March 24th, 2019


monument of empty colours

september 9th 2004
today i went to the arboretum after work. what will i do, without the arboretum? let's not think about it. it's getting darker, faster. today the arboretum had a presence its not had for me before. i parked my car and walked loop four: sometime i will start at noon and walk all four loops. the fourth loop is new, and it's sort of got its own opinion about how the arboretum works. you walk out there and the colors are different. tonight winter desolation was hinted at, something in the graying shadows. oh yes, there were benches, signs, niceties. but the fourth loop hasn't forgotten her brutal wilderness, yet, and she wants to make sure you are aware of this. what am i saying?

i walked down the one trail. scruggles and wood. i walked down another trail. deciduous green, backlit. shadows and green, sharp contrasts. the path scrapes and crackles. found a bench, started whispering to myself about cicely and jared. because they were out there in the fourth loop today, but far older than jared, at least, could have been. cicely, at jared's funeral, how the trail leads into the chapel. mulch dissolves to a red velveteen runner. cicely looks into the tangle of roots erupting at the bottom of a fallen tree to see what looks like a white veil, really a nest of tent caterpillars. cicely and jared followed me out into the thicket, one of those perfect cusp-of-autumn thickets, the thick dying grasses bowed over themselves in multitudes. queen anne's lace too scattered to make its usual texture, instead conflating itself with occasional woodsmoke. again, that hint of blue winter light around the edge of things, tungsten tinge, or maybe evidence of a print fading out with the years. eventually all will be silence, this blotchy white rash breaking out over the season. i loved that moment and i moved on from it too fast. like i do. something pulls me toward the ground. makes me want to lie with outstretched arms. hair full of dirt and grass, i'd tumble down the slight incline. maybe not, though, since there's a road. i left that moment and moved on to the next. cicely in the church opens her prayer missal. pressed the page flat, takes her pen from her pack. "i can't believe him," she writes in her journal, and writes some more. jared stumbles back into the scene and the argument ensues. he's dropped without telling her, without checking with her first, without offering to share. he's testing her. he needs to know. she's angry. she's tired of being tested. she needs him to figure out what he knows already. he is wise with LSD. "i don't know who you are, today," he tells her, shaking his head with great concern. "i can't believe you," he says, his echo unrealized. i wonder. did she pass his test?

when will i ever not be writing this book i'm not writing? and oh, the sex, arguably the whole reason i'm throwing this funeral, why have i quarantined it so? wondering: where are my stories? i'd come up with ten of them in a day, sometimes. i'm so afraid that i'm not losing the ability to write but not finding the ability to engage a reader - and the path breaks for a road, white painted bridge marking - and there's this stranger behind me, not too clear where he's going, he's got an ancient collegiate sweatshirt and a flaming neon green fanny pack - and he takes the path i am taking, walking up fast behind me, too fast, uncomfortably fast, shooting up hopefully imagined flags in his path, and what do you do? out in the woods alone, car far away, maybe i should run the other way? but he's intent and i stop to the side and fidget with my water bottle,* look at the collapsed trees there in the woods, give him a good head start to conceal himself somewhere ahead of me so he can jump out next time i'm standing with wide blinking eyes, widely spread fingers, my mouth hanging open?

have i mentioned my flannel, hardly a reliable defense against biting insects and also too hot to deal with for long passages, at least until i took it off for a minute and found myself shivering? i have ten bug bites, the majority of them in a slightly curving line at the place where my neck curves into my shoulder on the left side. the other couple are on the right, the largest mirroring the largest on the left. one small one on my scalp. so, eleven bites total. my collar hangs loose around the back of my neck. it's september and i'm in no mood to surrender black camisoles. one or two buttons done up on the flannel, mostly it's held close by my bag's strap. could it be the rosewater? it could be some conspiracy of my already vulnerable chemistry and corn syrup. let's venture it's something like that.

10 september
i want to feel warm. i want to feel safe. i want to, for a day, for a week, feel comforted and secure. i want to feel like what i intend to feel like when i pull my hands up into the sleeves of an oversized flannel work shirt in early september and curl up by the open window in the cool dark for the night. i want to feel secure in my skin. like i belong here. like i did before. like i've never been allowed.**

*[small confession regarding personal abuses of smart phones, also there's a reason the stainless steel water bottle i've carried since 2010 could double for a nightstick]

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