it was august 23rd, i'd be twenty-five in four days.
these were the sounds:
helicopters, some far-away sirens,
tiny shouts of small children & not very small adults.
right, there was also "one more cup of coffee" filtering through those, as by sound - as by sound by the mind, born there. i was thinking about when we inadvertently repeated that playlist of every version of it while we made love on the living room floor.
cell phone-less, fat dark roads. just me, a grey hoodie and my bones.
all the traffic lights were lightless, left with three speechless vacant black holes.
all the stores were deadly dark except for one chinese take-out place dubbed "YUMMY ASIA" that i had never even vaguely noticed. i walked in slightly shaking. some indiscernible electronic device welcomed me in an asian accent when i pushed through the door, i stopped halfway through my second step, facing two confused asian employees. a soundless beat and then they spoke, i stood there, not understanding a word they said. it sounded like the room was shaking in my head, so i shook mine as some sort of response or explanation, bodily mimicked a half-circle and walked out. i was still inside my skin but back outside again, inside the airs icy coat, on top of the earths skin, inside of gods brains, playing all its tricks on mine, all of us were raw. i said some things out loud into the dark and i said some things more quiet and some things i didn't say at all. i could feel all the negative spaces of the loves of my life, the opposites of bodies and bark. the sky was bloodthirsty but still had a pulse.
"mom, it's kerry. the stars are falling, i'm watching them right now and they're way too close to be, to be safe or normal or okay and i can tell they're getting closer, i think this is it. i hear bells. i don't know where you are."
i live on an island made of ice.
here it is so, so silent that there's a background of terrible, steady screams, a loudness only silence can master. it's not the thin layered kind of ice, thin on the top, with easy cracks and freezing water underneath, the whitish top coat that tries to be cloudless, the colors that want to be invisible. no, we're solid, all through.
it has veins you know, ice does, thin and bloodless and clean. speaking though of invisible colors, our heart is around here somewhere, we're sure, see, because of all these veins.
this island was born for me and i for it and i am slowly learning that this will somehow be it's own kind of okay, has to, sometime soon.
to get here, you adventurer, you must be capable of this almost impossible innate ability to exhibit underwater flight, you''ll travel like this for a leap-of-faith-type dull distance until you reach a solid, frosted surface. this is how you'll know you've found us.
we might give you socks and rain boots and mittens, a simple courtesy, if we really like your voice and your hands, you might say "aw-thank-ya-so-much" and you'll smile. we'll ask you, darling, if you decide to wander could you keep your heart on the lookout for ours?! you'll close your eyes, maybe you'll nod, yeah you should definitely nod. nod, okay? so yes, it is a very large heart shaped almost like a fist. it's not cold like our ice, but void of temperature, the veins connected to the surface your boots are walking all over. when the air is very still we can hear a certain sort of secular beat-beating that leads us to believe the assumingly ghostly hand-fisted hearts scattered iced inky veins are connected to just everything, ever and that when found its veins will lead to a catacomb only a heart would crawl into.
we won't, can't, promise that you won't find anything monster-like. they tend to lurk quiet and change forms like those awful reoccurring nightmares. we don't tell you this, but as we watch the curves of your upper arms we decide that you can handle anything. we'll probably tell you stories, we're known for making up words to make any expressed literary emotion really, really emote, that there which is guiding you. and if, you observer, you ask about the truths or falses of our stories we'll watch you carefully without uttering a word. it's likely this is where novelists and the clever poets coined the phrase "icy glaze" -- here we reside and survive, its folded, ready in our sweater pockets, the gaze.
