rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Chance of a Ghost

It's difficult to remember where things are in this place. Most of my life I've had maps in my head telling me what was around me and how I would get to anywhere within miles. Here I am not even sure of the exact direction of north. The puzzling array of streets and buildings are a sketchy mass with more blank areas than identified spots, and the identified spots float like things in a dream, taking on uncertainty from their uncertain surroundings.

There are no hills here, and the streams run not through valleys and arroyos but broad swales barely distinguishable from the land around them. Like the streets they will not remain solidly in my mind, but drift here than there, unmoored from any solid landmarks. I remember buildings, and can see them vaguely with my memory, but most of them are just "out there," somewhere on the flat, featureless prairie. I sit in my room, almost entirely lost.

After not having seen it for more than thirty years the shape of the land around Los Angeles is still clear in my mind. Though Google street views show me that many buildings I knew are gone and even more new buildings have risen, if I were to find myself at some intersection within twenty miles of First and Broadway I'm sure I'd have my bearings very shortly. I would probably recognize most spots in Paradise even though almost every landmark has burned. Were I dropped down in most parts of Chico I might has well be in Des Moines or Jacksonville.

I think this is why when, nodding off in the chair in the back yard, I start awake in the alarming heat with no idea of where I am, and thinking perhaps I am not even real myself. This strange little city is a floating world of its own, fraught with uncertainty and imprecision. Have I always been here? Have I only dreamed some other life? If so, the dream is more real than this reality, and I could easily be convinced that this place and I are now nowhere at all. Reality has been dissolved, the solid melted into air, not a rack left behind.

Sunday Verse

In Kansas

by John Burnside

The moon coming back,
your breath returning,
love replenishing itself.
        Allison Funk

I Datura

It’s warm enough
to sit out on the porch

till late:
          the windows
all along this street

burning out
           one by one
till only the moon

and the saw-toothed pumpkins
set out in the yards

are visible
           as if the town
had finally succumbed

to magic
        – and what if the moon
and the ocean

are one long

surely the same applies
to prairie
          something tidal in the grass

coming to light
               first here
then out amongst

the angel’s trumpets,
ice-white in the dark,

a wavelength
given form along a fence

and asked to stand
for spirits not yet known

but sensed
          the way the wind
belongs to us

if only for a moment
                    as it fills
a sleepless head with music
                           or a taste

for distance
when we rise to go inside

and something else arrives
to claim the dark.

II Moon

These are the autumn nights
we learn from books

a Chinese moon
suspended in the sky

our bodies warm
and graceful in the dark

as if we had stepped sideways
into something

animal: the new scent on our hands
conjured from grass and water

and flecked with blood;
the gradual shift

from one form to the next
so visible in every glint and slide

it makes me wonder
why a soul would want

the same again,
why anyone would go

to life eternal
given all this sweet

salt to dreaming salt,

the long exchange
of memory and warmth

that guides the Arctic tern
from pole to pole

as surely as it guides us
to the bank.

There is nothing we know
for sure
        and nothing much

we care to know
beyond this moment’s span,

the one thing we might have said
if we had to speak

is how the body
leaves itself behind

in rivers and storms,
caresses and empty rooms,

and each of us knows the other
as water knows

the bodies it transforms
and then surrenders:

fingers, the curve of the throat,
the windless

undertow of watergreen
and void

that waits to be re-entered
like a vow.

It makes me wonder
why we ever think

of anything
beyond this ebb and flow

III Salt

or why Xenocrates,
that sullen Greek,

would picture us
as shadows on the moon

between the life we have
and that to come.

I wonder if he thought
our other souls

were real, half-human,
standing in the light,

with silver

and barely a flicker of wings
at their crippled shoulders,

I wonder
if they seemed to him

benevolent, or ghostly,
true, or false,

gathered together
for warmth and conversation,

twins to the living souls
they would replace,

the fragrance of a rose,

the weight of snow,
or how an apple falls

on the cusp of afternoon.

Surely he would have
known enough to guess

that souls live in the dark,
like fleas, or mice,

and these, our other selves,
are neither vague nor pale,

but utterly substantial
when they swarm

in hundreds,
on the far side of the moon,

cunning, feral,
waiting to be born,

no more or less like us
than rocks, or sand,

but marked with a slipknot of blood
for the world to come:

its salt and rain, its feasts,
its widowhood.


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