Butterfly don’t drink that pool water! I think about the dogs outside sunning, paws towards the sky–what they survive on. Fruit peels, bits of bread covered in ketchup, corn cobs seasoned with chili. I think of the happy squirrels in Chapultapec–red and grey, sometimes completely black. I think of the little Incan Dove that walked into my friend’s hand last week. I think of the Venezuelan trainer, his arm around me, explaining that I need to accompany my excessive fruit eating with “prote”. I think about the picture of a banana that I saw from the 1500’s–how the inside of it looked like a pumpkin, stringy and porous.
These prehistoric places
where everything is made of rock
even the faces on dogs, remind me of dreams I have, in which
I hike the bottom of the ocean and faces of dogs, dogs that I am afraid of
as they appear suddenly
when I turn corners, remind me
of the faces of the sea creatures that float towards me in the haze
that come towards me from beyond curtains of rising bubbles,
and which I am also scared of,
the creatures, I mean.
I watched you walk to your car today with your things, from the bathroom window.
As I watched, I rattled the broken light bulb, wishing I were an electrician who understood how to make the light come back;
to replace the broken little bits of wire inside.
Now in the cold buzz of the room I listen closely for the sound of myself whistling happily in some future kitchen.
I listen closely for your silence on the other side of these unfolding events.
I hear the dog bark across the street, and it makes me think of the caw of a crow.
I wish my head would screw on right
Like it does sometimes at work
When a blithe saint whispers in my ear
About some high noble calling
And causes me to smile broadly
at all the suffering weary soot-faced folks
that come to lay their burden at my desk
asking for a penny
and I hand them two
sparkly eyed at the nothing that I do
because I have so many
I wanted to be a visionary woman at home today
I’m whatever thing is in front of you
A lukewarm cup of tea, impotent, sweating
too big for the bag
being drunk mainly for thirst
or a plant that died months ago
begging with its little words for something you didn’t offer
while you drowned it with water
wondering why it wouldn’t grow
If I had left her alone to do the employment test for Uhaul she would have failed every single question. I made myself peripheral as she tilted her head up, squinting through her glasses, and read the question out loud. I was curious to see what she would say. There was a diagram showing the front wheels of a van turned left. The question was which way the back would swing. It was interesting to watch her move her body, pretend to look in the rear view mirror, even look backwards as if she were backing out of a parallel park, and then hear her certainty in saying that the van would swing right. This woman drives everyday. I emerged from my receded place in the chair next to her, to lift a finger and say as gently as possible that I “wasn’t sure, but wouldn’t the back of the car swing left, too?” She dropped her hands and pulled off her glasses. She mimicked the backing out again with her hands on an imaginary steering wheel and said, “No, honey. If you turn the wheel right, the car moves left, and if you move the wheel left, the car moves right.” “Oh, ok.” I didn’t think it would make sense to try to convince her. It was her application for Uhaul. It was she who would be driving the van into cars and yards and the frames of people’s garages, and maybe running over small children and animals were she to be given the position. And it would be me, out there on the library desk, the unknowing enabler of incompetent Uhaul drivers. In the middle of one of the other applications, she got up, flustered, to go outside and smoke a cigarette. I was left in the living room, struggling to find her a position as Storage Unit Manager somewhere in Asheville—a position she had been dreaming about because “they are all closed on Sunday, you’re out by 5, and the rest of the day you’re all alone with nothing to do.” I couldn’t find any of these so called positions. I sipped on the Cranapple juice she had offered me, and thought about my own dreams. Somewhere along the way, I pulled back the desires for fame and bright accolades of my twenties to reveal a bizarre but frantic need to go hungry making sure that people like her are able to find their way around a job application, so people like her can sit around in empty Storage Unit offices, getting paid to do nothing, home before 5.
I wonder what makes my lover want this overgrown child with a big nose and perfect, manicured hair, but I suppose I don’t wonder too hard. The long straight line of her legs in tight jeans that sit upon blocky maryjane shoes, wool socks, a child’s butt that curves back but never out meets the bottom of some solid colored clean looking button up, some necklace with a tiny charm—you know, a miniature wishbone, or a tiny bird, or a bicycle or something. The dirty blonde hair, neat in any of its iterations, and enviably so when it is down, cut straight across with waves tidily at the bottom, or in a “messy” bun. The smooth Aryan skin, chin always up, eyes languidly sweeping the room, practically rolling, a childish brand of insecurity only thinly concealed by good posture, and underdeveloped opinions of those around her. Obviously high on her reflection of modern standards of beauty in America today. Maybe in Portland she had a ball drowning in her own milk, but this town’s mulatto is the coffee under her hands, the words she haughtily reinvents and claims as her aesthetic, an old language her young mouth speaks expertly about, never thinking twice. She “hates” men how hip. But the anger is as misguided and unexplored as the theft she dedicates her time to.
“The brain reads as important what the hand holds and touches.”
I touch my neck. I touch my neck every single day, many times a day, especially the days that I find the most insufferable. I feel for the lump on the left side of my neck down below the crevice between my collarbone and trap, the two above it that are stacked up together near my jugular vein, and the one that slides a thumb and a half up from those two. The one below, by the collarbone—a place that I have read on many online forums that a person should NOT be able to feel their lymph nodes unless there is an advanced abdominal cancer—feels the way I would imagine a quartered fresh fig would feel if it were placed below the hypo-dermis. It moves when I lurch my head forward from its cervical socket, and retreats shyly under the bone when I round my shoulders. The two that are stacked above it are gummier, firmer, like mountain peaks that rise from the muscular bed of my throat. I check to see if they have changed, if perhaps they are firmer still as time goes on. If perhaps they have grown larger, or fused. The slippery soft node a thumb above those two is like a tiny fish, and it is not of very much concern to me. There is also a node nestled down in the pain of my pelvis, and a few that I search out on my abdomen, on the right side. The one down on the right side of my pelvis is in the soft part of my hip, buried. It is very much like a hard lentil, and does not seem to grow or move much. I don’t feel for it as much as I used to. The ones on my abdomen are negligible, for I don’t know what other bits of tissue and fat and glands and nodes a human being might reasonably find on her abdomen and so I can’t be sure that the deposits that I push and palpate are in fact lymph nodes, and not some other benign condition. Lymph nodes, palpable ones, in all of their states, even when reactive or inflamed or hard and exhausted from their years of work, are benign, I am told over and over. Lymph nodes are not meant to be searched out and touched, I am told. Stop touching your neck, I am told.
Yet it is the hardest struggle of my adulthood to accept that some dark fact is not hovering over to claim me, when my heart is so wounded, when the kitten inside cries blindly, when I see the loss out there coming towards me like a meteor, when the days are spinning away like yarn undoing itself wildly on a broken loom, creating nothing.