Never give up
A field of stomachaches, each of them buried under tiny mounds of damp earth. In my hands, the largest shovel you have ever seen. Paul Bunyan is in awe of this shovel. It’s a wonder I am even lifting it. Everyone lol’s at this shovel and how I am never using it to dig up all the stomachaches. HOW WILL YOU EVER PLOW THE FIELD, DEBRA? ONE SHOVELFULL WILL DO THE JOB, DEBRA. JUST SCOOP, DEBRA AND THEN YOU’LL BE ON YOUR WAY. WINTER IS COMING, DEBRA. YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO PLANT ANYTHING, DEBRA, UNLESS YOU REMOVE ALL THE BLIGHT FROM YOUR FIELD. USE YOUR HUGE SHOVEL, DEBRA. ONE SCOOP, DEBRA. DON’T BE AFRAID, DEBRA.
2019 is tomorrow. Let’s all pray for Debra. She really needs to get to that field or else she’s going to keep starving. See how she’s whittled away? It’s super sad and hysterical. Maniacal laugh funny. The kind where the madness has kicked in and thoughts are in that Roomba loop of wall-bashing, turn, wall bashing, turn, wall bashing, turn and nothing more will ever get clean. Debra is scared all of the time. The stomachaches pulse most at night. They send her all they have and their infection rattles inside her brain preventing sleep. In the morning, she thinks, in the morning it will be better. I’ll use that shovel, I will. But she never does. She loves the stomachaches too much. I guess.
Guys, I am REALLY worried about Debra. I don’t know how much longer she’s gonna last. She said something to me once about how might the earth feel if wrapped around her. Something about the glory of giving up. I…don’t know anymore. I just don’t.
The leaves rattle like a rain stick. The wind comes in billows and spins them in the stuck space between the porch and the driveway. I try to time the blusters but I have no clock beside me. No way to tell if the wind has a rhythm, a schedule, a plan. When it pauses I wonder if that’s the wind is taking its next breath.
This intangible thing.
The ethereal runs us. The multi-named invisible combining into crisp veins that twist their way into us, combing the inside of our bodies, their furrowed field. They bury and chase and the us is really me standing beside the field, hands shaking, begging them leave.
But they stay and stay.
The leaves skate circles in the wind, dragging their crisp veins across the concrete making a sound they can only make once they’re dead.
When the sun leaves your life and all is dark and cold, you put on many sweaters and hats to combat the shocking absence. You stumble in the gloom, traversing all of your familiar but despite the sameness, all is different with the light gone. The scarves only bring so much warmth, the candles, only so much bright. Dancing under this new sky is not like dancing was before. There is no feeling the music, it is simply hearing the beat and reacting to it.
But, oh, when that sun returns.
This answer is different for everyone. I could answer this question for fifteen minutes. I could type a very large paragraph. There are a lot of things to like. I would like to start a word doc of things I like. Liking is so easy. So much fun! Ponytails, freckles, ice water, pink. It’s loving that is a bit more challenging. Liking is popsicles, peanut butter and skipping. Loving is tattoos. Loving is cosmetic surgery. Loving is a willing step off a cliff.
To list one likes is popcorn. It’s like masturbation. To list one’s loves—real loves—real think-about-it-loves—is Transmyocardial Revascularization Surgery. You have to stop eating 24 hours beforehand. You are made unconscious. You are cut open. Blood bone. Stitches. Scars. Recovery. Afterwords, your body is different from once it was. Your body. Cut into. Reconstructed.
But what I really want to talk about is spiders. No, just kidding. I want to talk about how bodies betray you. You think you are one but then they fuck with you. They go rogue. They become errant children, pubic hair sparse but earnest, fuck you-ing you. Your knees stay up past 3 am. Your gut leaves home, expands, grows thick with fat, glut-full of French fries, Belgian waffles, whipped cream and melted cheese. It sneaks past the eclipse of your breasts, demands the stretch of new bras, new waistbands. Your neck aches for no discernable reason. You’re tired. You ask, “I thought we were partners? You and me. Remember how we climbed trees? How I wash you? The Jane Fonda videos? All these years. You and me. Just tell me what’s wrong? We’ll work it out. You’re still all I have. You keep me together.”
Forget it. I am mad at my body. I am silent fighting it. Punishing and hoping. I am in the other room, door locked, panting.
Here is where I digress…
In a beach room where you are the best, I crawl. I crawl over. Inside the harmony. Paul, John, Ringo, George. I live inside their hum. It’s a peaceful throb. Oh. My. God. Crawl inside with me. If you know what’s good for you. If you cannot float, you are not a trooper. You cannot “hang” with me. You are not viable. You are skin that walks. When you crawl, your hands and knees scrape the ground. Whatever that ground is. You think that’s the part that hurts, but it is, but it is not. What hurts is the deferential pose. Your head bowed. BOW THAT HEAD. Shoulders less. DO NOT LOOK AT ME. Body slumped. Hey, be a cutting board! Hey, be a sloth! Be lower than anyone that matters. Crawl forward until the tip hits your lips. Say, “I am nothing.”
Hey Jude is a really nice song. Old Elton John is gold. Early 1980’s funk.
A barking dog.
A quick wince after it hurts.
Lido Shuffle/Boz Scaggs after four beers.
When your bladder is full but you want to finish this level first.
How your hope rises more than your fear.
How your fear rises more than your hope.
When you watch effed up Japanese porn.
Ryan Adams. Live.
When you swear it’s your last drink.
When the floating begins and you see her eyes and her laugh.
After you take a shower, all the stray hairs scraped from your body.
When your book doesn’t sell.
In this swimming I sit. No longer dusted. I am a wet whirl, whorled. Like quicksand, but the air. And it’s hot. Motherfucking HOT. I wear a thing that is like a sheet but pretty. Breasts akimbo. My hair edges slick-sheened with sweat. The room has stopped pulsing, now it just compresses. The dogs lay dead on the wooden floor. They were breathing and now I don’t know. I could check their tongues but I cannot move. This is where prayer takes over.
When the air around you is inescapable…all sixties orange-blurred, fat paisley and spinning…all you want to do is not move. I am a dead dog too.
If we could just turn on the fans, fillet our skins to get to the underneath, fill our orifices with ice maybe. Pay a man to keep us cool. A guy with true dedication in his heart. Wearing overalls, shirtless. Mid-thirties, pre-maturely gray. Pockmarks. Kind eyes. A feeling of obligation deep within him. That would be nice. A kindness to one another.
Lift the hair from the nape of my neck and blow there.