90 Elements & a Stamp Collection

October 5, 2008

I don’t understand why it’s so hard for me to let go. I stand by the bed and weep. My hands begin to tingle. I have a branch in my side. It grows and grows, pushing it’s way through my bones, rib cage; it refuses to bloom.

There’s this line, a thin string, that ties the rest of me together. I tug on it sometimes, just to see how far I can unravel, how far I can let myself liquify (partially) before it hurts too much to not be solid. Touch me. It’s all about ripples. I haven’t cascaded in ages. How does one achieve this? I don’t know. One time, I was walking along a park’s path and I saw a patch of ferns. I crawled over to them, put my cheek to their cheek and said “how can I return to you?” But it started to rain and I had to get back in time for the bus. I never figured out their secret.

Sometimes I think I see truth in another person, wholly unknown. I imagine their lives before they live them. Each path, I guess, leads to me. I know this because I dreamed I made you from clay. I set you up on the dresser to dry in the sun, your little hands still damp and delicate…and I thought how much I’d love licking your belly in my dream. Oh, I miss your imaginary body. How can one miss an imaginary body? Just imagine you placed them on a dresser in sunlight one day before kendling them. Imagine you spent hours on the tiny pores in their skin, wanting to give them the perfect form, perfect freedom of movement. And you could, because for once, your hands could recall skeletons long forgotten somewhere in Maine. Between mud and graves you sunk your knees to find the perfect fit for your imagined body. I like to think this way, from time to time. As though my mind is really a stranger left at some bus stop and I can’t quite get that sad, abandoned look out of my head.

I am avoiding molding the art that is you. I couldn’t. Every time I touched you, you burned and burst into immediate ash. It leaves me wiping my brow and wrinkling my eyes, thinking “how can I love anyone and not combust?” But perhaps I am the one who keeps burning, bursting into ash….because one time I almost told you I loved you and what happened? You comforted me with something like Darling, you’re so gregarious, don’t feel down

But I didn’t feel down. Not really, I only wanted you to take my hand.

Heartwood grows in the inner-most layer of a wood-bearing stem. It grows outward, radially, until it crushes all of the cell walls around it, which then collapse to form the bark. The bark is simply dead cells. We never see the heartwood unless we gut the plant. Gut the insides to make writing tablets from which we never wrote love letters.

If we could write love letters, some part of us would live forever masked in ink.

I had a friend once who wrote me from miles away. I’d keep all of her stamped envelopes in my sock drawer and stick the stamps on my bedpost near my lamp. At night the stamps would ripple when I half-way closed my eyes. I thought about her tongue against them, and how strangely close my dreams drifted to her. The stamps decorated the bed. Sometimes they would have flowers on them, and I learned every state bird that summer.

It’s like the strings in between my hands pull tight and I need some sort of clapping.

I wanted to write you again. This time I wanted to discuss what horses we would ride together in winter. Wanted the childhood to be in tact and not a slow tear along the corner of a college-lined paper, which used to be living inside of me.

For ages I bend over the imaginary stamps, categorizing tulips and perriwinkle, primrose and dogwood. I smell only glue and U.S. Postage weight. How can I dream of words? How can the envelope float in a glass above the ceiling, pouring milkened dreams? I can’t find myself, fumbling in a room of deadness. My weakness eats me like cancer. Regardless, cells regenerate themselves, knowing the script. Alive means knowing there’s no end to the string, just variations in color.

And the stamps peal off the wood. The branches lose their lignin and curl in to degenerate. It will take years, but eventually, coal will form, a bit of sandalwood will wash up on the North Sea shore. Each hair on the head came from a bit of dust. Carbon fuses with hydrogen and I suppose my body will mulch itself into the root systems of plants, someday.

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