Consciousness, with its frayed edges, haunts the ends of night in every direction, draped over the crest of an avenue, pouring into the mouth of a cavern, forcing entry to an empty apartment, her movements draw it no nearer because it is the night that must move and has moved over her; nights black arrival placed the city of streets within each of her closed eyes. Each vessel cradles silvery white tears filling the basin of the plains, running forth from each damage befogged eye. The loose memories of lights trailing across chrome coagulate into groups of obstacles, enclosures, distances, stretches, and arms waiting to open. These afterimages of the night from which she continually flees assemble and float fore from the crepuscular glimmers of damp airy crests on these old buried seas.
The walls, which let out to hidden spaces on the passageway where shadow breaks its continuity, are a fresco of multiple occupations. Where surfaces meet, layers of the back story fall away revealing strata of heavy paint coats, murky, translucent colors gleaned from discarded objects catching sun through filmy water in which they are suspended. Light filtered through drifting clouds of wet fur clotted with household dust, when passed through a soiled teal bath towel, from which the brackish water dissolved plumes of brownish red, casts subdued seagreen and old gold from which a character or pigment can be extracted. In the reflection is another reflection in a vanity mirror, through the ajar door. Pulsing fluorescent light on the edge of a tub. Hands pull downward on a towel.
Gray clouds filled in from the horizon to just beyond the breaking waves out from the sand. I see the rain draped across the water turning it from black to gray. The sky was hot white over the sand and the city. I scanned from north to south and slowly back. Two slender white hands surfaced out of the black water near the shore buoyed in clutches of foam. The tide was receding. I had watched it pull away from my stocking feet. Long salt faded hair swayed out of the blackness forward flowing between the hands. Should I show alarm. I was alone. Faces bring people. Her paper white hands let into bare arms and the billowing sleeves and shoulders of a soaked blue dress. I had started looking at still things to feel myself disappear while those things became real. I gave myself to real things.
The bodies exhale vaporous sweat drawn out or condensed to the skin. Pulmonary currents unfurl the body cloud out in pleats that lap and curl over themselves and through the air. These folds carry in their breath the fleeting moments of introspection between the incessant action of the body and the absent listlessness of the awake. There is nothing to see in a pleat but the opposite side. The cloud grows to fill the entire cavern refracting the rug with its floral pattern, the slender stria of blonde light from the mouth of the space, and the body itself, out to which embracing virga reach and fade into transparent chills before making contact. While it decays, the cloud body, from every vantage point in the hall, refracts the clothed body and it draws in a breath, and draws in the cloud.
She watches you step across the damp tile. Your stocking feet leave grainy impressions, buff away bare personal footprints. You step pointedly on old footprints. You hide in your footsteps, thrown across the city. They are hers, or hers, theirs. You can’t start guessing tonight. She saw them fall, press in and the sea lap into them, you struggled across the pavement, spiraling around apartments and parking lots. Footsteps to the window, standing tall on toes, to the kitchen table, pausing, stepping backward to the door, straight ‘cross the carpet, feet falling at vacuum seams, straight ‘cross the carpet and slowly into shadow soft stockings slide. You hide out beyond your footsteps, beside her empty gaze, curling around door frames, table legs, feet stacked side on side your legs drawn upward.
You don’t ask for the burdens or projections. You put yourself on display, but only in a blankness that can’t take a shape, or a trust. You are a show, a cipher. Against blank pastel walls you lose your edges. What comes, comes. What you become, you become. You notice absently, in the passing of time, a sourness in the way you line up with your surroundings. Will you being in a place make it less of a place. Does it cave in to your diaphaneity. They change your edges. They make you something on the verge of annihilating them. Do they need you. They want to end. You will witness it, to make it certain. You might have fallen with it all before. Every day is a catastrophe that you don’t set aside, or every day is a chance, you stumble across them when you wander.
An apartment block, a gable roof falls lower to one side and a voided blank wall is relieved from the night with glossy edges and shades of nothing against a field of pale. The White Plains, The Moondial, The Distant Trace. This figure has conditional transparency. With certain approaches of her attention it ceases to dwell there at all, it becomes the next or prior in the series. It is a specter of a home. It is home, dreams strewn across clouds, an apparition with eyes shut. With her open eyes it sits mutely across black lawns and squares itself against the city, unpaints itself of light and depth. The moonlight falls blankly upon it. The emptiness is more vast than the night that surrounds it, it cultivates sheen and multiplies the dull burn of the sky.
A mug, tossed into the still water, floats upright for some time. Breezes or wakes begin to toss ribbons of wavelets over the lip into the vessel so finely that the liquid merely runs down the inside wall and begins to pool. The final wavelet corresponds with the precise weight of the pooled water and the vessel is pulled beneath the surface. The sun casts across it a filthy sallowed bone hue. The edges of these colors, the old potential evacuations built up into a whole forgotten shell, a sandbar full of empty shells, peel away around the dim door jamb underneath her fidgeting and tracing fingernails. Her thumbs spread across the outer surface of the door jamb. Your feet, shod in bright white sneakers against pale green and gold outdoor carpet, jut over the dusty wood threshold.
When I had real time I filled it with loss. I had watched things and come back to them over and again to find the bits of myself I had given over to them. Everything I knew was contained in other things. I had watched the sky without the ocean but knew the ocean was there, behind all of the buildings and reflections. If all that I am balanced between the sky and the stacked and ordered debris in my apartment then there was nothing to catch the day on but a new sky or new things. I didn’t want to let her rise up out of the water. Where would it all go. I have stored so much in compartments and stacks that this errant instant which I had prepared for myself wouldn’t fit. I won’t let myself see her stand up off of her knees in the soft sand and walk up into the sun and the white sky.
Beyond home, clouds occupy repeating frames, each encompassing all that is seen. For the body becoming cloud, all that is visible is that cloud, seen through itself, seen occupying distant extents, curling around the midnight. To see the body is to ignore all that it is seen against, to register without context its poses and gestures. A rug, a filigree of mottled hortulan knots, is seen in each frame the cloud occupies. The roving gaze cannot discern seams which would define the repeat of ordinary textiles. The cloud is the window upon which the entire night composes itself. Mauve, periwinkle, beige, pale rose, taupe, cornflower, and sand tinged characters with diaphanous profiles refracted through each beadlet in the cloud, grade into one another in a barely discernible tessellation.
Your fingers are hooked into a claw, now, and earlier, when she watched you pausing on the sidewalk outside the black steel gate, you held your dress at the hips, your fingers pressing thin floral fabric into palm, and pulled up on your skirts, pushed the fabric back on top of your hips; a tartan seam circumscribed your knees. You looked up at the window, slowly passing and never stopping in a sweep to the horizon. You smooth the skirts over your thighs. Your curled hand fits over the rim of a pale green bathtub, a doorknob covered in paint, a cool dry mug, wrists, the heel of a shoe, a fluorescent light bulb, soft earth, the oceanic horizon. She appeared large from the window, looming absently in the distant outdoors, and stood upright, pausing on the sidewalk.
When something disappears it has no other corroboration than what it left behind. There isn’t a story. Passing time around you empties the days ahead to a catalog of perpetual loss. There are always more things, more loss. Where do things go when you forget them, when they are gone and gone from you? Are they preserved, desiccated in the sun but still the same? Do they linger in shade? Do they become an inscrutable part of you, the skin on your back, your neck? Are you coursing with dross? You don’t make things happen, but you are there when they do, they don’t happen to you but you are forced to follow their repercussions through the days and wonder what they have done to you. When the sun sets you sit awake through the night. It is safer to see everything than to have it.