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Beyond Hope: part 2 and 3

In the dark this isn’t the same. I can’t plan out before I get to you what it will be when we meet. Is this a meeting, you sitting here and I having been sitting. It isn’t that we’re conversing, just changing seats. Good morning. Good morning. Now that anyone knows, the tone is different. Does the tone change when we find each other out. Strange practice to hide away saying no, no, No! No, no, no, no, No. I am sitting in silence and then to come out, having been all the time here trying to get in. Following the lines like around your wrist. How. I will not prepare an apology. Was the apology for them. All the conversations of the day are switching back and forth; back and back and back and back. When I think about drowning I think of it in something thick. Like the way you murdered the waterbug with the liquid dish soap. But today was a long walk and my shoes seemed heavy, and I scraped them along the pavement all the way home. It took a long time to get home that way. I stopped at a swing set and swung back and forth. I worried about straightening my legs on the way down, to go higher, thinking I would break my feet. I see you are having a hard time when you walk. I can’t be in your legs but you work at walking. Standing becomes an activity. Looking over the edge. Our surface. The lines we keep inside. Flat like on paper, so different when it’s moving, down the street, into the restaurant, into the pool. Its strange to look around and find you are alone suddenly. Like in a park you’re walking, and you look to the back and ahead of you. All the little sounds become big like what you were humming or the plastic bottle in your bag folds. The road looks long ahead. No one’s around. It seems so obvious you’ll die here. Then you see a pair walking up ahead, and pick up to singing like before. Taken out of your soft stomach, you become tough again. Are you watching saying, how did you get in. I say I stayed for more than sinking. How can you say. No matter when. I will when you do. Stop before you. Should you have. I’ll never. I always. Why did you. Still I might if you would only. You are not here just to throw it all around. Think yourself wise. What horse did you bet on. How did you choose your horse. How much longer do you think horse racing will go on for. Don’t pick titles from here.

I wonder what I’d see if I closed my eyes right now. I see sand, there are men sitting on a bench also made from sand, their skin is shining in the black night, there is red in the vision, red cloth. Do you see something right away when you close your eyes? I spilled hot tea on my leg after I said “please don’t make jokes about that” and I think now, no rule making. When I make rules I stub my toe. Do you believe in that. Quiet, many are sleeping. Don’t wake them. Tonight by the window I don’t feel like I’m in. When another leaves we say, how will it be when you are gone, and I will be alone to think alone, and to look around by myself. It’s been long since I last heard a siren. It’s been a long time since I heard a good deep echo. What else has been long. Strange when something comes to the front and you say “it’s been so long since I saw that time,” and you see it then in the private of your mind. Strange when everything gets quiet all of a sudden. I’m not sure I’m finished. There’s a cockroach on the kitchen sink.

