All the things I need are sitting next to me, unused. Another package arrives for us at the post office, full of more. My nose aches as it is carried for twenty minutes through the cold air outside, covered with a mask for 7 minutes, then carried back home for twenty more. Just above, my brain wonders if last-years’ boots still blend in with the Berlin scene. They could use a polish – and of course we have some at home, sitting on the shelf, waiting.
At home, flowers are pink and yellow and purple, soaking sweetly in slightly yellowed water. They don’t know about the recent snowstorm. They don’t know I’m waiting to hear from you. They are just flowers, pink and yellow and purple.
The laundry machine swirls. Does it smell like vinegar in the kitchen, to you? I used the rest of the bottle this morning to clean the black mold out of the place where you put the soap in. If your clothes smell faintly of fish n chips from the seaside, this is why.
My head aches like a hollowness. There was so much and is so much still coming. Packages and life and dentist appointments we need to make next month and airplanes and phone calls and feelings. She’s so little but she’s starting to see it, too: the depth of all of this. The distance. The places you have to walk in your big girl shoes. The height of an airplane up in the sky. The memories of snow-people you made last week, last year, before it all melted away into something more. The ways you keep changing, the ways people keep changing – good and bad. The sunshine and the darkness and the way trees look covered in too much snow.
Sleeve Season: I’m learning how to sew sleeves. Making things from other things is special. Historical. Important. Useful. Hopefully doesn’t end tragically. Come over and watch, we’ll make something together, end it all with a big group hug, surrounded by sleeves, screaming, stuffing more things into this life, stuffing more arms into sleeves, more arms around our loved ones, keeping them safe from this life that’s ever-changing – good and bad.
I know what time it is – the plants on my balcony fade from green to beige to dead-brown.
He knows what time it is but doesn’t want anyone else to know – but they know.
She knows what time it is but doesn’t care about me anymore – her life is on track and going very well.
They know what time it is – time to continue on as ever as the light fades away.
When I was little, Fall was a tall pile of crunchy leaves in the backyard. It was the great expanse of our place in the world made bigger by the absence of foliage – more space to play. Fall was the shrugging on of colorful, warm coats pulled from the front closet with the wide swinging doors.
Look at the girl, grinning. Dream of that girl, dreaming. Back before everything became different.
What do you remember? What will she remember – little sweet running thing, tiny small jumping thing, precious baby laughing thing? What can we make, build, burn, do for her? What did you ever think you could do?
Beauty staring into beauty, fading like colors of Fall, fading like memories of childhood, staring backwards at everything, staring forwards at everything. Take more pictures – they don’t fade as fast.
It’s raining this morning. Water falling from the sky – how far away is that? Tea sitting on my desk beside me. Leaves grown in Thailand – how far away is that?
We keep doing the same things. Shocking, maddening, damaging. All the colors of the rainbow. There’s no rainbow. Just rain.
People are afraid. Humans are frightening. Generations at war with ourselves and everything around us. How do we throw away fear? It’s kept us alive all these years. Well, some of us.
See, it seems we didn’t evolve enough. We stopped too soon, happily scraping our tools in the dirt. We’re all missing something. What is it? Can we know?
Pulling back, looking down at all of it from the rain clouds above, we’re just scrambling animals without a clue. The rain knows more than us.
He saw his mother put in the ground last year. She never knew the answer. He doesn’t know. Can’t seem to find it as his babies are being born into this world. Who is left to ask? We fragile things keep dying off before we can figure it out. Struggling to survive, still, even with our modern technologies. With our tea from the other side of the world. We’ve gotten really good at hunting and gathering. What else could we possibly need?
The grounds swirl at the bottom of my coffee cup, proving gravity exists as the sun rises. You won’t notice them as you sip your sweetened caffeine, don’t worry. This is European Style I tell myself. In reality it’s probably poorly done, but it makes me happy pressing down the plunger – a sense of satisfaction. Today, I did something. I pressed a plunger down and I made some coffee that tasted pretty good at least to the standards of how it usually tastes when I make my coffee which is pretty much every single time I ever have coffee.
This year has dragged on and drag-raced away. Somehow the plants have kept growing and the windowsills always need to be dusted again. Families have felt deep loss, countries have faced harsh realities, the world has taken a collective breath and held it, trying not to breathe on one another.
As the sun comes up and the level of coffee in my mug goes down, I think about power. The power of the wealthy. The power of kindness. How hard it is to be kind when you’re powerless, with no resources to your name. How easy it is to be kind if you make the choice, despite how the world has shown itself to be.
The very best people I know struggle to live the way they want to. The most deserving humans whom I love, suffer. Talent, goodness, and kindness are left to swirl down the drain along with the remnants of my morning coffee. These are the things we don’t care about.
The sun is all the way up now. We see exactly what we are. The lights are on bright as we string up more lights for this holiday season, as we fill and refill our mugs full. We know what we are, you and I. What shall we do about it?
Last year she quit her job, sold her belongings, and moved to another state. Now she’s back again, and we’re here pretending nothing happened – no man broke her heart, no time has passed, she’s just living in a different apartment now, working a different job – slightly shifted but the same.
In my dream they stood naked in a field. In my head he sings to me still, though I haven’t seen him in years. He sings, he sings, the sun goes away behind a cloud, my eyes disappear beneath their lids, water swells over the earth.
You want to listen to his music pre-2017, Bob Dylan in his early years, my music in the future, if there is one.
My professor said all humans seek recognition. It’s the only way we can know ourselves – to see our self through someone else.
It isn’t real life, he said. It echoes at me through the years. It isn’t real life.
What are we building now? The houses of our past has crumbled. My mind is crumbling. Must we always make something more?
You are still alive out there, somewhere, though I haven’t seen you in years.
My old Philosophy teacher doesn’t want to vote for Bernie. But we all already knew that there is a limit to the usefulness of Philosophy.
The strings we left dangling may yet be tied back together. All we have is the time we have left to see what happens: what dreams we will dream, what music we will lose and find again, what people will fade away or come back, what all we will build and tear down.
If she could see me now, she wouldn’t believe it. Look at us, I whisper at her through time, you’d love this. Everything you wanted and still nothing.
We are at the brink, at the edge of destruction, at the cusp, the final race, the last human choice. We will go forward from here. It may be a beginning or an ending – we won’t know for many years.
Years ago the future was dark to me – a mystery. It still is. He still is. We still are.
The ivy plant I stole is growing in the windowsill, so slowly. What will its future be?
You should write – you should sing – you should dance to bad music – you should travel before your hips and knees and eyes go out.
What is it to us? We cannot see the melting glaciers from our ivory towers.
She told me it was a fine example of fictocriticism. I told her I like to refer to it as my life.
Ich bin ausländer.
On the train a little girl tells her mom about London. London doesn’t hurt like Berlin does, she says, leaving the train. She goes back to her hotel. She leaves Berlin. She grows up and some other things happen.
Photographs like the blink of an eye. Memories like faded photographs. I can’t see anything in my head. All is dark here.
Today it snowed in the place where I was born. Today it was the hottest it’s ever been in Antarctica. We are all cold and dying like the sun. Her son will be born soon, into this mess we’ve made. Clean your room, child. Put your toys away. Be responsible for something.
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.