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selva oscura
15 May 2019 @ 03:19 pm
january 11th, 2005
i'm going to talk to you now about steam radiators. they are a defining presence in a room. at three feet tall i could tell you something about commanding a space from the corner but who's to say if that command is active, elected, something to be questioned, or if it is solely ceremonial.

the radiator must have something to say, but it does not speak my language, nor do i not speak the radiator's language. the language the radiator speaks is one of squeaks and hissing and growls. you'll forget about a radiator until it starts its muttering. i got something to tell you, it might be saying. i just don't know what it is. the room is transformed in that little frustration. you thought you were here alone? there's always another opinion about that, be it the opinion of your muttering radiator or the solicitation calls that keep ringing your phone. "do not hang up," the phone will say, if you pick it up; "this is not a solicitation." another solicitation, you'll mutter to yourself, radiator-like, full of hisses and growls, and hang up.

i had a steam-powered radiator in both iowa dorm rooms, the exhausting fifties pastiche pink tissue box and the carpeted, historically significant and haunted accordingly, room with a prime view of the tar-papered first level roof. with regard to that second radiator especially, i will tell you it is a lot more human in presence than central heat. in your own world. thinking you are there alone. thinking long iowa thoughts. suddenly the radiator stirs, stirs into banging, bangs around, whistles some uncanny little song, and starts heaving sighs. a human awareness, in its way; one that seems to enjoy a good startled pencil-tip snap from the room's sole corporeal occupant and subsequently heats the room in a reluctant, almost cynical fashion. i wasn't supposed to be here today.

mostly, i kept the radiator shaft shut. all the way. if i turned that crank just a millimeter, that 10'X17' haven would become an unimaginable hothouse perhaps only livable to my contemporaries versed in homegrown menageries of rhododendrons, exotic lizards, and/or closet weed. so i'd crank the radiator and once i'd sweated out my last fever i'd crank it shut again, soon to find myself shivering. my eventual strategy: i'd open it that hothouse millimeter and crack the window to whatever degree would counterbalance. yes, here in iowa we open our windows in the dead of january and no, we wouldn't (couldn't!) have it any other way.

sitting on my bedroom floor, xena on the television. sweet patchouli, bless my soul, in the incense bowl. sorting through my latest acquisition of CDs from my beloved fiercely independent underground orpheus who makes up the three year interim between check clearing and product delivery by sending me the exact opposite of what i (probably?) ordered. the hidden costs of closet weed! wonder how much of a buzz i could get off these liner notes? wearing the fixer-stained "love will tear us apart" shirt and jeans that sure do remember when with every tear and white-threaded fray. a little concerned.

maybe i've hit a loop.


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music: bowery electric - black light