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Dusk and early morning look the same, share the same gray light. I am a mourning dove, cooing and crying. I replace the hot tears with a cool shower. When my hair is wet it swings in clumps of curls, dries straight. There is nothing to see out my window, doesn’t cure the loneliness of a gray and empty room.

I can’t think of his name. I drew his picture four times. We’ve spoken less. There is such great disquiet in my quiet soul it freezes in anger at any chance to free itself. I don’t know if I’ve always been like this, or if I’ve lost or gained something. My body learned how to feel anxiety as a pressure in my chest this year. Not all knowledge is useful or positive.

She is beautiful – she looks like someone I could love. Their laughter is silent, encapsulated in other. The person I am is in some other storybook, and I cannot read, and there is nothing to add.

 

 

 

 

He screams, roars, yells in the other room. He is a beast – we are all animals but we have lost our first voices. We cook with wooden spoons, move with metal cars, walk with rubber soles – we made nothing of it. I make nothing, sitting here in different countries on the Earth. It is not special, we will all end up back where we came from. This room is a breath of air. This day is 24 hours of trillions. We are nothing and I have yet to be anything at all.

His beer bottles rattle in a bag like bones picked apart and broken for marrow. He sips everything down – he’ll get you, too. Beer bones, protein teeth – her wilted hair needs watering.

Magic boy’s in town. There is a gold glowing path where they have walked. The sea parted and he and his friends went in. Not you, crazy man in the back of the dark apartment. Stay still. Be still and not seen. Fill your beer bottles later with the leftover water from their party in the river. Drink it down, get wasted on wastage, age faster and with a growing loneliness that no bottle can fill.

The journey was for nothing. They haven’t learned anything, Mr. Churchill. They will all kill each other again, clean it up, grow peace gardens, pick the fruit, eat it down to the roots, forget why they were hungry, get mad, find the old war. We shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t be here with his beer, drinking the same bottle down again, filling it up, losing hair and teeth and collagen, wrinkling down to the bone, fading away, filling up the Earth with broken bottles and coffins.

She was a shining girl leaning against a wall of a beautiful place during a beautiful place in her life. She had wonder. She wonders now if she’s lost it. And is it gone forever? Is this aging or a new age?

A little plant grows on her desk in the sunshine. He is reaching up. He is just a plant. He is growing. It is simple. We understand it.

To be a plant would be better. Let us all be plants. We will save the Earth and ourselves.

She sips water while the plant sips water. They are similar. Not the same. She has a lot to do still. The plant does the same things. She does the same things. They both grow. The plant might grow more.

She needs a new explosion. She is hiding behind the detonator. Something is different. She has packed something away – she needs to unpack. Cut the tape. Push the button. Scream. Grow more than a plant. Cultivate something.

If this is the only thing I am good at I will keep mining the words. I will hack at them with what mental strength I have that my arms do not share.

Everywhere is ugly. The ocean turns ugly, the palm trees turn ugly, the most beautiful old cathedral turns into yet another building you have to walk around to get to where you want to go.

Picture the male university professor. I have him stuck in my mind. He is tall, bearded always, shabby but neat, well spoken. He leans against the front table in the room, always, he sits there listening, nodding, looking for more people to tell him what they think morality is and is it real or did we just make it up and is there a god and what do you think about what this German philosopher had to say 500 years ago please give me 12,000 words double-spaced by Friday at midnight to my email.

I miss him, this authority figure who had all the answers and so many more questions. Your brain would never travel that far down a path otherwise.

I was 17 when he announced to the class full of college freshman, “There are two very strong writers in this room.” I don’t particularly know why he needed to say it — doesn’t that make the other 50 people feel bad? — and of course he went on to point us out — doesn’t that make us feel bad? — me and another girl, both of us quiet little mental philosophers who enjoyed listening and reading more than anything else.

Something Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal made me stop and think, I am listening to her, reading is listening. Writing is speaking. Hello, hello.

I want to write a book. I want to make a movie. I want to learn guitar and make music. These things are beautiful to me, like old cathedrals.

He tells me I don’t need to be so hard on myself. (Trust me, I’m not.) But what if that effort, that little mental push, is what draws the line between the successful author and the professor?