Flag Pond 03

That was when tubes found their way to me and breathed. All at once I was senseless there across the room in those machines and also in the bed, conscious but separate from life. I rang a bell to let you know that we lived. I can’t say you neglected me. You returned every evening to sit in the hallway light that came up the stairs and around the corner. It stopped, viscous but without edge, before entering my room. How close can two people be yet still bear no repercussions of one another’s needs and deviations? You tested that. Why did we even need to see one another? What purpose did that serve? Some old human part of you was still alive, the part I gave over to the machines. You buried it beneath grainy and thick darkness. You buried it in narcotic sand. With the sand is refracted another sky, more pure and unblemished than that we lived beneath; it is white, the light of the moon on black ocean water. I fell in love with the machine that lived for me. Its green eyes squint lazily, come hither, freshly dreaming, bloodless afterwards; old skin loses its color and life. Through the beige plastic and metal old tubes and wires plotted. Life is very long. A dull expulsive pulse spun through the vacuum of a late night. When I next saw you on the murk of morning pale and floating into my room the air smelled stale. Your jars of blood chilled in the ice box. The house was stifling when the sun actually shown. You controlled nothing. Your reptilian aphaeresis sought some clammy sleep but until your blood cooled you were a hot sack. You left the food further from my bed to dry and curl. The beige equipment on the far wall was older in the sunlight. You trusted me to that while sitting in a room with heavy oilcloth curtains. Amidst crowds of people I force myself to feel the most alone. In face the features wash into the hair or clothes. Every nose is the same nose; all eyes or flat; mouths all purse on air silenced by my disinterestedness. I only see the nuisance, the drain. Still, trapped in this room I trust in those feelings, that my bondage is deliverance, that the destruction of my brain was an assumption to a vague fabric that blotted out human forms. The sounds place the house on a little town square. Peddlers have blankets spread out with sad inventories of cellophane tape and cloth patches for old denim and postcards with brief salutations. All around shutters are open for dawn to creep into the quiet rooms. Solitary sleepers huddle close to the floors and against baseboards lazily silvering, drawn in early confused shadows. The peddlers whisper. You are downstairs asleep in a tattered armchair. Your sleep is audible not in snores, not in breaths, but in a rush of the world’s air over the horizon where you awake would have tried to slip. The sound of folded laundry, the sound of a cat stretching, the sound of ink on soft paper drying all weave in that wind. I begin to sing a song that you sang to me, just words without a tune, barely words, more whirring and tinkling of the voice. I swept it into that wind of dawn. As the sun grew louder I elevated with it and the skin around my forehead contracted. The wailing sank into me and filled the blood in my skull, doubling it, pressure building but I could not stop the song. As the expansion of the noise in my blood wrenched my brain I envisioned it loosed out the window twisting the clouds with fabulous pain. Joy lingered in forever exhaling, disappearing. Why didn’t you say: O, child, O, Jacky, you might be experiencing a house falling down. But, that is not so. It is your breathing sensing your mind exiting your body. As soon as your mind is out of your body you will see lights surrounding you. Do not be scared of them or become panicked. If you recognize the light it is the light of your family. If you can’t recognize it it is the light of the lords of the dead. So, don’t be frightened. Listen carefully, please. You might find a river of ashes. You might find a swamp of filth. You might find an opening to a brass tube filled with the odors of burnt food. You might find a path with many gates. Please don’t follow circle these landmarks. Instead return through the central fold of your body, that shadow you know which is wide open at the top. Above your head is a sparkling, luminous display, a pure end, not forever spiraling into finer textures of the same choices, but a terminal basin, the bottom of a quiet cave that is in fact the stillness of the highest space, the stillness of a bird asleep in flight.

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