It can make me mad to come home and thinking someone might be there I find no one. Then I have to fend for myself and say let me into a private place where no one else can be anyway. You said in my kitchen the other day “it’s good you have that person, you need someone to be with all the time.” I get mad when nobody’s at home and it’s too late to clean anything up and the bugs are waiting to come creeping around. I hate feeling like a copier. Do you ever think about getting shoes too much but never get a pair. Reverse a time change. Do you think this is lazy even if I always do it. Are you feeling bad tonight like you did last night, I wasn’t there. I won’t straighten the table cloth though it’s crumpled under everything I’m doing. I can’t plan birthday parties. Is it bad to decide that you can’t do something. Is it too definitive or is it good to see your limitations. Do we have limitations or do we just have jobs. Do you read the newspaper everyday. I like piles of newspapers in a house if they’re by the door looking like someone might be getting ready to throw them out. It frightens me to see piles of recyclable things being saved but never being thrown out. Is it sad to you to look out the window waiting for someone when it’s late and you should be in bed or your mind should be keeping you busy. Is a mind that looks out always out a failure. What type is that. Do you read books about types and jump at taking personality tests. Do you want to have the future be told to you like having your palm read. Do you always think about having a pet but never get one. Do you believe in having pets. Syncopate. Do you bounce when you walk. Do you wish now that I would say something about the kind of people who bounce when they walk. The gym is like old factory times or new factory times. Did you ever have someone call you owl. Are your eyes the wide kind that when you were little people asked if you had a staring problem, or do you have the small kind of eyes that blink a lot and people do they say or did they when you were a kid say to you “you have beady little eyes. Do people trust you just after meeting you. Do you care so much what they think that at times you think you are becoming them when they tell you their stories. Over there. Do you have a collection of anything. Do you have many small collections. Are you a fan. If you don’t have any collections do you ever wish you did and see people with collections as being different from yourself. Do you ever wish you were more like them. Do you ever spend too much time on the corner thinking what you might do, where you might go to next, watching the people pass all going to different places. Do you want to ask them, where are you going. Or ask them, what do you think about telling secrets. Do you think we should tell the whole truth. Do you tell the whole truth even about how old you are. Do you care about how old you are. What about being a virgin, do you ever think about the first time. I remember a waterbed. Do people have waterbeds anymore. Did you throw something of yours away when you were a kid that you wish you still had. Should I say stop the questions. I will for tonight. The night. So simple. Canopy bed. Tall posted bed. Bed with a dip in the middle. High bed to step up to like in a fairy tale. Do you know the one where the ogre means to eat Hop O’ and his brothers but instead eats his seven daughters in the night. The night.”

Decide. Either plan the party or spend the afternoon in the park or die. Remember consequences. Go get him something. It’s getting hot, we are all asserting our independence. We might need the others more in the winter when it’s cold and everyone is hiding. But now we say, I’m out! I’m running with all of it coming off of me like time can when it’s light out. No shadows. Blown like the old movies. Like where you came from. Yes Dear. Surely. I’ll be leaving soon. For how long I can’t say. Be a dear and. Darling, bring me my. You are always monitoring your accomplishments. There are many ways to build a timeline. On the wall, behind your forehead, a rolodex. Some of us just see the passing, never counting the days, or adding the days to make years and strides. Red. Give it away, your favorite thing.

There are times when there are many favorite things and then what happens to favorites. My favorite color is. My favorite ice-cream flavor is. Today I stomp around and I say hate. I hate. I hate this and I hate you. I hate. I hate you. You are horrible. Mean and horrid. I’ll chase you down. Like pulling back the curtains and walking to the center, everyone is watching. I sing the one about mother, each of us knew her, or still know her, or can talk to her. What mother was the one that you waited for, and watched for. Your babyhood you looked for. And cried for.

I’ll cry all day biting the towel. Don’t go. But we want a punctuated life, with journeys and phases beginning and ending. When this began I could count to one hundred and now look how far I can see. I can see everyone. A thin line all around this world. A little part of us all just raised above the surface. They can see it from far away. I forgot about you. I left you to wait for me. Is this worth it. Nothing is worth standing and waiting your whole life for a piece of fruit. What action makes action-fruit. If you want to cry when I hold you up after a long time has past and everything is crumbling under you. This isn’t an errand. I take advantage by forgetting. I can’t get in. Faint. I’ll pretend to faint and then I won’t be accountable. What is it when we deem one unaccountable. A severe punishment. For who?

At a time this will be all there is, no one at the table will know the songs you used to sing in the dark room of being so small. Your ceiling collects hundreds of flying nightmares. You can’t stay so close to night for long. Doesn’t the night send you away, making you forget everything. Awake. A hot drink goes well with it but nothing can cure forgetting. Especially late night when all the others have gone to bed and you have no tunnel in which to send your apologies. The soft type relinquished and fetters all strewn on the hard floor. You had no confidence in the station. The arrivals were slow coming in. Your face was no older from the last 20 years. I have adapted my eyes to the conditions. So, now what about grace. What is you favorite bird. Nesting. The opposite of leaving for the season. The season to walk all night with someone you live with. Walk out into the dark night.

