After a black swoop

After a black swoop through a wet slip of days, of unmarked time, the multiplied edges of walls and shadows and lines against the imperturbable sky creep toward their twins. Like sleeplessness and television hypnosis, the real edge won’t appear until those two questionable figments unite and you can reach out to trace a corner in its straightness and coolness. You try to ascertain which places those two manifestations are existing in, right at the moment you take them in. If one is in the haze of your sickness as it tapers, the other is waiting on the fringe of consciousness and clarity, but it is not more real, that tangible world of normalcy, because it is always out ahead and unattainable, like a man matching your paces. You only see his back, forever. You see things in a different way through illness. They become pure and separate from you, not stage sets enabling you to move through time, but existing in each second with you, both alone, both with questions for the other.

Not only do your surroundings approach registration, but the reappearance of your self is slow to arise as well. From the moment you collapsed in the Marquis, in an absence of sound and context, the chaotic aftermath slowly escalating and awakening about you has continued asymptotically approaching its previous fullness.

The sense that you are no longer sick may never root your vision.

As you arise through still waves of your senses as if you are growing from a smaller man inside, coming closer and closer to the skin in lessening muteness of the throbbing it transmits, but never quite to the surface, only enough to see what you might see with rigidly parallel eyes fixed together in space. After some hours you hear footsteps in the silence and a fingertip trace across the doorknob in the hallway and cascades of silent televisions down the hallway and trees aflame in the end of the day with wordless lullaby and when dark sets the not quite white wall you still face is brighter than the moon and emptier. Where it meets the floor is a straight line severing space. You notice the absence of the old cat and her striped stockings and her smile in profile and the messiness of your vision through her fur on the wing. She couldn’t have escaped, but slowly disappeared, waiting for you to stop her.

You were afraid he would come to your door, open it and see you standing against the far blank wall, that you might meet him on too familiar grounds and be too revealed, so you escape on foot with the hospital booties under your shoes back to the hospital where, if they were dead, or confidential, or green in the indirect pallor of sickness and fluorescence, people leave there traces. The more you chase transience you recognize the impossibility of not chasing it. The chase is the inevitability of reflection on the things you have left in your wake, the sacrifices you have made to consider yourself from recognizably different vantage points, over your own shoulder, but never eying a destination, only backward.

Different events punctuated what wore on to feel like a continuous thread of footsteps, if they could be passed off as such, barely lifted from the carpet, terrazzo, and asphalt, that your legs chased only to keep you from falling into nurses or propped up besheeted waxworks that might have brought you more attention than the efficiently empty and wide hallways would allow. There was never more than one person between you and the single vanishing point in the distance, and they were rarely the same person. The hospital was so large that the variables of shift, day, ward, and rotation, when you speckled upon their manifestations, presented you with an endless cast of monochromatic figures to impress in the hallway with your distracted purposefulness. You didn’t watch them long enough at awkward proximities to see if they were attentive to you and after they passed or you passed them or you passed by each other you stopped and watched over your shoulder to wait for their return glance, what you would use as a confirmation of distance, but they always found a door or side passage. No one ever walked the entire length of a hall. Although your beard grew and was caught in your mouth and grew into your nose, you began to grow suspicious whether you had returned fully from the syncopic hinge or whether the fluorescent light and the continuous green tile of the long hallways absorbed you in a way that only other people could register, although their recognition of its properties upon you was only possible through their inability to locate you in space.

You still slept in your apartment but never turned the lights on or walked there in the daylight. It was a dark secret. Your routes around the hospital swept outward over the days like an archaeological dig or the pattern of a masochistic jigsaw puzzler, from its tetherless core, windowless and still, the two-souled perpetual night of the morgue’s environs, the heart of the hospital where bodies go into recirculation, to the steel doors of labs and private rooms with small windows all flanking wide intestines of hallways with continuous plastic chair rail moulding that you sometimes tapped your finger along every few steps to hear the punctuation of the living across the hum of the fluorescent ballast, until weeks having gone by, you loosed your stroll from the ceramic subconscious of the hospital to its periphery where hopeful and ruined people passed with whispers of confusion through consistently indirect sunlight carrying mimeographed maps of the hospital layout, a collection of pavilions interconnected in some way that never revealed from within that it was not a single partitioned tomb until a morning, having appeared from your apartment refrigerated by the blue dawn onto the hospital campus, you began to walk in a wide loop around its periphery, and could see the markedly different buildings, infrastructure, and parking decks in various states of age and stylistic obsolescence. Where the sky and trees became visible between them similarly dressed people gathered, some crying, others shuffling in small groups that seemed reproduced in each furrow as if they hung at the hub of a radial pattern whose empty spokes you flickered past. At the far side of the complex, below a gravel embankment that rose up to a railroad track you found a steel door ajar at the base of a windowless cinder black wall that stretched up and across the breadth of the ridge without detail.

