In the autumn

In the autumn you got an efficiency apartment, found the ditched car, and unpacked all of the contents, including a large, wise, brown cat. You hadn’t noticed how much had been left in the car. It seemed to be everything. Everything was just barely enough, for a long time.

You stayed inside during the day with no treatments on my windows watching people come and go. You saw a man beaten with a stick. You saw planes flying into buildings and you watched single engine aircraft with suspicion from the fifth floor of the brick building. The cat sat in the window the whole time, watching back into the room with wide eyes. Tall buildings were erected and the forests were consumed by a sea of railroad tracks, all running parallel through a gulch from jamb to jamb of your window. The clammy grog of Green River that medicates the sunlight was in you and in the apartment swelling your eye sockets like ice splitting your skull open.

In your living room cloudy light is burned out by the sun glaring through the blinds and cat fur is illuminated in flight. County contractors are sawcutting and jackhammering in the street outside. You have cultivated an ear for expressive quiet sounds. The gentle pat of folded laundry falling onto the stack or the shiver in the joints of a stretching cat, create silence, even in the din of the jackhammer. They don’t overwhelm it, but they create a small spatial echo of peace.

In the evening you brought pillows into your windowless kitchen and wrote lists of the things and settings strung together into prose with rhythmic, repetitive prepositions chased back through the day until you met that morning with the next. If you fell asleep you would took the bus out in the morning where you kept writing. The black characters were fastidiously small. You made a pile of string rather than a string of words.

Each moment of the day had its analog here. You didn’t play them out in order but you captured them all. You had a visual gestalt mosaic of the day as thoughts, complete in your mind, but tenuous as a granted wish. Every bit, each day breaking into finer grains, was a free visual impression tiled together into a silent and tepid model of cavern networks your bored with your eyes. Specific nouns, usually in the floret of adjective spirals were spun together with the connective tissue of prepositions reaching out to define the edges of the day’s space, but lacking verbs or adverbs that would kiss them to life. It was still. You could see into it, but not back out. Voiceless faces exchanged looks without context, meals without taste posed, nothing animated, shadows without shivers, stalled men forever in thought, finished structures on the horizon and landscapes immaculately conceived.

The process began creeping earlier into the day as the grain of the mosaics was refined. You preserved the waves of the cat’s fur in the varying shades of light as it stalked the air and as you gesticulated slowly to watch yourself move, each in the minute but increasingly frenetic focus of your eyes. The avocation crept across the day fully. It replaced the experiences you had begun describing so completely that your writings became solely about writing, what you saw in the movement of the pen, the distorted reflections in the polished silver ring you wore on your right hand, the shadows of the hair on your wrists like high grass interlaced, in less the physical realization, the index, of life lived, of time passed through, than the thievery of that life.

Without realizing it, those still moments in which your focus trained on an object, heated by circumstance, were the morsels of a past that you couldn’t cling to, once they were transcribed and discarded from memory, they sat forever in the present. The words eliminated you in the moments, with feelings on your skin, and retained only the things as if they contained all of the secrets and causes of the trauma or pleasure of banality found in the digestion of life. But there come moments, when all that has been invested in the object, or the setting, or the person, all of the power, is unraveled, when it does not reproduce its charms, or the anguish to which it was meant to be the cure persists even in its presence, and the bottom drops out of your past.

You have coffee again for the first time since the desert. It has been one week since you stopped writing. The lists repeated themselves and you began falling asleep before completing them and in the morning believing it was the same day as the last. When you stopped writing things started happening. The list was ink in a chrysalis. Somewhere in it, not in its meaningless parts but in it as a heap, was the mantra that removed you from time.

You have been riding the immense hush of the vacuum left in the absence of the written word, your dry voice, the desert still air. In the nights that are so silent that every creak in the air shocks your heart like a gunshot you have tamped the impulse to live backwards into the words that name the sounds. When you sleep you don’t seen the space of the silence as you thought you might: a broad valley with tangible air, where space and container are one, like molten glass filling a sand mold. You have been conjuring the feeling around your face of emptiness, like a silent shell to your ear.

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