Wednesday, July 31, 2013

(until yesterday I hadn't seen Tyrese in eight days)

Until yesterday I hadn't seen Tyrese in eight days. Yesterday I checked through the blinds of the back window, as I have every day since beginning to care for the cats, and there he was again, sitting in front of the chain link fence. "Tyrese came back!!!!," I texted.

Now I am sitting with the phone playing ads and lousy muzak beside me, waiting to tell the underpaid customer service representative that I refuse to be taken advantage of any more than I already have been. So far I have wasted 25 minutes, trying to make justice happen.

Corn Plant has put up another shoot. It is small, light green, and delicate, hugging the bottom edge of Corn Plant's thick strong stem. More than six years of straining ever so slightly upward, and suddenly new growth appears. I noticed the bud the day my nephew was born.

His face is squinchy, thick and smooth, and a little skeptical. He stares with one eye squinting into the camera, clutching the red crab sewn onto his chest. When my sister calls I hear him hiccuping into the phone. I have not met him yet but I feel like I know him already. I hope we will be the best of friends.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

(or something is moving us apart from each other)

I feel all my friends are moving away from me, or I am moving away from them, or something is moving us apart from each other. In any case the end result is the same. I feel as if I am standing at the bottom of a very deep well, its cool stone walls dry beneath my fingers. I am not necessarily scared there, and I am not even, or at least not always, anxious. What I do feel is alone, and a little dazed, unsure of what to do next as I look up at the sunlight above me, blinking.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

(hair ties and principals)

We have decided to use poison. The decision was not made lightly. Still I have consented to spreading 12 canisters of toxic chemicals throughout the kitchen and bathroom. The reason is that roaches were spreading across the apartment like the ivy up Allison Conroy's dad's house in middle school, and to imagine them infiltrating my bedroom is to imagine myself taking to the streets, a suitcase in one hand and a toothbrush in the other. It is enough that they have crawled into the cupboards, the fridge, and across our clean dishes and food. I have tried the natural methods and they have failed. It is was my choice and I made it. May they all die, quickly, and may I rest in peace.

Meanwhile a mouse ran into the bedroom today, tiny and quite adorable, really, though my intent was not to ogle it but to shoo it away from the mattress by sweeping it gently with a broom. Instead it dashed across my foot and into the hole by the pipe that runs from the boiler through the apartment to the second floor. I am reminded of my own memories-- of choosing to live in a cabin with a family of mice and a lost bat or two-- and attempt to take solace in them. I have done it before.

Edwidge tells me that creation is an act of revolution, and of course I agree. Still I struggle to accept the responsibility of such a movement. To create is to release an expression into the world and watch it be twisted and crunched and rotated and expanded into something other than what you believed it was or ever would be. Thus I am learning: the responsibility lies not in the result and certainly not in the conversation, but in the making.

I imagine her climbing up that hill, thirteen hours of effort to see an old aunt whose best friend remains her deceased daughter, whose hands press hot coffee from burlap sacks at dawn. I am struck by the memory of Bangor Forest, the beginning of March and still frozen in ice. We skated our hiking boots across miles of trail, departing once from the path to sprint up a short hill. It was yellow with fallen grass, pockets of snow giving way to waterlogged soil and only the bravest of tiny green shoots. The sky narrow, textured with clouds and the memory of snow.

The star-spangled ball bounces across the crowns of our heads and tips of our fingers. He grasps it with one hand and begins to dance. I stare mesmerized as my body moves.

Two weeks ago I danced in the rain and the cold, for hours I danced and as the weather defied me I held my ground, shaking my stinging wet hair and laughing, and shouted from my mind I will not leave my people. We kept each other standing that night, and the music kept us alive. Fire burned in my torso; I knew who I was again, and knew how powerful that means.

Recently I realized that I have trouble relinquishing control of labels. I name everything I relate to, including inanimate objects, and I hesitate to allow anyone else input. Perhaps it is because I am afraid of what I will be called. So I busy myself with grand shows of perfectionism as a form of distraction while assigning names, loudly, to the new spatula and the guitar, to the cats out behind the apartment and the mice running around inside of it.

Two days ago I asked him to name the wooden fish, and though I did not like it I consented to the referent Baxter. Forty-eight hours later I would not think to call him anything else.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

(the heat in the apartment has killed all but one of the plants)

The heat in the apartment has killed all but one of the plants. Those who have died were my friends and I mourn them. Only Corn Plant remains, my companion of more than six years.

If I left a dog or a child in this place they would die. In the meantime I have purchased a cactus. It is covered in sharp spines and sits angrily by the window, yearning, I imagine, for a drier heat. I have named him Marcus Martin. We will try to get along.

I have adopted three alley cats who come every night to the concrete beneath my window. They are quiet, respectful of me and, for the most part, each other. The big orange one takes what he wants of the food I leave out before the calico slips in for a few bites, then slinks to the shade to lick herself. Meanwhile Tyrese has yet to feed, or at least not under my supervision. S/he is orange and white and so small, bony. Flies cover him as he sits all day long with his tail curled round his feet. On rare occasions his eyes will drift closed before flipping open again, startled by even the briefest of encounters with letting go. He stares from the same spot through the chain link fence, every day for hours, waiting. If I took him inside he would bite me, I think, out of desperation to return to the fence.

I am not sure there's much I can do to help him. I am not sure I am helping any of them, by enabling dependency on 79-cent cans of Feast. Still I have to do something. I myself have been bony and tired and covered with flies.

The glass sits only a third of the way empty on the apple crate in the living room. I have lost my taste for vodka, diffused as it is with memories. Instead I sip water from the new filter and believe that I really do taste the difference.

Once we returned to the apartment to find that one of the pilot lights had inexplicably gone out. I have learned since that it is crucial for pilot lights to be burning at all times, that if the other light had blackened we could have exploded as we walked in the door. And so I am huffing and puffing, doing what I can to stoke the flames. I imagine stroking velvet noses and the huuff of horses breathing, my family's old dogs, the shooting star on the way to Vermont, wide fields full of wildflowers. I imagine the trails, a pack on my back and my body steady on the earth in well-worn boots. I remember floating leaves in rivers of rain and living life in bare feet. I remember the wolves. I remember standing on top of mountains.