looking as if an angel had been threatened with a baseball bat

taking a break on metropolis
Originally uploaded by Foxtongue.

I sat on top of a news-box downtown for half an hour with a book in my lap, trying to tune out the religious zealots handing out sheets of paper with the word Jesus at the top. Too exhausted to run for the bus, I was twenty minutes late. No one was there. No one came. I did not expect them to. Dinner had obviously been decided without me. No way to contact my friends, I decided to gather my chores in hand before I went back to the hospital. Official visiting hours are over, I thought, and I am having difficulty imagining myself mouth that I am Devon’s wife.

The drugstore felt hollow, as if somehow I had fallen into a facsimile. I stood in the hair care aisle and let my eyes scan the products without me, looking for the word Organic. In my head, I would try to concentrate on the mundane task I was undertaking, but instead I would glimpse Devon in surgery, a garden of stars unconscious on a table, the illusion of a slight flash of the metal knife as it sliced into his skin. Eventually I chose two bottles of shampoo and turned to find soap. The cheap soaps are sometimes the best. Less scent means less chemicals. Small thoughts that have nothing to do with what went wrong or his face on the bed.

Earlier, I had to re-set my day’s plans. Alicia was to come by for eleven and I had set my day by that. Things came up however, as they often do, and it was two o’clock before she could swing by for her errand, so things red-shifted over a bit. I had dinner with Andrew instead of Alastair, and instead of going to a fencing demo, when I got off the bus across from Duello, I followed random impulse and turned left into Gastown. There’s a shop there I rather like, crammed with odd antiques and paper masks. In the basement there’s a chinese chest full of hundreds of small drawers that can steal an hour if your life if you let it. This time, however, I knew exactly what I came for. At the foot of the stairs is a small display of golden music boxes, the sort you crank by hand to hear the music. They’re louder when you place them on wood. I sorted through them as efficiently as possible to find the one that played the Beatles song, She Loves You.

Going back to Duello, I fell into step behind a man I didn’t recognize. I heard him unlock the school doors above me and cursed a wee bit, knowing that meant that I’d missed everyone. I poked my head in anyway, curious to see if I was wrong. “Who’re you looking for?” “I thought to catch Devon.” “He’s in the hospital today.”

At that, I turned and ran, another impulse. Down the stairs, across the street, down the hill, straight to Waterfront train station, where Randy happened to be standing inside the hall. Seeing him, standing perfectly as if framed for me to find him, I recognized my impulses as the impelling force of cinematic timing and I laughed. I stopped running and walked up to him. He covered the mouth of his cell phone for a moment, “Hey Jhayne, I’ve got news for you.” “Yes, but what hospital?” We stood chatting for close to ten minutes, glad to be in company, “I just talked to him, he’s obviously not dying,” then took the train together. As soon as the doors opened on Granville station, I began running again.

There was a group of boys on the escalators, seven deep on either stair, pretending they were surfing. Such was my blithesom running that I decided they were an obstacle I wouldn’t wait for, rather I made thier day by jumping up onto the slippery thin metal divide between them and dangerously running up that instead. They cheered, but for safety’s sake, I didn’t look back down. Another two blocks and I was on the bus, feeling as if my legs were going to mutiny if I forced them one more step.

the fear of being majestically on fire

Water above, below. The boat shifting as we do. Music in my head, songs from the other night. The studio, lit by candles and street lights. Our bare feet against the red wood of the floor as we back up slowly, step by step, away from each other. Running, the sensation of wind indoors. Running without mercy. No reason to flinch, he’ll fall away before I do. He will or get hit. I’ve never done this before, but it feels right. Spontaneous and elemental, my hands on his, we’re dancing again. He fell away, I twisted, we caught wrists. I’d forgotten what it was like to trust someone like this, drowning in the realization of equality. Strangled singing, my voice rising in harmony, wrapped in too many memories. I fade out only to pour back in. Reading by a lantern, insisting he write. His staring whispers to me.

Oh, that evening. That hotel. That city, this one. That damaged morning, this damaged heart.

Get your teenage kicks where you can find them. This is no dress rehearsal.

