And when what I say is met by incomprehension, and most of what I say is, my spirit dies. Over and over again it dies, and I smile and I sigh and I shrug, and when I am on the night bus going home the blue light sinks into my skin and the stench of my own decay stings my eyes. Because there is no one to match my strange. Because you read my diary and you say, “this is a story about magic realism.” Because I get along fine with everyone because I’m a Gemini and we hide the parts of ourselves that are incompatible and we have two heads and one laughs while the other cries. Because I don’t believe in astrology but I slept with an agate under my pillow. And I dreamt a way out but I have forgotten it. I have forgotten what I meant to say when I said:
Quiet: there is no one here but me.
The professor is commenting on a Bishop poem. He talks about dreams and what it means to enter the spiritual realm. A man transforms into a dolphin – who is already him – his hair smells like the lake. The rain has stopped but it will begin again. Students are graduating in a white tent on the field. A beeping outside: even that, peaceful. I follow The Path and it leads me home. (Still here, in class.) My glasses are half dark. Should I be taking notes? I watch the ceremony from my mind. The graduates walk up a staircase and disappear into the lake.
“It’s weird how easily you can be replaced.”
The whole class makes one cento.
—June 15, 2017
The apocalypse comes to mind. In the subway heading to the turnstiles. I can’t move my left arm because it’s wrapped in plastic. New tattoo. Half sleeve. I’m getting up and I’m suddenly conscious about my posture. “How fresh is that?” “Last night.” Everyone is looking / time to bring both fists down / and you don’t keep your word. Is it because you don’t remember or because you don’t care. The joke’s on me because there is no difference. I learned about priorities and how every act is deliberate and now I can see through everything. Including myself. I’m not even here. Someone recalls something I said on the first day of class. A reminder: senses are stored, memory is picked. Does this make you want to puke? (I’m sitting in The Buttery alone waiting to go meet Walton at JHB.) I want to go home (it’s time to bring both fists down) waiting for M to publish my poem waiting for my copies of MS to arrive in the mail waiting to finish my— I’ll know when it’s done/how will I know when it’s done? Waiting for death waiting to escape it [death]. Waiting for my arm to start itching. Do my tattoos complement each other? I don’t get tattoos I grow new skin! Everyone is busy! What does that mean. Busy I’m busy I’m on my phone and I’m so busy. H8 u anyway.
The lake was / for the first time in months / a mirror / It was like ice after the first lick / When you take it out of your mouth and put it in your palm / and it’s like you can see right through it / like glass / but there’s only more clear / clear opening to clear / and the sky on its surface / the sun still busy threading light into the clouds / I could see Dali’s elephants / faint in the distance / moving so slowly / I hold this in my heart.
Today is quiet and I feel other lives touching mine—and they are mine, except I can’t reach [the past] them. Books will steal your brain and leave a kaleidoscope in its place. I am restless and angry with myself. I am going to carry binoculars around so I can see what those trees are doing so far out in the lake—looks like it’s going to rain again. [A rabbit! Behind the fence.] We’ll meet on my neighbour’s roof.
—phone notes, June
I saw two boys on the train who were the same person and I was the only one who knew it. One was gross and the other was evil. I had been reading Frank O’hara before boarding—though I did not have my glasses—and by that point my eyes had swam back into my head so I did not get a good look at either. Not that I wanted to. You should never make eye contact with boys on the train.
One was on the upper level, the other I saw as I was getting off. They never saw each other. Somehow, they were connected. Partners in crime. Possibly in another dimension. I also saw a ghost on the train, in the seat across from me. I thought it was my future husband, time travelling. Then he took my brain and I fell asleep. He’d meant to erase my memory of him—a non-human, I mean—but either changed his mind or did a sloppy job.
Never start your day without coffee.
The things that discourage me also encourage me. Great art is a cathartic beauty. I find myself at the last page of a novel and no longer know what to do with my hands. With myself. I want to lie down for a while, maybe forever. I never want to write again. How can I? How can I when this, this, exists?
How can I not try?