The day sun lays bare fragmented shells of pale stucco standing immobile in tightly spaced and regular increments along every eastbound street. Amidst walls closing the city into unforgiving patterns, she follows the breath of a character that promotes a more meandering order upon its current. But faced with the rigid city, she cannot move or take action, increasingly quiescent to the debasement that clothes inaction. The city grid does not yield; it lines up breezes that skirt her and dance charitably from the sea to lay their golden kiss upon the recumbent dingbat facades. She and the east sky are dim, silhouettes idly welcoming dusk with that treasonous false zeal that eventually accepts a preference for awakening its own shadowy inhabitants over the waning hope for streetlamps.
In a shifting stand of weak beige grass between a fence and the street, a sheet of red paper leans limply. Stride on stride, her gray canvas slip-on shoe reaches the paper which she shuffles out of the reeds, and taps it lightly with the ball of her foot onto the sidewalk where it lays face up. The paper is softened in spots, worn gently, eroded, folded into a pocket, sat on, furrowed, with timid voices of wear. Three Bedroom Apartment for rent, Venice, freshly painted. Most of the paper is feathery mauve with blooms of pure red. She curls her toe inside her shoe, whose sole, at its tip, falls open, her stocking toe transfers the paper to her hand, where she refolds it and places it in the breast pocket of her smock, on the chest side of a thick stack of worn cards and scraps.
I wait through the reflective moments. In the space of time that light laps against the opposite wall and returns to me, it carries my hope, my regenerative avoidance, in an array of tidy arranged views across appointed tables and out windows through swaying leaves, rooms filled with light, a breeze playing through the open window, through my hair, dries my lips and the walls. I can only conjure so much. If anything assembled in the flash of magic at dawn, an unveiled life that I had forgotten about, I didn’t want to open my eyes on to it. Watching something happen is less believable than happening upon it. I need to set this day apart to be something. I close my eyes before it becomes another, with the last, without the fullness that I picture from deep behind my eyes.
The cyclical readjusting, contortion, rasping, and decay of a clouded mechanism through the poses and gestures of an indoor night necessarily reoccupies many variations of its conception. This body machine is the stored series of instantaneous states of its own history, all existing internally and concurrently. Only in isolated moments is there clarity to the actions when compared with one another. From out in the frays of focus, in the frosty blue and pale of fluorescently lit dew, the limbs, patterned into a specious wholeness, do not support the corporeality of a machine, but of many bodies and perspectives. Every limb that flexes forth from its cavern to deflect the dewy integument is part of an imperceptible geometric chain of events that brings the whole mass to a metered quiver.
Moments make other moments. Moments and moments and moments make things. In the courtyard, around the corner, your breath falls and unfurls from your face around walls, stairs, arcades, still water, overlooks, wrought iron railings, and salt caked windows to a chink in horizontal blinds the size of the thickness of her pointer finger. From the dark she watches you in the dark laying, low, looking through the streets and canals. The footprints in sandy banks and estuaries lead back to things that you have touched and arranged. The cups, towels, bedclothes, scraps of paper, shining tools, black oily pools, tea bags, gun blue filings, and chips of enamel are loosely picked up on the tide far behind you, roll away, sink, wash ashore, gather, and wind up in her apartment.
In the unanswered dark you devolve into adrift senses, a geometrically consistent question on the slow current. You are a question of time and setting and vessel, and then you are a question of character and action, and then you are a question of motivation, or lack, and effect, and then you are a woman’s body, and then you are the dark itself where everything is effect, everything is in question, and then you are all of the questions and all of the things. Nothing can begin without a change, without seeing your hands out before your eyes, without something beyond them, or this is the end, the beginning is lost somewhere at this precise moment but just out of plane, in an adjacent plat, a tangent in the murk, and it has all happened and will all happen without anything at all.
She is roused to motion when the car rocks forward and leans back to her left shoulder, facing north. The apartment blocks cycle past, Bruneau, Palm Plains. Captured along streets bound in the logic of the city each skirting beneath the graying horizon she is too low a thing to exist in them all at once. Being only here, in the immediacy of forgetting, glazing over the road ahead, she fails to come to an understanding with the grid, her places in it. She lets her eyes ride the rolling scape of the gently sloping roofs about whose crests the streets lay in a panoramic network. She gestures projected envy across the yellowed roofs and laces her fingers together to block them out. Diffused light scallops her face borrowing an icteric pallor from the hazy dusk horizon.
Venice, wade into the intersection of afternoon, awaken from napping sunshine, out from the shadowy grog cast by apartment buildings, Camera d’Oro, Canaletto Breeze, onto the sidewalk. Pale sunshine falls across white asphalt in small, hesitant, changing reflective paces, each connected in potential with the entire stretch of road in either direction, to horizons of sorts, where the road slopes ever upward out of the sea, to dense highwalled islands, within whose chambers and passages the horizon and the sea fall away, left only inscribed across eyes that have just left them and see them in every window ledge, kitchen table, and expanse of blue carpet dappled with floes of yellowed green. Awaken from a nap of hours inland to sunlit grog, inland, any place without eyes on the sea.
If I can make myself see through the brick wall, or look all the way through the mirage of time, through this lump that will be a day, when I sit still in it, seeing myself crepuscular in the next morning, in the same place but a different person, who maybe isn’t running, or collapsing, it makes me have no need for hope, only acute vision. With my eyes closed I feel these things. I don’t need to compare them. I need only to feel the water wick’d from the air and from my sheets, to know that I should stack pillows and blanket where the bed nests into the corner, and entomb my head within it. I need to set aside a day that makes a nick in my life that others will fall into. How do I do that. When I open my eyes, everything will have already happened. The segments overlap.
In isolation individual limbs may be scrutinized. First station, first body. Each limb registers each knot in the textile pattern on which it lays through a contract with gravity and sleep. Following one another in implicit agreement, the perpetually shifting relationships within the body are nothing more than the calculated repetitions of the machine. The thigh normal to the floor on which the knee, bearing, draws it to the calf, which extends 20º above level touching at its tapered tip the cleavage of two thighs drawn tight by the groin at floor level. Involuntary movement does not begin; it is borne from the last. An eddy, registering in the dewbank, is borne by the movements that precede it and the breath in which it occurs. The knee rasps across the rug. Full close.
You lay in the dim but not concealed. All traces lead to you and they will be traced. The only hiding is in moving or drowning. In the night the city empties. Light recollections trace drapes back over the horizon leaving your stolen moments of the day bobbing or sinking into the sea to come at you again from the opposite horizon at dawn. This is a windowless room, the door ajar and nothing but a disembodied light floating beyond view. There is nothing in the dark night but what this little hollow has captured. You lay wedged in place on the floor. In the empty night the space you fill is endless. You cannot move because in the emptiness there is nowhere you are not. The world is snuffed out. You are only where you are because she sees you there, and you have been there so long.
This is the only dark place. It is awaking lost and misshapen and not even awake. It is between. All of the moments that freeze you in disintegrated poses are waystations between some forgotten fall, the failure of live birth, every morning, and the torrent of light, casting enough shadows through the chasms that divide you to make you look whole, but spectral. The breathless scribblings that ink your sleep, that pause time for your body to tremble automatically, write the dawn and day just the same. They are never silent. They fold opaque paper around you and seal you from the city, stealing the immaculate communications between what you want and what will happen. There is either nothing or a solid cloud of light. There is either chaos or a timid tomb.