Put whiskey in my tea, put whiskey in your tea, do laps around the house. I put a persimmon on the windowsill to ripen it but it never does. Weeks later, months later, it is still hard as a rock, that orange ripe color mocking.
The dog hair is an issue. It accumulates so slowly it reminds me of geologic time. I try to catch it happening, to see the piling, but I can’t. There is only either an empty corner or a huge soft drift of black hair.
I want to write about your face, but the truth is, I can’t remember. It’s changed. If I play that one album, the one with the overlapping rainbow bison heads, I can hear the track where you throw a bottle at the wall behind my head. Your drumming gets softer. There is a pause like you might stop, but you keep going, hitting the drum like you want to break its tight skin; get inside. The band plays wildly with you, inspired. When the madness ends, when it is just the ringing of your ears, you can hear a gasp float across the room. You do not hear the thud. You do not hear the heart of me dropping to the dirty floor, you do not hear me pushing hot bodies to get to you, you do not hear me asking What? What? Or my hand on your chest, pushing you lightly into the crash, feeling we gave birth to something new, something outside in the snow, mewling while we walk in ever widening circles, getting further and further away.
I give my Schwinn to Sequoia, because she doesn’t have a bike yet. She is from Southern California, tall, blonde, 21. She moves like a tree, so I don’t think it’s a dumb name anymore. I only hear her through our common wall, eating burritos with her friends, giggling all night on mushrooms, playing the same five chords on her guitar. I get bits of what she says at three in the morning: “I have a slug infestation in my room.” I try to imagine what this looks like. I my half sleep I picture them languidly climbing up her windowsill, leaving rainbow trails in their wake. I think of my own line of marching ants that start from a certain corner and exit near my window. I would rather have the slugs.
The girls wear leopard printed pants, long curly nails in neon colors, as they make the windows. Maybe it is because of the stark white walls and gray floor, but it is some real Technicolor shit, watching them work. There is one wall that is supposed to be an artist’s wall: our boss says to hang stuff up there because we are all so talented. The wall is about ten feet across and fifteen feet high. There are a few postcards tacked there, in the middle: one explaining an opening for an art show, and the other a postcard I mailed to myself from Mexico. I never see any other art.
Today was OK. You would’ve liked it. It was a short-order day, with lots of eggs just scrambled. The cook read a short book on Voltaire while I flipped his eggs. He kept his cigarette ash out of the salsa. It’s a strange time. The neighborhood is changing. The trees are growing up; pizza places are cropping up like mushrooms. No one is from here. California reigns.
I thought everything was going fine. Now I am scheduled for a fistfight with my landlord. Don’t worry, I have a few tall boyfriends with pine baseball bats. I have a big dog that slobbers. I have a bunch of hair that I will not tie in a braid. Loose hair like water that he can’t catch with his hands.
Don’t worry. This is not a game, but it’s not entirely serious, either. I will go back to myself after the fight. I will think about what went wrong; what I could’ve done differently. Lord knows I’m not a fighter! I will stare at myself in the mirror and see my pupils big as saucers. That’s the body, you know, taking care of my pain. I have a low-flung kind of pain, always, anyway.
It’s a high up close to tears pain, but I just say the same thing over and over at work, so it’s OK. It’s like acting.
Today was OK, overall. But the neighbors cut down their plum tree. They were out there, on the street, eating Cheetos and cutting down a plum tree.
When I come to you
Bisected, marked up and down
In black ink or gesso,
When the cats pray to their gods
And the road is a ribbon we later toss,
All the sky conspires to be
Unlike a horizon,
a line that levitates
And the space homes look like tents,
Something temporary, untethered
Before the storm
I said I would be back before then,
Tying all my noodles on sticks,
Listening to sounds and images
Dressed in light,
How close they came to saying something
I believed to be true.
In my dream,
he brings me a onion plant.
He says I have nothing,
he says how can I live like this?
I buy him a carton of Winston’s for Christmas.
I keep them in the bottom drawer of the bathroom.
In my dream
I am practicing
how to tell him this dream.
Bells, vibration, and melody wake us up.
I was in a cabin, I say, I had nothing.
You invited people over. You gave me an onion plant.
Cool, he says. The bulk of him warm
and he’s as foreign as a new animal.
Clipping the old man’s nails, it seems inhuman to grow anything so strong, the ridges mirror the whorls in his fingers he kisses my arm and I ignore this, follow the curve of nail over finger. This part is like a moon, too. He forgets what I’m doing and moves too much. I snap at him. Feel like a mother, since his family has left for California. This is where I come to save you. Already the night has threatened while I pretended to dream. The fire would be beautiful and violet-edged. The fall would be exactly like the earth opening. The heat would drop you to sticky slumber, reminding you of the womb. The gas would touch you like a memory, then drop your eyelids, heavy. I am here to save you. Stumbling in with love wounds and shaky hands. Here to chop wash cook mop sift empty and close. Put back what you thought should be out. Take the dolls from the walls and the flags from your collars. (But I leave the rubber bands in the fridge, ‘cause I, too, think they are happy there, cold and nestled into themselves…we both put our fingers into the bowl, satisfied.) He has hidden the fan again. I have to take the bananas from the microwave. Put the ice cream back in the freezer. Sift through what seems like years of junk mail—red inked pleas, Native American girls with matted hair, the horse murders, the NRA… Nancy Pelosi has written him a personal letter. These are my moons. These are my ridges. This one, this purple one, is from a bruised heart door slam in the heat of a southern summer. These are the scars from Iraq when fixing planes. Red planes. Small wings. The way they lifted like grasshoppers up into the sky. I hold his hand and clip his nails. Everyone knows the only way to cut someone else’s nails is to pretend they are your own.