Flag Pond 05

My debilitation spread out from it. The weight of all the still air in the house settled on me like a glittering beige sack, swirled about that eye, and pulled me to the cold, smooth floor. My cheek ran outward in a molten tide; my body sank until it was flat, empty, projected on the boards. You draped over your arms and filed me in the bed clothes. I bunched into pleats. Speckles of feeling on my skin grip the fabric, grip the frame of the house. It is rain spots in my skin with its indescribable sound in many voices together whispering. Then a machine sound arises, an engine that then diminishes but leaves a furrow to haunt. I notice you floating shady up out of a greensick glow in the corner of the room like a deep sea prison guard at the mouth of a cave to ensure that I drown. It is still raining in the daylight that slips an ineffectual fingernail behind my curtains to peek in the empty room. You return in the dark and with the green light are inseparable, and the next evenings, until it is clear that you have claimed the routine toward whatever sad end you can steer it. I knew of course the helm was a more futile post in life. You took it with an absent but misguided relish and imprisoned me. You said those machines bore my life within their obsolete tubes and dials, that dust crept toward the relays, salt air precipitated on the housing and thereupon began a slow assault with the moist air I breathed to eat through the flaky painted metal and sew arid landscapes onto the circuitry that stood in for my anatomy. Yet one only needed to wipe it down with a rag to tend to it in the most cursory habit. You told me I would find myself as many phases of flesh, many perspectives of vision, yet never would I find myself part of you, that I contained part of you, my electricity, which was all I had left, and that I had it by your grace. A small beige diode, striped cryptically with once bold colors, constricts the electricity, controls my pulse, the meter of my mind could, independent even from you, Jack, fail at any time. I think you wanted me to know that as well so that I would be filled with fear even in the hours when I wasn’t expecting you and your rag. I didn’t fear you any more than time. The moth wings you had spat in fragments slick dried to powder and assimilated with the pekid floorboards before you returned at night. I say you when I am talking to you now only to tether ourselves to something because I don’t believe that this is me nor you that you or I were now that we happened to meet again. It is the only language I can put to it other than living through it again. Do you even know where we are? Is your name still Jack? Is mine still Jacky? We were always too similar, with too weak a grip on the world about us. Do you know that we entrusted reality to one another? The house disappeared in sea spray, the beach withdrew and out of it a foghorn on the little jetty groaned twice. Once for you, once for me. You’re here, I’m here. I would ask had you heard yours and you would ask had I heard mine. Then we were whole again, real again. The machines let out irregular hums in the dark. Wake up. Live. Waves sloshed and slammed on rocks. I noticed a brown river drawn out across the wrinkles and inscriptions of the sheet and the territories blocked out on the blanket. It didn’t flow nor did it have substance. Scum starched ridges stood on the banks where the initial floodwaters receded. The landscape ran to the twin post piles of my feet above a hollow in which a whirlpool had dried. I wasn’t a crying child. The bleak, cloud clogged day sky whitewashed my eyes; the hallway swam with radiant foam. The brown river ran to my chin and adhered up to a gritty patch of dust and drool. I wasn’t a productive adult. I stared for too long and it had made people believe I was a creep. I was willing them to see me too. So they did. I needed them to say, “There you are. You are here with us. You exist.” Nobody ever said it but you. And where have you gone? A tide of black humors arose in you. Behind such thin dams glistening mysteries are perpetuated. Drained into the open and exposed only a plain furrowed crevasse bathes in light. The mysteries hide what is drained: the obscurity itself. Though I believe what flooded into your eyes to be the surface of a more vast reservoir. Did you see me? When I was flat in that bed snoring that I also walked out onto the rocks. Did you see that I split into a swarm of little men? I made an infinite choice to disappear. Nothing disappears. We get lost. You needed to be looking at that precise moment but I knew you weren’t. From a cloud of vantages I saw you still involuted, twisted into a little pile of yourself. And that sea wind hauled up the steep cliff, pulling clouds up around our house, and pulled aloft and threw all of those little men out through the cracks in the roof, swirling around whatever country surrounded us, into a stew of avoidance, hidden in plain sight. None could you ever recognize from then on. Could you ever recognize me? I know it was me that you obliterated. That pain is imprinted in ever apparition of life that the routine of neglect loosed into the world. So must guilt bear into those repeated men in their repeated lives. What shades of it I feel in telling you all this must be faint against the fiber of self-loathing that weaves an insidious ache in your consciousness. I regret, for I know, the clarity with which we both see it now, in this audience with one another, is doomed to shrink back from the surface as the routine of our lives continues to replace it with cluttered empty distractions. That ache will be an anxious mystery again.

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