I don’t want to tonight. Tomorrow is the last chance. Chances. Last chance is never so likely. You can wait it out and watch what will happen. Victorious. A grand hotel. Dragging. Just, I want to say go to bed. I am yourself. Harrow hollow egress grip linger bream heat graft pomegranate grab loosely anything passing and make it yours when you don’t have anything else in the world. Is that your tradition. Tricks. A cloth covered hole. A good trick is a surprise. Boo. A slap on the wood. It has been a long time since I closed my eyes. Just almost asleep did you imagine what a trip might have been like this time of year. I hadn’t sat so quietly since my father left. This is a late night.

Up the ladder you. I can’t remember where I was coming from, the hole closed up on the other side of the cloth. There was a peekhole wasn’t there? Now it’s all open. Keep Talking. You keep talking. Since pine needles can burn faster we’ll use them. This is the beginning again and I swore off of beginnings. Nose bleed when I am worrying what are you thinking. Do you know I’m having a cheese sandwich. Are you thinking how I haven’t offered you one. Do you know I’ve got all the ingredients for one here in my house. I can’t present it without the chips. I thought I should’ve bought them. I didn’t know for sure that you would want them. What if I offered them and they seemed indulgent. Flavored Chips! Take them away! Unrake the yard! Fie! Who are you serving. Make the offering. You see something I might like? Well then I like it. That’s the end isn’t it. Perfect, this began a beginning and ends an ending. What happens after that? Construction? It begins.

Did you understand the language? What did they say to you. Oh, they weren’t talking to me. Did anyone join hands? Hardly. But there were two off in a corner of the yard. They had a bench swing and on one end one sat up while the other was lying over on her lap, her feet still were touching on the grass. The other, though she sat upright, her legs being shorter, were let to hang, just swinging. And the one upright took to petting the hair near the ear of her daughter and that one who’s feet were touching was given to rest and it seemed quiet where they were from where I was sitting. I was lying with my feet touching and I was correct for a moment. You try to look ahead, you want to stop before you’re through, you want to end now but I beat back a beginning. I stop measuring beginnings in Hope. I am left alone with no penetrating one in Hope. There is standing room. Skylight. There are bear and woman. There is silence in the night between sounds. I haven’t broken off to the granulated pull. Yes today. There was a flea in your underwear last night. Was I saying I before. You are with so many, and you lead them around. They are young and follow you. Finding green pebbles. Blue all around on the signs, on the uniform, just gradual. When the line appears you say, I have been here before. This is a familiar line, do you remember having passed it? You may say that to me. When I see a line I may turn into the glare and say, have you seen this line. I don’t think I do see it. Or saddle or backdoor to the forest, or a nice fixture somewhere, or your head underwater for a flash, or a slow looking up from that water, or on your back someplace like you have been under the sky, you must have been at some point under the sky haven’t you. This time it feels so long but I’m not tired yet. What am I agreeing to? Well, you aren’t agreeing to anything yet. What am I agreeing to when yet arrives? I’m waiting for yet to arrive.

Start counting. Handrails are perforce at a stage. But I can still push a wheelbarrow. One can’t be decidedly useless. Don’t tell them what to do and see what happens. She’s walking. Where. The forest. There are big holes to throw things in and leaves and dirt to cover it with. The dog was on the floor. When I looked into his eyes I felt like a teenager. I think he wanted to have sex with me. Grant it. Help her over someone. Crying out loud. Look back over what this is the only time I have been here. What did you say was cumulative? Only sentences can be that long. We weren’t on that other side of the world. But can you hear something faint. We haven’t any idea how these things came to be believed but it was advantage and someone was taking it. I heard little girls are taking the disease out of their elders. Is it for us. It doesn’t feel like it. That’s in another language. Maybe you know. Where is apology. So many are humiliating. I can say anything to you. I don’t like saying take me. Construction happens before. So it has to be inside. Just tell them forget it. Normalcy, the way it comes and splits. Just under little trees. Your horse ate a peach out of your hand and it dripped on your white britches. I didn’t beat anyone at horse shoes or at pool and pinball is recreational. Are you leaving? Don’t take that tone. Don’t seem skipping. Trainlike sounding but not stopping. I won’t watch anything for as long as I would have watched that face. I was tied on. Just like I am not tied to you. You can say I was lost up on that mountain, but I had all my winter gear on. This isn’t a test it’s just happening. Do you believe in that. Not Oh, I can if I feel like it. You are or you aren’t. You can’t tell me. We hadn’t talked for a long time and you say, let’s forgive each other forever. I will agree to it. But I can’t get tough enough. I hate it that I’m not supposed to go through your drawers. I remember we had swinging doors like in the westerns. And corned beef hash. I touched a sheep’s head but I don’t remember it. I fed a baby cow with a bottle and I remember how it sucked on my fingers.

