“It’s 8:54 a.m. in Brooklyn it’s the 26th of July and it’s probably 8:54 in Manhattan but I’m in Brooklyn”
-Ted Berrigan, Personal Poem #9
I. MIDSIZE CITIES
I apologize that I called you at 2AM last night to sit with me and listen to me cry and let me stroke your hair so that the holding might fasten me to this life. I apologize but I really need a promise like: you will settle, I will superglue you to a floor plan and make you drink warm milk every day with powdery green vitamins and a calendar.
I know this requires a certain sacrifice but my hope is I think that someone will believe in me that much—
Sometimes I see home like a series of scraps placed on a map of the thirteen colonies and Miami and assorted midsize cities.
I drew a map once to convince someone. I made a little loop that traced the coasts and a scraggly line through New Mexico from when we left and we lived in a car. I used to go to a little place like a corner store or a cigar shop where a skinny man in boots sold stones outside of Taos. I bought malachite and amethyst even though my grandma liked turquoise in relation to the orange desert.
I shared the rocks with my second grade class and then lost them in the move.
Later, I would not enjoy the warm air and the dust at the Rodin Museum but I kept thinking about this one sculpture closed for renovations.
A lot of times now, I ask for Con Leche in a package for remembering. At a blue rest stop, south of Savannah a good friend of mine and I find showers and pickles in plastic containers. Sucking on green juice like honey sticks, she tells me: you’re not from anywhere. I say: I know that I am a stilt house even though I have been banned by the state of Florida it doesn’t mean I can’t exist a bit longer, if I try to stay still and walk tiptoe.
The recent ordinance declares: you must leave me for water. Everywhere I am left looking out and over and wondering if in art deco everyone turns into triangles and flat. I lie down on the gloss floor the Britto museum the gallery with plants shaped like rabbits and deer I wonder if rabbits exist here or they are shipped off to stilt city to swamps.
I am on a balcony at Vizcaya I am making up another story where this is my palace in my story I feel very blasé like the girl on top of the garage with the wind and the camera man. I try to adjust my dimensions for the picture she clicks and then she says:
You are a lump and this is a flat city.
I built a little house from an empty atrium in Massachusetts and a soft cheese platter I had once in Vermont and a little wood church we ran to once on Signal Mountain, where Allie said: I want to get married one day and pretty soon. Sometimes I like pebbles and sometimes I throw granite at brick houses so that they might break.
The only time I ever felt okay about Tennessee, I think I might have been in Georgia. I shared a tent with my friend who dresses like a carrot and a boy with long vowels and overalls I never knew before and we ate pizza in the back of somebody’s F150 and talked about Wally Lamb, waterfalls, and the necessity of ritual.
I guess another time we skipped chapel and we picked strawberries by the barn and listened to Robert Penn Warren. And the boy, he took a long pause, he said: it felt other-worldly, like Anne with Jack by the water, and so we replaced the engine belt in a blue Chevy Spaceship, ruined my white watch, and bought lumber from a clever man back behind the school. Then I took the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band record and left him with his ashtray and an egg biscuit.
IV. P.O. BOXES
Most of the time now, I spend trying to make some nostalgia out of experiences I never had.
I suppose I will go to where the ocean looks like a fireplace, the car with beets, blueberries in the back seat, and the ravenous expanse. You and I, we stand on a precipice, perpetually overlooking. For now, I offer you my hand. I will sweat and you will let go.
In exchange: I will take your irony and your considerations to use for jet fuel on my Chevy spaceship. I love you to discomfort but the water turns orange in a few weeks and besides scotch tape was never made for sticking around.
And I’m thinking: I don’t have it in me to gather powder blue wood. I’m not sure you have the means to trap me, or the will. I understand this now, and I don’t know how milk reacts in space.
I believe we need especially to maintain correspondence in the years to come. I would be grateful if you mailed me a portion of your thinking as well as some vitamins.
Please forward all material to my P.O. box.