Prose and Poetry from Web del Sol



It's the natural thought—you stand on the overpass, looking through the metal grid that sections off the world below—and ask yourself what sort of shears or metal cutters, or clippers could be bought or stolen from buses, would be required to reveal a patch through which a large and swirled object—a Galaxie 500-polished bowling ball, owned by Roy, seeing that his name is engraved in the lacquer, bought from a garage sale for 80 cents, and hauled twenty-six blocks in a cherry red Radio Flyer wagon here from downtown; the ball itself 14 pounds, and looking like swirled cream caught in a stop-time glaze. And you hold the ball in your hands which are not dark white though maybe exhibiting a casual tan; you grip it like you think a bowler might, with the one-two-three-slide coming up; with the brooklyn-side strike coming up, with the 7-10 split conversion, with the hook that pulls the ball from the gutter back to the pocket and spins the pins to the waxed floor coming up, the high five coming up and arm pump coming up, your feeling of worth coming up, you put the carrying case down with your other hand—which if this were another story would have been amputated and replaced with a gleaming hook—and you time the cars as they pass by underneath. Some might suggest timing kills the sport; that one might just let go without anger. But there is no anger here; no disappointment at the job you just lost, or the fight at school you have just run from, the bruises that mark your spine all the way down to your ass like a map, your woman or man who waits at home with the car running in the garage, the kid who has your name and the way you move but doesn't know you; you are not in distress and, no, Nintendo is not responsible, and no, Geraldo is not responsible, and no, N-Sync is not responsible either, and no, even you're not responsible. There is, however, a certain calculation, a feeling of order that keeps cars speeding on the Lodge Expressway in Detroit at 80 miles an hour no more than forty feet from each other, the rage that can build when you're in that car and some kid is skipping stones across the interstate like it was a slate gray lake, and one clicks across your windshield, spiderwebbing it because your car is so old is doesn't have auto glass, as you soon find out, though you didn't know there was such a thing as auto glass, auto glass that has a rubber coating so it breaks into squares and does not shatter, even under repeated blows from a hammer, you and your broth'r demonstrating this in a field, creating arcs in the air with the sledgehammer you took from your father’s tool shed and will not return. There is the force that holds the tire to the pavement, the body in the seat, the machines grinding in lines, the gears turning in a not unsurprising fashion, the viewer's limbs to the armrests and to the floors, the gauze to the blood to the body, the pin in the skin, the face to the pavement, the boot to the small of the back, the breath to the face, the heart to the fist, the lip to the lip, the light continually coming down like hot and awful rain upon the dirty hands of the earth; and how easily it can all be busted up like a crowd or a drunk, or cut apart like an artery, a vessel; it's like skin or thin meniscus, the concave or convex fluid curve to the lip of the cup, how a tiny penny can cut it, and spill; and then your breath is half out like you were firing a .22 in Boy Scout Camp, at targets or ducks, or after school at squirrels, or at the storm glass windows in old Mrs. Ligon’s house down the block, and how it is that you can cause an animal to cease its jitter and dance, and so you let go, and you watch, and the ball falls—like New Year's Eve—in slow motion in stop time like in water, or descending in vegetable oil, or into the slow water at the base of the Mariana Trench, and it hits or it doesn't, you become a headline or you don't, your father hit you or not, and this ends, or begins, and either way you should know I love you regardless of how things turn out.

   first published in Quarterly West