You know that you’ve done things but you can’t remember, and others you can see them. Like last night’s dream. I hate lying. When I tell some lies. Limit the time you will allow this green. What sweeping was it, whose driveway was it, did you feel taken advantage of, were you too unsure whose work it was you were doing. Don’t try to get in. You just turn it back he said, ask a question. But that wasn’t it was it. You were turning your face around.

This doesn’t have to be for anything even if you are too old to do something without a distinct purpose. This wasn’t for the purpose of saying in any particular way. I was hoping you’d be waiting for me. No one will be waiting. Everyone wants their time to be alone. But we are still fighting. If you’re wishing me away. All right, I believe you he said to the one who was saying he was nothing. It was painful to see the one who was something, and knew it, say to the one who was nothing and felt like nowhere that he agreed. How many times have you said no more of this, no more saying you thought you would break. Are becoming only more breakable. Not easy to break all the way. So one part broken another part broken. And to look broken makes it worse now. When you are too old to cry with it. When the basement isn’t filled up with your work, or when all of it can fit into one small box and everything that seemed to be in the sun or becoming anything is now antiqued or crumbling. This is supposed to be the peak of your life! Am I bringing you down. All the worrying of saying, shit, your trying too hard, you haven’t said enough, where is your sense of humor, you aren’t a kid anymore. You aren’t even there to tell me not to look over your shoulder. I am too big even for you anymore. Stop measuring your length. What made us go on after he was gone. And for everyone, there is that he that is gone. I won’t say you have been sitting too long with the wall to look at. There didn’t seem to be any one thing. That there are things that get in the way. In the way of what.

And with some you may speak of all there is, and leave as empty as when none of it was said. There are the years when we come to the surface and scream, let me out!, Let me out! Then a pie comes to the door. Did you forget. He said go down to the dock and lie on your back and look at the stars for a couple of hours; see where/how you belong in the universe. You are a personality to have around. Beam stripe all of this. There was no interior that was as familiar as that one in the dream, it was a classroom. There was a story with most names. I can’t make you my mother.

Many years will pass; looking for the right mother somewhere. I couldn’t be so important. It was more than your connection, you were tied to that break. Not yellowing. There was a stack of games you grew up playing; Gin Rummy, Hide and Seek, Hungry Hungry Hippo, Doctor. What did you grow up doing. After some time that place is so changed. Until what point are we growing up. Is there a lilt in acknowledgment. I was staying up to enjoy the night; there wasn’t anyone else to watch. For how many days did you stop yourself from putting everything into the other room. There were stacks of things. Running out of places so many things begin getting lost and who is it that doesn’t care about that. Return nothing. Don’t return any of it. There are no returns. The garden has been redesigned entirely anyway, and you stand in the corner shadow. You better go out and take that trash back in that you put out there, or something is going to come in the night and get at it and everyone will find out just what you’ve been throwing away. No you won’t be able to read it over. It is out of your hands. For tonight you will have to find some way of falling asleep. Do you think this is helping.


Elizabeth Reddin


The Brooklyn Rail

JUN-JUL 2003

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