“We live in our souls as in an unmapped region, a few acres of which we have cleared for our habitation; while of the nature of those nearest us we know but the boundaries that march with ours.”

Edith Wharton, ‘The Touchstone’, 1900

I’m always healing with what isn’t mine, always rubbing cat-like against the ankles of unlikely electricity, always wondering when it will be my turn. I’m a second-hand store princess, worn velvet and pretty hair, glassy eyes gathered into loving arms then left on the bus. The image of country sliding past is an easy one. I have years of it, my head smudging the cold window. My breath a slight fog. Towns made of match-boxes piled into general stores, lonely gas-stations bricked up with unhappy marriages and wrong turns, freckle-faced counters, cheap coffee-ring bracelets, where did we think we were going? Trestle bridges of broken teeth, snapped off ill-guided passion tied with hanks of the promises we thought were important before we got bitter.

Standing on the window sill, a tensegrity structure made of arms and legs, I turn to him and say, “We are that movie we don’t like to watch.” It’s true, we’re a musical. Rent, a friends getting together kind of film. Something we may have never seen but we know by heart. Terrifying, if I let myself think about it. Resurfacing.

Water above, water below. Feel free to go into all the rooms of this house, but for this one. That is all I ask of you. “Thank you for letting me love you.” There was no rain when we sat in the window a story above the street. When we waved, it was through clear air. Though no one returned the gesture, we were happy, a cinematic moment trapped in amber hair. Warm with the lights out, violin playing, rock music, movements curving into themselves, leaving us on the couch, shedding monochrome lives for one perfect night, describing one thousand miniscule pains and comforts in blurry detail.

I’m going to be a liquid tired later

a delicate step forward
Originally uploaded by Foxtongue.

There is a soft rain falling.

Saturday morning we were as tangled as a gordian knot, no way to extricate a hand or a leg without changing reality. Who knows where this piece of skin begins and that one ends? We are too comfortably warm to care.

A train is howling sorrow into the weather, as if the water is bringing it pain.

The flower has been put into a dairy bottle half filled with water. It’s on the kitchen counter, where we can’t see it, because we’re trapped in the bedroom with the door closed. This feels like the memory of an anniversary. We make two spoons, melted out of shape, conversation crawling famously between us, draining ourselves of impurities, setting ourselves up for a fall. He makes me laugh.

It’s earlier than I’m used to, but part of this is allowing ourselves to get to work on time.

Two in the afternoon and we finally go for breakfast. Aiden is there with his friend Graham. The woman behind the counter knows me. I make another mental note to bring her flowers as we slide into the window seat. I forget, but Sara is downtown, waiting for us in the basement of Dressew. We have to go. On the bus, a girl smiles at us in approval, half a couple perceiving another pair. I feel under siege by only pretty things.

The bits of food I have squirreled in my room are running out. I may have to find myself breakfast.

Sara is pretty, fresh and welcome. We poke heads into goth stores, a second hand shop, the studio. We’re on a quest for things to wear at SinCity. He and I are failing, but she’s doing okay. We take gorget from the studio and take the bus to my house. I collect my black things, a fishnet shirt that ties at the sleeve, a bra thick enough to dance in, and we wave goodbye to Sarah at Broadway. There is a tree full of birdhouses, stuffed branches with a little town. Kinsgway we decide, to get back to the boat, after Rowan’s. Our fingers lace together as we walk and I’m not sure when I notice.

I’m considering going to Uprising Bakery, but I’m too nested to feel any urgency.

The boat is beautiful, inspiring. I have never felt a pull to sail across an ocean before, but the impulse was dizzying once I’d stepped inside the hull. Panama, it tugged at me, photographs of industrial locks filling with water, the idea of being entirely surrounded by nothing but water. The sway of seasons pushing us across to a place with a different language, a different set of gestures and streets. A city sky lit by different stars at night, a ship to rest against a dock made of stone. Italy, the masks of Venice. The curve of the hull drew me in and drew me through, led me scouring the constellation of books around the bed tucked away in the prow. The sort of place part of me calls home, more so than where I live.

I wonder if there’s a letter downstairs. When does the mail come? My alarm will ring too soon again.