it's then, love, that you should press the side of your face against us, use up all your god damn will power to deny the loud buzz of the chill breathing you in, touch here. this here, is where you could put your hands on our back, each finger poetically pressing, each tip sentimental. if you wanted you could say something quiet, anything you were not too cold to say, because dear, we can hear deeper than anything else, all the fucking way down and maybe, you beauty, you'll taste something delicious in those grey-white plumes of visible breath reaching out of your mouth, searching, that will change everything you thought you knew. especially about us. especially about islands and hearts that go AWOL. everything you thought you knew about everyone, ever. we'll detail the subjects that people much farther than the island and i tend to avoid, vehemently. because look, what doesn't an island of ice with a no-show heart not know about solitude? about strangers? derangement? nothing. our knowledge of it is endless and cold and unstoppable. you hesitate and argue with me, somehow pouting your eyes, but just try and get under or inside with just your hands, cozily mittened or just bare, and good luck, you saint.
look, you vagabond, sit down, i'll make some tea and we'll talk or hum and you could stay here always, you should even, but i don't tell you that. we can already hear our missing heart distantly calling as you sit here with us, on us, your booted feet just now adjusting to what each step on a supposedly heartless island of ice entails, but i don't tell you that either. sometimes you lose your balance and you slip fast, your arms out like airplane wings, dipping in and up against the darkest ever permanent-marker-black-sky. you laugh, i watch the corners of your lips crawl up and a smoky cloud of cold air exhale past your bumpy, gorgeous teeth. the ice has quieted. my mouth doesn't open at all while my mind is pot-belly full of all the wrong doors to ever open but you just look incredible. we think you just look god damn perfect. but heroes?! but those? even if my brain spins way smarter than that i still involuntarily pulled the hi-stranger-smile when you got here and you're still here, wearing my mittens and holding my homemade mug of chamomile tea really close to your face and even though i keep trying i can't find the word "melt" in my mental memory of my entire life so far until right now, this very second, here and on fire.
at 8:49 PM
the truth is it probably started the first time i heard "let her cry" by hootie and the blowfish.
it probably started as soon as he put his cock in me and i said no and the tears started to tiptoe and then they started to run fast, but our clothes were off already and i guess that meant it was too late, it was my own fault for letting him take my shirt off, it was his own mistake for not being able to focus on the repeated no's and the crying. i remember his bed was broken and the new one was on it's way, i remember the dirty mattress on the floor. i can't remember his face then, just the weight of him and the way my hands felt pushing up on the sweaty sides of his hips, pushing off but to no avail. to no avail. the pushing. tiny arms. it was the way it felt to be under water when a wave hit you too hard and all this water found it's place in parts you needed to breathe. it was the way i cried no and said it over and over and the movements were fast and each one was like swallowing something that always made you sick, it was the way he came and after it was his quick movement upward and how he let the cum land on his belly, on the stubs of the hair he shaved off. how after i turned over, still sobbing hard, cradling myself in myself like those russian dolls, his face was like he suddenly realized a war was taking place and he had killed a soldier for the first time. it was how he cried after and i think he knew then because he said "i'm sorry" over and over, it was the way that still, despite all this, my heart broke and i pitied him, the guilt was there, somehow, like the beginning of rain. this has something to do with it, i'm guessing, with all of this now. me, twenty-three, 3:17 a.m., tired, writing poems about trying to love someone. i remember the smell of his house, even just the whisper of the memory makes me gag, the sound of his mothers voice and baseball on the television. i remember smelling how much he loved me in his sweat, mixed with his cologne, mixed with the way his hands were always grabbing and saying if you don't keep me i'll die, i remember the way he'd say it even with his mouth, because he did, he did love me, but a kind of love i still can't grasp - a kind of love that easily forgets not to suffocate, or something to that effect. this was one of those moments you realize how deep selfishness can run in the blood and how little i had of it, at the time. i remember leaving and that my shoes weren't tied, i ran out of his house, the laces slapping hard at my ankles for blocks, the tears and the makeup mixing and making the getaway obvious and cinema-worthy most likely. he chased me and caught up and he stopped when i did, in front of a pay phone i bet is still right there, he put his hands on his knees and bent over, panting, he was sorry, he said. come back. his tears were rolling but how could tears matter then? no, not then & not right now. i don't remember how i got home, maybe i walked. in my dreams i walk all over.
