Bodies fold like tired laundry. Beds are no longer a necessity when eyes climb closed and the push/pull of subway lulls bones to sleep. We wear our coats now. Construction boots. Necks are scarve’d and skulls are capped by wool. How contagious is that cough at the end of this train. Would we still exist without cell phones or candy crush.
At 6:36am on Wednesday, the sky still sleeps. Call it eighty shades of black with planets that blink. If I hadn’t of noticed that chip in the moon last night, I might have forgotten why I look up so often. At 125th Street, the humans get off and suddenly that coveted blue bench is empty. I am book-ended by sleepy commuters and across, a man shakes his neck toward the music piped into his ears. I need no record or radio to channel the pre-recorded rhythms in my mind.
Outside, pigeons flap wings wearing reminders of breakfast: barbecue sauce, bones on their breath. I cannot explain why I call them my favorite bird, but maybe it is their flight. History as grey and white mailboxes or. Maybe it is the way they are ignored or shooed away. And aren’t the most beautiful parts of earth also what we tend to forget to notice?
My habit is to feel everything. This is all just glass and it has been scored and electrocuted into a movie soundtrack. This film is not yet rated, yet it is already banned in more countries than I can pronounce. I am just looking to gallop inside a human who knows how to loiter away the grime of non-recycled memories. We sat on a bench where I wrote my first song and you shared your anise and anger. A photograph of my mother twirls above my bed from that time she channeled Virginia Woolf without realizing. I study her black-and-white gaze as a reminder that there is always something to scrape at from the outside. What I wanted was to touch your hand from palms toward psalms. There is a piano wearing the threads of composed sorrow. Maybe we can dance into the moon, dressed in keys and strings. I will never be easy. You will never be east. It may be difficult to find peace within the nudity of your gender. But this music. This music has limbs that can hold you in the evening. I will be found upon morning, wrapped in alphabetical orchestras and the instrumentation of salt.
I cannot begin to cite all the stars I counted on that night when the air felt more like the endings of autumn than august. Where I should begin is the digestion of home-baked high as I paddled in lung-inflated kayak in illegal waters of new york reservoir. The sun dripped on each shoulder as I felt muscles expand with intentional dig of directional ore. To enter memory and present-tense simultaneously. Stumbled swallows and the ways in which I digest silence as though it is meat: I want more of it; I feel sick from it.
The mayflies, Lidia. The adults may live for only a few days and here they are, flustered and twitching around us. Could we be part of their final hours? They lay their eggs in water and then they sink. Perhaps these stars are the bulbs of light leading the mayflies to the bottom of lakes where their offspring wait. I have no such thing as bathing suit, Lidia. But we do not need to ask permission from this salt stream. Let’s just exist as one of them.
I should mention that I have a difficult time with authority, Lidia. We are given a warning when we trespass through a part of the earth that is still earth and I wonder why deer and cockroaches don’t give us humans these tickets. They were here first. When the police want me to travel inside submission, I grow louder. I flex my underarm hair because that is where the rebellion grows. And I whip out weaponry of red, stained notebook. Got poems shaped as bullets or bullet-shaped-poems. Got mosquito-bitten ankles and I wonder if we were all just given one day to exist, how we’d trample. There’d be no time for fear.
so what else, then…….but to survive on the presence of now.
Go the other way down the street. Pass the police tape: bumblebee yellow warning signs that someone has died here and will probably die here again. There is a need to understand everything. You interrogate; you want to know. You need to be inside the knowledge of sequential existence. Not everything can be understood all at once.
I have interviewed my body and it tells me not to let men near it. Until I fall in love and need to deviate against the norm of maleness. I have interviewed my body and it has asked me not to deliver so many drugs to its system and it tells me not to wear wallet in back pocket because it effects the way I slouch and it asks me politely not to eat so fast or so much at one time. My body really wants me to become a vegetarian again. It also needs me to engage in sex less often or with less partners and it prefers when I am sad because because. I have interviewed my body and it does not like to wear bras, but it does like when I smother all evidence of what exists beyond beyond. My body and I are engaging in a treatment of silence.
Turn left and you will find an abandoned baseball cap advertising a team that has more players hitting steroids than home runs and if you had perfect vision, you might notice the blood splatter toward the rim. (Good thing your glasses are dirty and slathered in scratches). You ask the police officer what happened and he really can’t say but you push and you press until you hop back on bicycle and travel away from where you need to go because in life there are some detours that aren’t desired.
My body is expanding. It is getting closer to a home again and this is causing it to shake. It likes its wander. It likes the randomness of beds and bathtubs. It wants to be underground. It fears synchronized breathing and is terrorized by the skin that encases it. My body wants to understand all of this and there is that need and not everything can be. And not everything needs. And not all of this is understandable even now.
One does not have to be abandoned in order to leap into a lake made of hitchhiked creatures in order to decide where “I’m from” means.
I’m from the tunnel of my mother. Rent controlled studio apartment inside her body that housed me for nine months plus two days. Fed me trees marinated in soy sauce. Ate cake without plates or individual portion control.
I’m from the other side of that river where the scent of discarded life wafts inside windows and strip malls and strippers and striped hair and everywhere you look: corporations and franchises.
I’m from that howl housed inside the beard of Ginsberg and Plath’s gas mask and Sexton’s cigarette fumes and the poets that do not wait for stages: they do not wait to be announced: they need no introduction: instead, each breath is an admittance of line break and desperate call of language.
I’m from a body that is watered and hungry and in search of in search of in search of.
I’m from that evening you poured red wine inside ceramic mugs and we crushed sidewalk cracks with our cracked heels and I’m from that nectar squeezed out of carefully cut mango, sucked tropics out of its sour and picked out rind from my teeth for days.
I’m from plucked strings and exploding pens and letters written on disconnected bark.
I’m from addiction and sobriety and can’t we all just call ourselves survivors because amidst the disfigurations, we still exist we still exist we exist.
It was there all along. And everything waited and everything remained. Sometimes you have to retreat with another to remember to remember that existence exists beyond love affairs and sweat. These hours are fleeting; so how do you want to suck on them to arrive at the strongest taste.
Sometimes you have to give it up. There are only so many memories minutes in a day. Ration the tears, the swallows, the gallops of gluttony. Some don’t come back. Most will never return. When you feel something drip on your head, it may either be a pigeon’s exit wounds or a reminder to look up.
The only thing you really need to do today is breathe.
This is all a blur. This is too big to carry on back with or without scoliosis or strength. This is too windy so that everything rushes out of pockets and everyone knows you can no longer get through a day without: chapstick, that rock they gave you, two tissues, tiny folded bits of poems, a pin that when you press it music blurts out, some nuts for protein, a pen with someone else’s name on it, the photo of them without you, some rain stolen from when it fell off some cloud somewhere captured in a pill box. These pockets are deep.
When they go missing, search milk cartons. Search lamp posts and grocery store cork boards. Search alleyways and abandoned warehouses. Search the forest behind their house. Search rooftops and fire escapes. Search other bodies and linger until some other sort of sensation arrives. When they go missing, buy a plane ticket, go to hospital, cry in front of an audience of strangers, walk around nude beneath midnight, have an affair with another part of your body, slam memory against brick wall and see what colors converge. This has nothing to do with you. Sometimes people need to exit in order to feel like they exiSt.
Unravel what has happened: death, four lost limbs that belong to another country, hunger, a mother that sips pills as breakfast, fear, that time a staircase lost its angles and tumbled away, silence, that memory that exists like a movie trailer with gaps and voiceover and who really knows what is really real anymore.