I know nothing of the man staring me down across the street. He in his bubble, I in mine. Engines turn and turn and turn, his eyebrows are raised, shoulders crunched forward. The red light burns above his head, above mine. Dust falls. And finally, the stale red dies and jumps to green.
We don’t need our feet to ask where the pedal is, our bodies braced for forwards, go. We go, down, down the pavement. There is always some light catching in the grasses, catching in the leaves somehow closer than the clouds. But the windows are up, and no air moves inside.
I think the movement is excruciating. I mean, we lean and we lean so far into the next step, we might as well have our stomach on the wheel and our face in the engine, convincing ourselves it smells nice.
Some days it happens. It’s a wonder we aren’t growing taller to accommodate our constant reaching. I think we are getting shorter. Maybe it’s all compressing in the backbone, in the seven vertebrate that balance our heads. My hand doesn’t bother to reach the nape of my neck, it believes in the studs above my shoulders, unhesitant to leave the little letters it tickles.
The living room is empty of people. A green couch, gaping, faces me with a painting on the wall to back it up. There is some purpose, it’s interior design, I relay this information to the ruminating part of me. It’s like the man with his thoughts, oblivious to the carpeting it used to be so proud of.
All of the lamps are shut for a moment, the light blots and billows and raises with the wind, lowers with the window panes, lowers like the eyelashes on my cheeks. Windowpanes. I wish I could place some little flowers there, wait for them to grow, carefully, attentively, give them water, and let them rest in furious reproduction. It’s just sealed wood right now.
Straightening my spine, I let the world come in. It is pinched at my front shoulders, shielded by the backpack scars and bra straps.
I wonder where all the good maps went. Suddenly, they went missing from houses, from homes with wooden walls, from glove compartments littered with wrappers and cigarette boxes holding onto the last cigarette like the will of an aging parent. There’s not much to give except advice- Be careful. All the other words are lost in childhood.
What do I mean? No, it’s not me, you read the newspaper everyday. It tells you some slates about the news. You hear that? We’re making history. We’re living through it. We’re making it all history. And the words growl on and on and on in the spidery corners near the floor. I ask them to please shut up for a moment, or at least take out the trash- won’t that be useful? But they like the sound of their murmuring through closed doors too much. Says it makes them feel like a god. Who can argue with that? Not the glass tupperware, for sure.
Maybe we don’t like to leave the scene unfinished, or we’ll rush from one end of the campus to the kitchen, ready to think about bedtime over pasta and Grey’s. I’ve never seen it. But maybe I tell a lie. I can’t write without telling the truth. I mean, if I wanted to say that home has maroon shutters, I couldn’t make the main character mine. Good, I guess, but I mean no, I can’t relate. Home has blue shutters. Home has my cat. Home has a backyard with the same trees making a peace sign in the branches you can only see from my height on the porch, or the trampoline, and the jack in the pulpit berries that will kill you if you eat them. Home has lawnmowers.
It’s like ribs, the way tree trunks’ legs stick up sometimes. An almost exposed root. There’s flesh on it, not the same, but even after all the words, there it is. There’s flesh on it.
And cells, too, are made in amnesia.