maybe it started after when i met you and we talked about nothing very intimate but you were incapable of causing pain and i could tell. you were a smart kid and an awkward love seeped out of your skin, showed up as the freckles i counted when you weren't looking.
it started when we were in that park on those benches, you were there but really it was "she sits alone by a lamp post, trying to find a thoughts that escaped her mind, she says dad's the one i love the most, but stipe's not far behind" i was thinking it, right then, and i was sipping my beer but faster than sipping and you loved me and i knew it. it probably started when i wanted to hide the cuts but have people see them at the same time, like writing something i know i couldn't show you, just putting on me instead. it started when we were lying on the cold laundry room floor in that house and i told you to sing to me and you asked me to what to sing and i told you "something" the beatles song, and you did. you fucking did. it all started because i thought you could save me but instead i swallowed your soul for you but then spit it out because, well because why? i still don't know. she lets me in, only tells me where she's been, when she's had too much to drink.
maybe it started in that dark purple room with one brick wall dreaming about you and waking up sweaty and sad, salty with tears, i lived in that room with words, the bed was big and for months and months it was the sticky words and me, the lack of you.
it could have started when i took my moms pills out of the cabinet, at 7am in the morning in my saint saviour uniform and took six of them, nonchalantly, truly it was- i can't remember the reason why, i just walked over opened the bottle and swallowed. my friends said "your pupils are so big" and i liked it. maybe it's the way the sound of paper sounds ripping, or the way it feels to sleep on a damp, moldy couch. the way it feels to hear music like you feel bruises, or water on your face in the shower. maybe it was being small enough to hear "a case of you" by joni mitchell and know there were things about the world i knew but would re-learn and re-learn and every time i did it would hurt, just like the song.
maybe i'm going too fast. maybe it started when that teacher called me worthless in front of all my classmates, or when i used the word "surreal" in an essay and she didn't believe i wrote it or could have known what it meant. maybe it started when i heard them fucking and cried all night with my little knees tucked up, knowing it wasn't pain but was it love? that feeling in my gut, the question sitting there, aching.
it probably started when my dad would pour bottles of wine down the sink and my mom would yell and sound like some ghost from an old movie i never saw so i let it get blurry instead. maybe it was there all along. i've always been a bit whimsical, prone to melancholy, i always was the one kissing my own knees, rollerblading super fast along the park side in the dark thinking about how good it was that my body was moving as fast as my thoughts, finally. finally things matching up.
but all of this is what they all say, it's happened before, it's probably happening right now, as i type this.
it's just the ones who know.
they know, the ones like me, how many times we ignore the itchy beginnings of our stories in our beds at 3:25 a.m at night and we all know how many times we begrudgingly sit up and actually put the pen to paper because the words always win, they're vicious creatures, words, like the god of abraham: no mercy.
went too fast is right though, so i'll tell you. not where it started and not where it ends but where it continues, with great effort and small sighs, with typing sounds and a love so big it might very well have grown so big it disappears, something that can contain so much it it becomes something else, quite small and broken into tinier pieces. i don't know, i was never good with physics.
at 11:57 AM
it's amazing how little you can see when confronted with car headlights face on.
i tried to tell you, or i wanted to, which definitely isn't the same as trying, unfortunately. but by some heavenly happenstance, you existed. by some fucking grace of god you stood there next to me, our arms touching just a little.
and i swear, when you walk, the world sweats. i just, how do you tell someone that, how do you say it with your mouth?! while you can hear everything breathing around them? no, no -- for them. i couldn't, there wasn't one way. you bent in angelically and i lit your cigarette for you and went inside to order another drink. no longer interested in it, you flicked the cigarette behind you and followed me, you were humming some R.E.M. song and that was enough. that was enough for me.
"i mean, who doesn't have control issues? fucking no-one." you said, when you caught up. you leaned against the bar like a celebrity on their way to rehab, still looking outstanding. i blinked.
nothing had ever been enough.
at 8:55 AM