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:
the person I love most in the world stands in front of me and I think to shake their hand and I think this is my only chance and I hold out my hand to the one I love and my hand is full of rocks and I stand there with my arm out and my hand is full of rocks and I think to shake their hand I think my only chance my hands are full of rocks the one I love the most has gone away my hand is full of rocks
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
I can’t walk bare feet in the junkyard because all the metal will cut me and then I’ll have to worry about infections – it’s never the initial cause that kills you always the infection – at least from what my mom tells me, she’s a doctor. All I do in the junkyard is kick around so I definitely would get cut if I was bare foot. I stepped on glass once. Or it was my cousin who stepped on glass and I watched as she stood there with her heel lifted, her blood already pooling on the gravel. Stepping on different textures is supposed to stimulate your brain. There is this park with a special path made out of smooth stones just for stepping. I never finished the path because my feet always hurt after a few steps. My mom says my skin is still too soft. Freud says the skin is the bodily ego. They are both doctors. And I think that’s really funny the thing with doctors and skin because I’m in a hospital bed right now surrounded by doctors and none of them are telling me to put on my shoes and I’m beginning to wish they would because my feet are getting cold. My feet are getting so cold.
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 golden eagle swoops down and grabs me by its talons and I am the eagle and I am taking a nose dive but I bounce up, right before impact, I bounce up and I soar higher than I’ve ever gone. And this continues—with so much strength the air is sliced open by my beak—diving/bouncing to infinity, like a heart going into frenzy, forever.
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