Dear, Damn I Miss the Cactus


I couldn’t write so I clipped metal paperclips in various places over my body. Think of the monks that used to find bits of pebble and stone to put in their shoes. Things like that. People walk by and wonder why I look the way I do, or why there are bald spots on my head, why grouplings of hair, like stranded bouquets, lie around in the library, waiting to grow. I don’t know much about monks, but if they didn’t shave their heads, they may have pulled out every last one of them. Maybe visions, maybe light tunnels.

My uncle believes in aliens. I thought I’d grow wild if I spun in a field, dizzy for believing in something lightyears away. There was a schizophrenic once who said God could see us via the rays of the sun, and the sun had spoken a language to him since he was born. Do all children wake, hearing moon-whispers? Man in the moon, build me a boat, cast me down the river Jordan, that sorta thing.

So I must look ridiculous with metal clips stuck to me, clamped on like ducklings. Hold still long enough and each one is discernable. Maybe like the sun, speaking in a language, through my body, a kind of ecstacy.

Someone asked me, maybe it was in my head, maybe they were real, why I’d pinch myself ten times over.

Wanted to revisit the cactus field, I’d say. Or stray from being lonely.

There was a man, today, walking a street, thinking he could taste my body. I said this out loud, but maybe to no one, maybe an ant or a mouse who took a hole in the wall for morning prayers.

Anyway, this man, thought he loved the heals of my feet, or an image of me in Spain, talking to one of the locals about real estate, after ordering a dish consisting mainly of olives, wearing a new pair of stockings. He thought about teeth and a cathedral, Mass and the stockings together.

I wouldn’t consider myself completely over the idea. And the mouse, saying his prayers, knows this.

What are you doing with the paper clips? he asks.

I got them out to pinch myself, I said.

Why would you do that? He asks, picking up one to try on.

Better than pulling my hair out, I said.

Six dozen, half the other. OUCH! How can you do that? he said.

If you get a lotta skin, it’s not so bad.

Under the weight of what the dinner party tries to lift, a loneliness vibrates like a whirlwind through a desert. And cacti can hold secrets like God-hasn’t-split-the-great-grain-wood.

So, the man in my head. Do you remember my lists? Gather together. The ant and the mouse, the walk and Spain’s sun-rays.

An image pushes through. Like each pinch, a ducking clamped to a bit of me, their beaks devout.

I bet if monks picked pebbles as lovingly as God, there would be visions or light rays in dreams so unbelievable, no one would need pain to ground their body to earth. 

The dinner party wouldn’t carry the weight, each other’s loneliness, and the man in my head, you remember him? He would be the one fastening the clips when I couldn’t write.

Hold still, he’d say. Another five prayer beads.

Look at the ant and the mouse, I’d say. So devout. So sad they can’t sing.

Anyway, I wanted to revisit the cactus, the filed where, if I fell, the earth-knives would do all they could to make me forget, watching the sun set dirty and God-damn, I miss you.


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