with skates on. Make sure to lace the back so you don’t hurt your ankles; at least then you could keep walking.

The brightest restaurant in all the world is full of mirrors. Mirrors so the waiters see around you, mirrors so it looks bigger, mirrors so you can see yourself wherever you look, and that’s not quite unpleasant so much as unsettling. The soap in the bathroom was making me sick so I had to stop using it and everyone takes off their coats, but I didn’t bring one. I let my scarf fall off the chair until I pile it in my lap. I can’t eat much anymore; I’m not finding as many stains. So that’s the silver lining, the thing that burnishes the garland around my neck. The silver pin holding it all in place.

At least it’s warm in here. At least I have someone I love. The rest doesn’t matter so much to me. The garland can grow if I can care for it in the brightest restaurant in all the world. Isn’t that crazy? I sat in the brightest restaurant in all the world.

invite your soul abundant

journal work, prose, writing

A bite of red apple. The river is a sliver silver chain in the sun, but up close are imperfections. I’m not allowed to take much citrus with me. A lonely lovely warbling trumpet and the oncoming clouds, dark and woolly. In the winter it’s all grey and high winds. Not a lot of green, or it’s artificial, or it just doesn’t feel right. My feet are always cold, and people keep getting black thumbs; pocketmarks of poor circulation; I didn’t want you to know about it.

Back into the clouds we go. The river’s damn near frozen, but people are fishing anyways. Of course they’re going to fall through, ice can be thin like that. I sat alone again. It’s okay; I don’t know. You are becoming the person you were going to be 24 hours ago. You can stand up you know, but keep the belt on.

the glitch in the middle of the street at night

journal work, prose, writing

You’re bleeding on the hotel bed but that’s okay; they don’t wash the sheets anyways. There’s a boy, and you’re you, and he might love you enough to hold your hand some day. He smiles at you in the bath that night and he really does look like a woman in certain light, but that’s what makes him ethereal, and what makes that green bloom swell inside you when everyone else sees you together. You can’t really say he’s mine, but if you did it might be true one day. You’re on your knees in the middle of the street, drunk and screaming: at him, at everyone else. He has you by the shoulders and his hands nearly cover them all. You were never that big to begin with. He smiles like he did in the bath and he’s yours no matter who either of you go home with. He smiles like he did in the bath.

He’s the new light of the morning, the sodium streetlights after you’ve been drinking, he’s always there except when he isn’t, and times like that make you wonder if he was ever really around, if he really cared about who he saw you with. The night you met you did blow in the bathroom. It was a winter party, or maybe he was just wearing white. He could be yours he could be yours. But you both drink too much and you love too much and he was never good at telling just one story. He’s fun and fun is what you need because the sun doesn’t set on fun and leave you in the dark. Fun is 24/7, the open bar, the blow in the bathroom, the lights that never go out because nothing ever closes; you always leave until you’re home. Fun is other people. Fun is the smile in the bath, while you wash his hair and he touches your knee. Incoherence and bliss. That’s all you ever really wanted: the light that never goes out.

greenpool

journal work, prose, writing

I face outwards onto a pool, now a viridian green, darkening with infertile pollen. The green that you dye eggs in. Deepwater green. Openwater green.

There is a monster somewhere across from me. I hear him screaming some afternoons. I imagine he finds his mother in the matted clot waiting outside to walk their children home from the bus stop. She’s holding his younger brother,  the one who looks up to him, and fears him. A lot of women here wear jewel-colored robes. I’ve never spoken to them, but I like to sit on the steps and watch them. They walk like tendrils of smoke in a still and breezeless room.

The boy walks home with his mother. She wants to hold his hand but he’s getting too old for that. He shakes her off, dismisses her. Maybe she smiles in secret amusement, tickled by her boy trying to be more of a man. He’s not so old—seven perhaps, or nine. Old enough to command authority in his group. She makes him take his shoes off when they get inside. His father isn’t home, so he doesn’t listen, and kicks them hastily into the cubby. The other brother toes his sandals off and places his shoes down as one would with an injured bird into its nest. He still holds her hand. When she walks around, she smells green, like leaves, like mint.

They have a dog. The younger brother digs a hand into the fur at its back and buries his face in its neck. It smells copper, like dirt, like salt; the acidic yellow in a pineapple. The dog doesn’t push him away. The dog does not leave.
So she moves to hold the older son’s hand, but he shrinks away. Maybe she smiles, but maybe she flinches. Her son is growing. Doesn’t need his mother anymore. He wants blood and scraped knees now.

