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Horizontal lines golden

all tree branches

curtaining

two gorillas under a warm,

fabricated waterfall

I am afraid of this engine

where I combust

You nibble and fondle each other

with paws that stretch

further and further

muzzles that drink

every drop of dew

I am afraid of this engine

where I combust

He roams the house

for something to protect

his hands

Opens the fridge for answers

to these wrongs

I am afraid of this engine

where I combust

It comes with a sense

of bewilderment

a tell-tale eye-roll

and an inevitable

why not?

I am afraid of this engine

where I combust

They race past each other

we hate past no other

limit but our bitter

sorrows can bear

or can’t

I am afraid of this engine

where I combust

Are we empty cogs

and gears?

I can’t say I’ve gone

all the way and back

or who ever could

I am afraid of this engine

where I combust

But the gorillas hear

the calming sound

of the warm water

splashing

on little brown pebbles

And fear no engine

And never burn.

 

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I hate opening the gate myself to park the car. I want an automatic one. What I hate more is having to go back and forth a couple of times before entering my gate because one neighbor parks his truck on the other side of the street and the other one parks his car in front of my house and the garage entrance is very narrow. I really hate it. I curse them in my head over and over again during the entire process. At least, they are silent now.

She is home late again. She takes the basil she stole from her aunt’s backyard and goes for the dead flower pot she put in the laundry. It is all withered from the few hours in the car’s cupholder. She tries to take the dead plant out, but the roots are all tangled with the dirt and, to save some time and some cleaning up afterwards, she only cuts the stems, opens a hole in the dirt and puts the basil with a too small root in there, like a person would do when he or she has to tell off a kid without actually wanting to. “There, it’s done. Hope this damn thing grows. How can I treat it so badly and expect it to grow?” The strange certainty that the plant has to have its head up passes through her mind, and, for lack of better object, an empty plastic bottle is used to put it in the correct position.

I stop the car at the gas station to fill the tank. There’s almost half a tank yet, but I want to. The guy in the red car parallel to mine stares at me for a second. He is middle aged, going bald. Easy target. Very easy target. I don’t even have to dress up for this. I look down and check myself: a simple top and jeans would do the trick, amazing. I pretend I don’t know I am attractive, or do I really only know it in such moments? I was turned sideways to check the pump, but with the corner of my eye, I see a man checking his motorcycle tires. He is partly hidden by a car parked right in front of me, he is a few meters ahead. For one entire minute, I watch his moves, I try to see his face, like a peekaboo game, where the excitement of me being wrong was mixed with the disquieting perception that this hair, this neck were all too familiar. I pay the gas and look again, this time, without obstructions. I have never seen this man in my life. I sigh in relief – even the attendant notices – enter the car, roll down the windows, start the engine and ride away. There isn’t much traffic, it is late at night on a holiday, why would he even be here in this city anyway? As the car turns right on the last curve before exiting the avenue, comes a deeper, longer sigh.

This is just to say

I have broken
the cowry
that was in
the jewelry box

and which
you were probably
wearing
with a necklace

Forgive me
it was beautiful
so sweet
and so cold

Just a regular tree, but not any tree. The branches spread out from the trunk in a somewhat spherical form, as they were tamed to do. He has never seen this tree. He has an image in his mind, he can feel the difference in the temperature as the warm sun touches his face when he sits beneath it to smoke a cigarette, he told me, but he can’t, in fact, see it. He can only remember this tree.

Above it, birds screech in pain, the leaves hiss, demanding silence, silence, for there is no room for such folly. How could there be suffering in gliding? He exhales smoke through the nose and tells me “I sometimes forget I am blind.”

“Excuse me?”

“What you just asked me.”

“Oh.. Umm.”

My mind goes back to the books and the strong shelves that hold them. If I was a shelf, I would definitely envy them, their ability to move and handle gentle hands, to communicate the pitiful symbols of human tides who repeat themselves, inexorably. Hmmm… maybe not. Even though I was cut, sanded, varnished and bolted into place, like a person, I would still have the original sap within me, oozing out ever so gently through this stupid lacquer that was meant to hide me, there, in front of everyone, bleeding a slow death while supporting cadavers of my own kind. I still can’t decide if I love or hate it, which destiny is the least painful, probably both.

Damn, I am too tragic this morning.

“Usually, it is only when people misplace things I need, when I reach out to get them where I know they are supposed to be, that I remember I can’t see.”

“What about dreams? How do you dream?”

“Exactly as I’ve always dreamt, images, people, everything.”

“Can you foresee what fortune has in store for me?”

“Ha, ha, not yet.”

It is hard to verbalize the longing, to solidify the light, with the roof of your mouth, the back of your tongue, the fingertips that touch his long fair hair and remind him that class has already begun, and take a deep breath. I watch his and his girlfriend backs like languid fish in a pond of morning sun as they move towards the building while I finish my cigarette. I wonder how he navigates with this constellation of folded names and dates, now that he has friends whose faces he has never known. The écriture of life with an unbalanced pendulum, readjusting everyday, overlapping traces made with color pencils, ballpoint pens, ink. The mind map of a foreign country none of us ever thinks of visiting while, in fact, we are dwellers of what feels like a natural amalgama of exiles.

Almost ten years later I would ask him this, and he would say, alas, he still doesn’t know my face, our morning break conversation under that tree, my offhanded future or his own. He reminds me, however, he continues to bite his nails, diligently, to wear rock and roll bands’ T-shirts and to dread talking on the phone. He reminds me also that this is an opaque, overseas language to us both, smiles reassuringly and invites me to share a cigarette once again.

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Diamond-shaped polka dots

feathers and leopards, snakes in stripes

I cover myself in patterns

abstract florals, tattoos and make up

to gain the tints my skin lacks

to gain the honesty my skin lacks.

 

Tomorrow I will wake

rosy gills, brown golden scales

but the same fish-eye

I have when I look

at my own reflection

and wonder how can

such a perfectly closed geometry

be capable

of so much betrayal.

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