A train roared by above at the bend and looking north up the track before the curve you could see it lining up into the distance straight and imminent, barreling directly toward you before expeditiously hitting the bend and diverting away from your finale, and as the train kept plummeting through and the leading edge of each car hit the bend you felt anew the sensation of smothering in tons of steel. The hooting of the engines didn’t jar you like voices in motel rooms, but the vision of the countless wheels sliding clearly along the rails southerly, where the space between the wheels, a space of time sliced through by wheel after wheel bore in each split of second the cleaving your body in twain, head from body. It was the fear of no control, of the accident, the fear that you are not finally in control, and that the seconds that that train carried beneath it, were the same seconds that separated you from it, and you from the someday inevitable. The words lose their gut; you turn your back. It wasn’t you that diverted it but the tracks. In the segmented distance the sucking sound of the last car was audible in advance, as much as the last care was visible, and as it drew nigh the physicality of the roar increased and bore on your ears and its proportional increase terrified you of the approaching apogee more than a feeling inside might have drawn your senses inward and as you focused on expanding yourself outward against it the train was gone leaving a vast hole in the air, a place more empty than if it had not existed, but filled suddenly with grey light and a green spear long and tenuously diffusing across the gravel from the ajar door.

You felt it dividing you in all future moments enormous, containing all people in rabid sleep and smaller than yourself with your flesh dream inward, or more appropriately pressed inward by the anaerobic stomp of the train’s vacuum and by a tenderly automatic squeak that had the irregular rhythm of code. As you focused on the squeak it began to yawn, not growing louder, but filling its place as the single voice of morning. You were inseparable from it. You wanted to be deceived, pressured, consumed, enveloped, drawn into all the separate worlds of banal morning realizations at once, misconstrued, misappropriated, stricken with etches of ink out from your eyes to your fingers, and indirectly obscured, like the new moon, or a ghost is from life.

You pushed open the door swimming into the room with aquamarine dampness in the air that was electric filling a space not much taller than a man erect but slouched keeping the man who occupied it, sunken there, partly burdening his knees on the geographic stains of the concrete but also back assing the rhomboidal wooden crate that he rocked in a metronomic arc tasting the air with his eyes as if he was reading a script written into it or intently transcribing coded grave wisdom from the fluorescent lights, some gaseous instructions wrote you out of existence and passed right through to the silver sunlight and the cinders. His eyes widened and he pulled the skin of his face across his teeth and neck.

The movements that created his rocking sway were boneless, and although he was slender there was a cool gelatinousness to the thickness of his flesh that in that moment, in yourself briefly, placed you in front of a dated studio photograph of an aspic molded salad in the dubious lighting of some childhood’s brown kitchen.

The room was like the space behind a waterfall, useless for anything but hiding. It had an electric verdant odor.

His face was proudly present in the liquidity of the room’s light. The features were singular beneath his skin, but as he rotated his head from side to side stretches of wrinkles, finer than the grain of the light, cast a scrimshaw of delicate webbing that from certain presentations looked as if they held together some sort of soft apparatus with built up features over an unforgiving armature.

Although the moment was mediated by his distraction and the paste of light your skin felt a dusting of warmth like a paresthetic leg prickling out of tonic immobility whose awakening you owed to him.

He faced the door inscribed in black denim. Black liquid of immovable viscosity doubled beneath him.

His eyes tracked from corner to corner of the room, across you standing there, with the light directly overhead aligned between you as the darting of the reflective whites of his eyes from side to side of his face. He could barely keep his head up. It fell loose back behind his shoulders when he periodically shut his eyes and lolled there in the stupor of an awakening illness.

So many secret places exist in each transposition of narratives, bricks fall loose, words are misprinted, the sun breaks through illuminating dusty passages where you might have passed entranced by normalcy, you stumble to the ground fortuitously, or terror turns off your logic, you pretend to have family secrets, and you fill the empty well that becomes a smear to others, sometimes a crease in the air, sometimes a tic on your face, but never a visual destination or bearing on the compass of conversation. You and them stumble into each others secret places and in them, seeing the eerie glisten of the skin’s silent adhesive, you make your own secret place in its mystery where all the travelers are blindly collocated. The opportunities in higher level probability infrequently present themselves in the infinity of secrets, yet here you and he were in the purity of ritual, in the happenstance of geography, with absolute comprehension and empathy for this momentary private tragedy. Which I understand from a distance to have been inexplicable.

As his pupils crossed yours in interlocking tunnels connecting black soot stained catacomb territories, the purity of satanic introversion opened to you like a warm heaving throat inhaling the fog that was your body’s material. When they passed you felt the terror again of corporeality, and it swelled again and again in the text of his gaze until you felt the power to step away, feeling the gravel and cinders in the arches of your feet and cleavage of your toes.

You stumbled through cinders and long grasses divided and on rounded feet like bearings, your heartless panting swayed you like bellows in a stand and you rose again into yourself from where you and he had been with a conversation whose constellation was footsteps and voicelessly and without trail or immediate history to grasp, you were deep inside the hospital again, through a spatial warp like a coin operated billiards table and you sat in a ganged row of orange fiberglass chairs outside, or inside, a windowless metal door, where you were unable to move from the black, skinless, magnetized posture that trussed your limbs in stung obdormition. Another waystation to tell the story so that causes like births, deaths, chance encounters, and pandiculated admissions could continue to transpire as you loitered without feature. It took a mutability and deathlike stillness that matched yours to dislocate the centrality you felt fixed around you in order for other events to unfold prior to your reintroduction.

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