After their homework is finished but before dinner, she lets them go outside. A group of boys plays soccer near the pool nearly every evening. I can hear the shouting from my window, but I keep it open; noise is good for the plants. Even when it’s been raining they play, everything from the mud to the pool to their shirts weighed down with rain.

I was reading on the history of the house. Hantha is Peruvian term for the edibility of a potato. The Aztecs mashed amaranth with blood for human sacrifice and so terrified the first conquistadores by their perceived cruelty into calling them pigs. Vasco de Gama looted and burned a Muslim ship, carrying men, women, and children. And he called the Aztecs pigs for their inhumanity.

I was reading on the history of the house. The screen door was between me and that slowly turning pool, growing heavier and darker by the day. Outside, nothing but crickets and dry grass. Boys waiting to play soccer, killing time. I would imagine that the amaranth-blood dish would have the consistency of adequately-mashed oatmeal. Dry stalks of baked wheat, soaking up blood into a mush. Maybe it is this sudden bloody thought that caused it all. Maybe it was a moment of violence in the air, a chord struck somewhere behind it all, then left to pass through us.

A boy, screaming loudly in a quick, high-pitched language. Screaming just on the edge of pubescence, an inhumanly different sound. Strained as high as he can go, and angry. Then, in English: “I will whip you! Whip you!”
I haven’t heard from the monster since then, but his mother has; he’s being punished. Or his friends, shocked by his outburst, play without him. Either way he’s been quiet.

I see the younger brother; I saw him last night when I was watering my plants, murmuring sweet nothings to them so they could grow. He was near the pool, crouched down over the pavement. Trucks and small cars littered the ground around him, he like a pint-sized Godzilla hell-bent on destroying the city’s transportation system. And for all the time he was out there, he played alone.

His brother wants nothing to do with him anymore. Even worse than the quiet was the yelling; the screaming, the threat of the punishment that was so constantly held above their heads. Or maybe neither parent can look into their sons’ eyes and beat them. Perhaps this is why the older one craves violence so much, why he kicks other boys in the shins when they play soccer, why he goes to the idea of a whip to scare his friends. A whip collects its fury as it draws back, before it comes down.

The mother who smells like leaves walks with her youngest son, and she holds his hand. There’s a little garden patch that’s overgrown and pale from the winter. They weed together. She tells him which plant is what, passes their names onto him. Her shawl is blood red. Spilt blood in the family. Or simply another rose in the garden. Their little plot of land grows greener with each passing day.

I was walking earlier today, and a couple was parting in front of me. I moved to go around, but they kissed and separated, and I walked right through that dissolving moment. Perpetual motion pushed me through, the residue web-like in its refusal to pass without clinging.

In the distance, thunder.

The pool is getting clearer and clearer. The green is in recession, the color bleeding out into the little garden patch beside it. It’s a milky translucent green now, almost like the kind you see on postcards of tropical islands. I suppose this is the water that separates us all, after all. All of us on our little islands. I wonder if the mother will let her sons swim when it gets warm enough. I wonder if the monster will make another appearance. Something tells me that he will.

Crossing into Albany over the River

journal work, prose, Travel Writing, writing

It’s only just started to snow past Poughkeepsie. The conductor says take a walk, take a smoke, take ten minutes, but no more. The dining car is closed. Crossing over the Hudson, the Basques take over, and then chemise a la Reine, then the bones of our ancestors. OrlandoEthan Frome. Scraggly woods which promise wolves, past the snowy mists. Splashes of red down in the ditch, like blood, like cell clusters mounting the tributary arteries; wheat follicles line the face of another world.

Deep in the snow, black waters trudge on unimpeded yet slowly, with the viscosity of sludge, carrying winter within it. In that way we are the same. People tend not to consider bears; wolves — the threat of packs and coordinated attack — seem far worse and more eminent than a lumbering, engorged, large-eyed beast. But it can run. It has claws. Weight behind power, instead of agility.

In the white wild, there is the body, there is the big red machine, a warm heart pumping blood in the cold. The tassels of the pines must survive in the wind and snow, a faint plumage to brighten the dead, stripped of all but the internal life preserved in syrup and sap. Pikes find themselves stacked into coherence, shapes we recognize; placed before their dormant brethren, spared in place of uselessness, too thin, too unsubstantiated; too uncontrolled. Always a capacity for ignorance.

If you run your tongue over the roof of your mouth, it feels like waves. Bare trees offer blooded cones; the water churns with river silt and sand, gravid with ice, while upstream a ways the water steams in the cold air. All dormant, a natural gestation until the spring, so you can come back renewed. The big red machine, churning onwards.