Flag Pond 04

The house was tall next to the ocean. We lived there for my entire life. Some rooms seem to precede it in my wanderings but those rooms appear in the house as well with a bed and a table with chairs, a hidden window and some forgettable posterized watercolors in frames, dry grass, dry fences, dry flowers, brown leaves, mauve petals, dusty even in the aqueous strokes and splatters, the broad wall of a tumbledown farmhouse, a curling wave glowing with the liquid of a bright green eye running pulled tissue veins, a chocolate brown rock, dust roads, dusty paths, footprints in sand; those rooms are in other houses but in ours also. You passed the time avoiding me. Doors shut quietly. You called out in your sleep or feared that you would and slept beneath pillows but still awoke as if you were being crushed with a breath of shock, the beginning of a savage shriek, then silent again. The sounds rose on hot air through the staircase and balustrade, aloft on dust in the dark. Scratching bird feet stirred on the roof. In the direction of the ocean they skittered into flight or just fell silent. Sometimes in my thin sleep you were standing in the doorway glowing green in a cyclone of beads which caught up other magical, impossible colors. I choked myself awake seeing the medical equipment gone and me breathing unaided. The room was draped with fabrics in vertical stripes. It had an empty sophistication that I recognized as unachievable in our lives. Somehow we had always hung just on the verge of some particular appearance, something recognizably us. But, our too loose pants, the cut of our beards, our crusty eyes, nondescript blouses formed a general impression that we were imposters even to our own aspirations. This was at least the way I saw you, the way I knew you looked at me. For who else was there? You spoke in whispers in the stairwell to someone. To someone you told stories that were meant to ambiguously characterize either yourself of your acquaintance long past, or some inherited anecdotal character, as a man desperate to snuff out his companion. White limbless tree trunks were washing on the shore and lifted on high collections of boulders black with crevasses where deep, seemingly below sea level, brackish water infrequently plucked down the flat white sky. Someone in a building we couldn’t see, certainly in a building because it was blunted, burned through scales on a piano, growing faster, growing, endlessly in the same patterns of perfect crystalline mathematics that reduced beauty to an imperative, disembodied urge, fleeting, whose notes I quickly forgot as the drills rose an octave. The pulpy logs reminisce of their lost material origins, cast more of the white paste dissolved from skin on most toes than fibrous and vibrant wood tissue. We walked out across the rocks each dusk. The routine of it was luxurious. Nothing prior to that election, which insidiously began as the accident of enough dusk walks in a row to become recognizable, ever formatted the functions of my life about the great chasm of liberty required to repeat a voluntary action on a rigorous yet arbitrary interval. The pace of it entered my form like an additional pulse or process. As I became a concentrated machine of dependability and intention however the house around me, the gauzy landscape and hesitant shadows, even you seemed to become tenuous in form and constancy. The rocks piled in the jetty each day were unstable, never having the same shape, same chasms, never the same light falling on shallow pools in pits suspending the dregs of aquatic life. I sought patterns outside of my pattern, at least hoping to find some sort of totem in the soup of each day, each facet of my routine to prove that I was indeed returning to the same place. I struggled to corroborate the standardization of my life that I loathed. Some imperfection of color in your dark iris would validate that it was you returning with me. One evening something different floated into your eye as I snuck long surveys through their webby domes. The iris was dark, like yours, a sunken cup of tempting mold. From its imperfect tissue an obsidian spot expanded, sewn outward in black emptiness separate from your pupil but of the same secrets, expanding in transit until it left your iris like a planet rise into the sclera. Before its centroid breached the iris, this second hint of an iris stopped. It wasn’t you any longer, for certain. I hurried down the jetty and appeared in my room. I can’t be alienated enough. I couldn’t be beaten senseless enough. I began to distrust the solid and moist puzzle of my hidden organs. I had no more power over them than the ocean. When you came to me that night the iris of that eye was no longer there, just an off kilter, yawning pupil.



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