September 23rd, 2002

such a square

white room

And sometimes the highway is something of a religion. Driving fast, spinning black wheels over black pavement into a black sky smeared with light lines, street lights, something diminishing, veins without heart. I could say I'm speeding toward something but I'm not. I drive around sometimes at night looking. Some nights I find it: the nights I am looking for something intangible, certain textures against my skin, humid air not humid enough to break my sweat, those nights when the air carves you from onyx, warming and swallowing you, smoothness, solace. The nights I'm looking for nothing, really, these are the nights I find something.

I wish I could understand this.
I wish I could understand this.
I wish I could. But I never can.
And, so.

And so I am a widow. Driving faster in the far line around a truck that is waiting for me to pass so it can change lanes. Accelerating, the lift and growl of it, this warrior six cylinder engine that has spoiled me to all vehicles I'll be able to afford. Forty fifty fifty-five and the truck and I are strangers, the lights green, the next song comes on: I will be with you. Again. I will be with you. Again. All is quiet. A world in white. I remember. I try.

In the opposite lane the coming traffic falls into line, a string of diamonds, unclasped and falling from careless fingers. Hits the carpet without a sound. The room goes black when the candle goes out. The whitest walls don't change that. The highways cloverleaf, couple and rebel, tangling twine in a fist. I get lost in September. It's easy to do.

Somewhere you are just a photograph. You slip from between my pages at inopportune times. Flutter to the floor and I am left standing, trying to explain to people who can never understand why it is you might be there. And I wonder, sometimes, what it really meant to you. What anything might mean to anyone. What anything might mean to me. Under the stars, under the deepening sky. The sky washed citrine to garnet to sapphire. The wind blew slight, I just stood there: looking at telephone poles and power plants, my car a few steps away, my hands curled in my sleeves. There are so many jewels from far away. The farther you get, the more beautiful some things become. In a photograph, from a hundred yards back, you are beautiful. Smaller than the tip of my little finger. And you are more of a jewel with every day put between us. I lean in, trying to get closer, knowing that if I honestly could I'd be driven away.

Ten years ago I painted this room pure white and I brought my bed and the stereo, the table for the stereo, a few CDs and a handful of crystals. I sat on the bed with the crystal and I put on the radio. I opened the window and I brought in a candle. I lit my candle and I sat in my room. And the room was white. Whiter than anything I'd ever seen. I thought about writing but I didn't have a notebook. I thought about reading but I didn't have a book. Every bit of my chaos was down the hall in boxes. I've never quite named that feeling I had that night, one candle a bed and the radio, so many hours just staring at that room.

Sterile. The sorts of things we list, walking down a street in late dusk, too dark and getting darker, a camera in your shaking hands. A single sustained guitar drone, holding on where his voice chokes out. Her voice choked out and you sat there with the phone in your hands, wanting to die. Not knowing what to say. Not knowing where to begin. Pure. The sorts of things we lost. Not so much of the body, I can't remember what it is liked to be untouched, to not have certain wisdoms, and I have no idea what it is like to offer the gift of physical purity to anyone else. Purity has to be something more than purity of the body. (please.) There are dark things in my corners still, again, there never weren't. The whitest walls don't change that: Inspired. These things find you. You earn these things, somehow.

Flush a barren land against a fruitful culture and there you have me, some friendly place in a hostile country. Some genius construction where no water flows. I dreamed I was the ocean. I dreamed I came to shore. We all have to begin somewhere. So begin with nothing and keep going down the page. Drive. Keep driving. Eventually you'll find me. Eventually you'll find a way home.