We were there
to get his haircut. He was crying about the stuff coming out of his nose.
"I don't want to get my haircut now."
"Thursday at 9:30."
"How old are you?"
"You need a haircut."
The hairdresser filed her nails. They were
I ran out
of toilet paper.
I thought about it.
I thought about it all the time.
"She has a
nervous attack anytime she is subjected to light. She also has a nervous
attack if she sees Rice Krispies."
"She has lupus. Do you know what lupus
When she was a child, left to her own devices,
she would lie on one of the vast brown lawns that surrounded the high-rise
apartment building she lived in. The river was full of dead things. Everything
in the city was dead. She liked the garbage. She liked the way it rolled
across the dead grass in the wind. Like tumbleweeds.
I was seeking
ways to say how wonderful my life was. I came up with new ways of saying
it. And then, after I'd said it in some new and more wonderful way, I
tried to think up another new and even more wonderful way of saying how
wonderful my life was. And I was doing it! I was pulling it off! I was
finding new ways, more new and more wonderful ways, and I was saying them,
and then, having said them, I was saying more of them! It was wonderful.
Nothing had ever been so wonderful. My heart was stopping inside my chest
and it was wonderful to feel it in there, a cold lump of muscle, stopped
dead inside my chest, and then it started up again and this was wonderful
how sad you get sometimes. Sometimes it seems like your sadness is all
you've got. You're lying on the bed and you can't raise your arms. You
are a guy on a bed who can't raise his arms.
We came up
to the beach again. At night it's just like we're at home, with Mark asleep
and Mary asleep on the couch and all you hear is one dog barking and the
waves rolling over themselves and landing on the beach.
One day when I am old I will come up here
alone and stand on the beach and cry the way old people cry. Inconsolable
old people with their old faces and their eyes getting wet and red.
I was in Mexico
No I wasn't.
One time I
read my poems to a dog. I'm sorry I ever did that. We were in a park together.
I was sitting on a bench. The dog came and sat by my feet. I'd never seen
the dog. I thought it was going to pee on my leg.
down the steps. The fat guy was coming up.
"Hi," Ron said. He went back up the steps.
"Hi," the fat guy said. "Thanks." The fat
guy went past Ron on the upper landing. He went into the union office.
Ron went down the stairs.
"I don't want
to go in." I stood outside. Inside, there were a lot of people. I didn't
want to go in. "Let's not go in. Can we just stand out here for a minute?"
But then I felt stupid. I put my hands in my pockets. I looked down. I
was wearing my brown jacket. "Loosen up," I said. "This is supposed to
to lie silent in the night, let her soul stretch forth out of sleep and
touch lightly the surface of things untouchable, put forth the essence
of herself and see it settle like dust on the surface of every possibility,
like the end of a driveway, where the car lurches out beyond all that
contains the body of the life, web out beyond the spring of her life,
settle into the end of everything and pull back with no time left to spare.
He came down
the stairs and as he was coming down the stairs I thought, "Here he comes,"
and I could see him coming down the stairs.
He came down the stairs and stood in front
of me and I said, "Turn around," and he turned around. "Where are you
going," I said and he smiled.
People think they are moving toward something.
When they get there, they think they were moving toward something and
then they were there. It's the people who get there who you might as well
forget about. You might as well dump them in the garbage and it won't
I ran out of the place and stood in the
street and looked at the place. It rose up. It was brown and vast. Inside
we had a circular staircase. I phoned someone who told me everything they'd
had for breakfast. I went to the place where we have coffee and had coffee.
in the morning had become a feminist gesture. Meanwhile, the earth, rotating
in the blinking permanence of the firmament, had become a condemnation.
One morning I got out of bed, did the dishes quickly, and left her. I
started to pack a bag. I was going to take the car. She might need it
to take the kids somewhere, I thought. Fuck her, I thought. But it didn't
seem right driving away in a car. It didn't seem manly. I needed a horse.
This is me.
This is you. Here you are beside me. Here I am ahead of you on the road.
(But what are you thinking?) There we are by a sparkling something. Something
When I got
down to the beach there was nothing to see. She told me about it later,
much later. I followed her down one afternoon, without her knowing I was
there. The thing she wore fluttered like wind. If you stayed far enough
back it was beautiful. If you stayed on the rocks, you could see the whole
thing. Without the smell. The pebbles could have been sand.
Had kids. Was driving a little Honda. But it wasn't big enough for all
talking about traffic, even though her mind is on something she thinks
is more important. As she talks about traffic, she touches her chin and
tries to pinpoint whatever it is which is driving her crazy.
Lisa keeps concentrating on traffic, thinking
up different things to say about traffic, but what her mind is on, actually,
is photocopying. She has a great deal of photocopying to do. It's a complicated
job, involving two-sided copying and stapled sets. Lisa is on a deadline.
Raj is trying to think up more things to
say about traffic. She is trying to flood her mind with things about traffic.
Her stories about traffic have an edge of desperation. Every now and then
she sees something that looks like it is red. It looks like it is emanating
from the photocopier. Now Raj begins to talk about traffic as though her
life depended on it.
"I find if I eat something while driving
it helps," Lisa says. She knows that if she can get this photocopy job
done right, she will be okay.
I don't know
about your wife, sir, but my wife likes to sew at the kitchen table at
night. As this is the only flat surface suitable for doing taxes, and
my wife sews most every evening, thus the wiggly income tax return. Again,
my deepest regrets.