It’s all going through a kind of evaporation: the moisture in the air, the colors in my face; the snow pack, the sensible world; the distance from my apartment to the bus stop to the office and back. The days are kept in stasis by a fire line of loss and assumption.
When the sun goes down, raccoons come out from the alleys and cross the streets in pairs like lovers rushing home. In the end what’s left of the buildings will make a city of sundials.
I woke up this morning and thought about my grandmother and cried for a long time. I’m not sure why, exactly. When I stopped, my ears were ringing. I was remembering some things she told me: cut your hair when it becomes shapeless, consider taking glucosamine for your joints, find something you want to do and do it, like your distant cousin, the highway engineer. I was remembering her face which is dissimilar to all other human faces I have yet seen, in the way that it seemed made out of glass, and the way that she always seemed to be standing somewhere far away, very high up.
It’s cold again, so I stay inside. I stay in a room with a space heater in order to keep the thermostat a few degrees lower. I hope this will save me some money. The pleasure I get from this, like everything else I get or do not get, is inexplicable in geologic time. My apartment has its own motivations and gathers a bolus of disutility. Sink full of cold bowls, blue beds in two rooms. Like emanations from a haunted forest on the outskirts of a city.
The light outside is orange all winter long but soon it will be a bright, bright white. The orange is obsolete now and we are told the white light will save us millions. Millions saved for those now living. The slanted ledger, the shifting exchange somehow balances out each day. The snow melts on my window, the furnace burns the passing hour, here where there’s room and time for two. The winnowing is just a semblance of a winnowing. Look east before dawn and you can see four planets in a glance.
The briefest look around this city reveals much that will not be explained, it’s no use wondering, why is there a bale of wire wrapped around this railing, why is there haystraw in this urinal, why is there a queen mattress at the bus stop, why is that person over there crying. Every night I come home and put my bike on my shoulder and carry it up the stairs to my apartment. What is the opposite of mindfulness? I change my clothes in the kitchen some times. I keep the radio on to break the silence. If a utility bill has arrived I am happy because those in particular I can handle masterfully.
There is a man at my office whose job it is to stand and say “good morning!” loudly into the middle distance as people are coming to work. Also into the middle distance he comments on the news of the day. “They shot up another school? That’s crazy.” Imagine the phone is not there and you have a drowsy species of animal drawn forward by the back of its hand. Imagine the people are not there and you have a slow procession of black mirrors touring the business districts and coming home to rest on the bedside table.
I’m in New York City saying to myself, have a good time why not big city no problem. No need to be burrowing deep on into ruminations walking around with such a pocket full of money. So I’m walking around outside, I walk to the park. There’s a concession stand so I go up there to get myself a treat but when I give the lady the money she says something like gammin nya even, so I say what. Gyam nammin yah even, she says again but more clearly this time. I say what? My name? It’s Tyler I say but that’s not the right thing. So the lady starts laughing, she turns and rolls her eyes at her coworker who is also laughing, and so I take my receipt to go and wait for my treat by the other window. It’s a milkshake.
A recalcitrant labradoodle stands to my left, maybe the fifteenth I’ve seen today. It’s standing strong against its leash denying its owner the chance to walk away from this milkshake stand though he has already gotten his treat. This city stuff isn’t for me, I say to myself. I wish I were back in Tuskaloosey my home. They have different kinds of dogs than these labradoodles walking around everywhere. They talk in the English language so I could understand. Crack me open now and you will hear a sound like ngrakkkk like a big egg. Some day soon I may think that gyam nammin yah even, that sounds something like are you having a good evening, but no, no, not today.