by DAN CARVILLE
for Lawrence Durrell
You put it all together: the glimpse of white, the farcical pardon, the Sunday caress. I was the author of all these motions, and so you hate me for it? Do you even know I’m alive?
Lake Michigan stretches out like a forest. Hiking is just another way of answering, locomotion an alternate method of standing. What I gave to you was a lot better than that, and I’d like very much to hear you admit it.
What a mess I am these days. A car comes for me and takes me to a place that should seem familiar. The girls around me debraid their hair. Gallinules always desire a place to go, never an environment to reside.
More fortunate than good, a desert cisticola, a warbler, a gull. A falcon in the right light resembles paved cement. You could look at something so close that the larger structure is obscured; now is that what you did?
You should probably answer me if you value your emotional life. A murder of fantoccinis, marbled into fine tire and sanded down by our feet. The car takes me to an open room. The ceilings loom massively, they swoop and descend on prey. Nothing wrong with talons so powerful. A grip can tighten without even knowing what is held.
Here is what really happened, if you care, if you are not reading this out of spite. You left the room. You had given me a kind of reward for doing something you thought was objectionable. It doesn’t make me cynical that I assume the worst, it only makes me tired.
After you left I could not think of anything but completing what was begun, all over your mother’s sheets. A man in August is just a figure redrawn on paper. By January should he still be a sketch?
Writing is not the best way to tell anything. Speech doesn’t mean much either. Remember I caught a glimpse of you in a parapet, no ceilings, all sky. Allow that thought to pervade your mind at odd times, like when you are at the hair salon or the dentist, or when you smell something off in the refrigerator.
When posed a question, answering is merely polite. I was asked, do you think there is any way she had met someone else? I said I was not sure, but tried to explain. I said swans mate for life, although they will try to find another if the original dies. Perhaps in a hunting accident? We never know exactly how we will go, Justine.
Subsequent to the high-ceiling room, I arrive at a further destination. Your apartment has cockroaches and we all know why. Riverside Park genuinely shimmers, and I brought Silly Putty, which you can make any shape and it won’t resist.
A mold is an underappreciated aspect of modernity. Whatever the impression. Could we all be molds for something larger or greater? What do you think? Am I perhaps onto something there, or is that the kind of vacuous statement your new boyfriend might make?
Anger. We talked about this once. The first time rage enters the countenance is so shocking. I try to never display this aspect of myself, but this gives off a mistaken impression, Justine.
It is on the whole more efficient to parse out the disappointment in drips and drops. Each might feasibly be wiped off the floor, but the splash a pot of tomato sauce would create makes me walk away. I want to be with someone who never minds cleaning up, you see, not you.
Here are some more potential aspects of the new woman in my life. Whenever she is self-effacing, the minor joke gives over to a broader compliment of sorts. She cares for animals. It is not that she herself rides a scooter, but if one were around, she would give it a shot to see how fast she would go. In the car afterwards, she reads, “A few trees still stand in a brand-new landscape, but the sea road is impassable.” She wriggles and leaps to catch her orphaned breath. How I wish you were here.
A series of rooms, all given over to divergent purpose. Occlusion is one, introspection another. My new wife will heartily believe that the way I delineate place for myself is more than an affectation, it is more of a solid coping mechanism. I looked for a ring for you, but I never found anything quite right. I did feel well being in your arms.
Observed from that vantage, sunset rendered opaque, I retract all my goodbyes. Your arrival would begin with the alteration of all my most prized, substantial pants. The first phase is a getting to know you, and the last is like copying data to a drive. Only we operate at different speeds, I know that. Deceleration is not a particular strong suit; it is productive to know our own weaknesses. Any relocation, whether it is only temporary or a consummate replenishment, relies on the endurance of time. The only one of us who was flighty was you, and I mean that in every conceivable sense. I did have a girlfriend, and this was a long time ago, far enough from now that it would feel impudent to mention her by name or Myers-Briggs, who found my diary. She said that some things in it were awful. I said, how was the rest?
Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.
Paintings by Sebastian Blanck.