The word, defining, muzzles; the drawn line
Ousts mistier peers and thrives, murderous,
In establishments which imagined lines
Can only haunt. Sturdy as potatoes,
Stones, without conscience, word and line endure,
Given an inch. Not that they’re gross (although
Afterthought often would have them alter
To delicacy, to poise) but that they
Shortchange me continuously: whether
More or other, they still dissatisfy.Sylvia Plath, Poems, Potatoes.
Unpoemed, unpictured, the potato
Bunches its knobby browns on a vastly
Superior page; the blunt stone also.
I’ve always been prone to early awakenings. As a child, I’d rise before anyone in my home and thread, slowly, like a liquid shadow, the thin corridor that stood between my room and the stairs, both at the antipodes of the house. The white air of dawn was flayed by a series of twisted lines, reminiscent of brambles, cast by delicate fiddlehead designs that adorned the curtains of the upper floor, and their innocent interruption of sunlight would paint the rightmost wall with the outline of a dark tree. Walking through it, I’m suddenly reminded, felt dimly somber, as I figured that in each morning, the tree asked me if I remembered tomorrow. «No.», I would offer, «Not tomorrow», quite insincerely. As the frigid lacquer of the pine steps innervated my feet, I made an unmatched effort to deposit my weight on my wrists, almost levitating, as to not trigger the stridulation of the wood, that little ravenous instrument, and if not for my glaringly audible breathing, I could pass for a bit of wind. This was my preferred method of traveling — in hyalescence.
When at the door, I would sit for a few hours in the front step of my home, where I had recently opened my forehead and where I’d soon do so once more, and perhaps that very place signals some dislodging that I can’t quite shake, as whenever I pass, now, through the front of that assembly of memories that houses another family for nearly a decade now, I can’t help but feel a glassy sentiment of unphasing that I’ve only ever felt by visiting my father at the cemetery. There, everything feels to drain and deaden, and sitting on that marble step, I recall what I now find to be an entirely manufactured memory, likely produced from years of spending entire mornings in some cogitative realm that isn’t this, looking at my mothers dahlias or a large palm stump that I always resented for being too high for me to sit upon. I remember a girl, braided features and withdrawn face that was seemingly under some degree of shade at all times, and her eyes were two dissolving oceans that overspilled over a blank aura, and her hands were rayed and slightly pellucid, and I remember that she caused in me some deep distress, but I was beckoned, as if fear was, then, an unusable tool. She would sit over the sill of the window to my left, her bumblebee t-shirt had this strange image of a coiling forest, distorted from a central point, and with one leg damming the slab of light that would enter the home through the bottom of blinds, which were always left slightly relaxed, and another leg pendulous over the wall, with a subtlety of movement and leggings of a torrid yellow contrasted with white triangular damasks, she would, under certain angles, appear like an enlarged salamanquesa. I don’t recall our conversations, but figments of them, these sparse echoes and elisions; she’d often complain about her father, how mean he was, but not to her, she didn’t exist to him. Her eyes surfed through myriad slides of pain, but they could never find themselves stuck in a purpose, a form, a line that would restrict the sequestering motion of feeling; that’s just it, she darted through a film of her trauma, and in each frame sprawled a condensed figure which sourced it, but she only felt motion sickness, or just sickness, or just that stunning and infinitely involute reality of being unwanted. I wouldn’t say anything to her; well, she didn’t exist. But I remember that, by the end of each conversation — which elapsed whenever the air goldened — if I remembered tomorrow, that desultory question which haunts the asker and the askee, and before I could answer, the spume of her eyed-oceans would seethe, producing a strident gurgling alike water meeting a barrier of smooth cinders, and she would vanish.
I see signs of her tattooed over each of my memories in that house. The kitchen, that was added by a renovation shortly before my birth, since the home did not have one when my parents first bought it, was done so in an odd angle that, like some useless flap of fabric, squeezed every centimetre of space right until the neighbouring building, and in doing so, was shaped like a half-opened fan, and had a large space at the top which my mother filled with a cobalt-hued couch filled with arabic symbols in that torrid yellow that remind me of her. Also, lodged under the stairs, a cabinet would, in an ordered chaos, be the accommodation for dozens of albums and home-videos, many of which were videos of the sea and its undulation, which my father enjoyed to capture in every beach he went to. I’d sit and watch them attentively, waiting for a moment that wouldn’t come, hoping for a moment nowhere to be found with each wave, each simmer. The lines of the cassette would travel, vertically, along the dense lenticular screen of our TV, seeming to be combing the image for a meaning, and always arriving empy-handed. The times in which I would flee from the eldritch entities my mind would conjure from my days of solitude; just flee, without much thought to the matter, into the lemon orchard that backed the house, and look back to see it wither over the visual space, lose the war of colour, drown in distance, and smile, simply and purely, because for a moment it no longer existed. The times in which I’d just sit, alone, attentive to the spume. It didn’t take me long to understand the rest the memory I had fabricated, and how much it seems to shorten the act of remembering my infancy.
I remember, vividly and uncreatively, sitting over the thick membrane of dead leaves in the orchard, unbothered with the sound they made at the fullness of my weight, and in the sober madness of being both lost and alone, whispering to myself, do I remember tomorrow? «No,» I would offer, «but I must want to.»