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part one of three in a series: Beyond Hope

This is the beginning of one hundred days. It is wrong, when to say no— nothing happens, yes nothing happens in the head of one building or one sidewalk. At the top of a generation all things fall over the edges and some will give each one a way of saying. It can’t be you are missing, or that given a slope you react. You can’t ask if we are wanting you; all of we is a silent tall. No one even broke these minutes but thanks and evening. You can’t empty any minute. Stop the red wavering. That should be ablaze, you want to speak code vivid. Your mother is just old. She has come so far into this end, it is almost impossible to reach her now. This won’t be a trick. I don’t want to copy you by talking about my sex life, but ours are so different. Maybe you won’t notice. Trucks and trailers all along the highway. That was a trip many families had taken. We passed them and the top was down. We were imagining we were alive.

I’m thinking it could all be starting now. This place is sitting and enough are behind you for you to go on. Don’t bother those stories. The last time you attempted that, you fell face on. However, you might remember on the first day of being alive you didn’t know it, and now you exist. All in the windows failing to be clear on the way. Someone said their mother was dying. You don’t know which window she looked out of. Halt. Gain a circle and watch it all around. To fill anything up was well. To sit anything back was well when done. To be running to and from was lost. And losing is something you know less of tonight. Saddle is the color of a dark opening, to hear the keys rattling outside of the door could be a misunderstanding, a dread or a hopefulness. Any movement could be any of those things.

You reached across and laid your hands on both sides of me. That was our sex life for the time being. I wondering where you were and wanting the phone number of that place could be our sex life for the time being. Rattle. You were waiting for alone time to end. I was wishing I wouldn’t have said I wanted anything. I said I wouldn’t ask for anything, I spoke a lot and said I thought you were someone. Maybe you were in disagreement. Maybe having this facility is too easy. Maybe any mark would be laughed at. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you about all of it . Maybe nothing bogus has happened. Or who knows what anyone thought or who would be able to tell you had forgot. Hell, how do you call the worth of it. Hell, blank, bawdy. There is no timeline to this. Not even then will you be able to skip ahead or go back to bed. Just now I want to go back to bed. But I’ll wake up and I’ll say to you, where is it. I know where you are and you can’t take me with you. A crowd of people will stand all around watching you cry and it’s possible they will get distracted or say, you aren’t serious, your voice is too squeaky, and they might go looking for a new leader. How can you blame anyone for wanting a new leader. When someone takes the lead you can go back to bed, but in the morning there will be stories. You won’t know them, you won’t know what the stakes are. How can I tell a story of sitting in the same place for a long time. There is a story of staying in the same place for a long time. Where did you come from, Where to. You are not our leader when you are all the time asking directions. Stop looking around at other people’s girlfriends. To be alive when they are dead. Going away from what I remember. I can’t remember the day that was yesterday, it was Saturday you said, what did you do.

Should we be keeping secrets. With everything we’re doing tucked slight and under until finally we punch out with all of it. Never say this would be curbed or flattened. Moving past all the houses we’ve lived in. Who’s up there. Some of them were, when you were on the inside, looking in from off the low streets and down in from the high streets. We can lie in bed holding hands and not worry about how close we are. You are torching up my sides. I couldn’t tell your story for you. Hold it, I can’t be running out before I’ve gotten in. I have to get in. Get in here. Black night sees us walking all the way around this neighborhood. An old neighborhood can make me want to go back to bed or it wipes sometimes all the boards dry. Crossing the street in a white T-shirt. When you couldn’t see the whole day you looked on and thought we were confused. It can’t be directly from me or that would be too personal. Happen. Nothing isn’t happening today, but is passing young, like I am compared to you, who are old like an old man’s mother is dying somewhere. You stay young for me and never leave me. Agree to it. I will also agree to it. Around town you aren’t known for being so removed. Tell me something about how you are now. What is this about.

I want to tell you not to say that. I want to tell you not to say your questions. This is a place for questions. Why are you such an asshole? Why did you waste yourself. How can you say someone has wasted themselves. How do you want it to look like. How do I look like. I have a pointy chin, I don’t mind. I have wished for a covering that is smooth and new. Like something can last so smooth under water. Underwater your face is smooth for thousands of years, your alabaster face stays still under the water. Water bug in his house. A tall house a hundred feet tall. A pink house with pink wood. How many times have you said one hundred. With a lifted face you remember what it felt like so many times like it was the first. It was the first every time was it?

I have someone who I’m going away from for a while. What’s it like. It’s like everything disappearing long before it leaves. And when you don’t know it’s leaving before it leaves? What’s it like. It must be like everything disappears for a long time after, and keeps disappearing until everything is gone. And then do things come like a new set of teeth. Welcome. Years can pass before anything seems to leave. And all of a sudden. Close your eyes and say what you see.

When I close my eyes I see the Edward Hopper painting of all the young guys at
the outside bar. And the yellow neon. I don’t know if that’s how the painting is but that’s how I see it. I see James Dean leaning over. Isn’t it scary when you close your eyes and you can’t see anything. Isn’t it scary when you close your eyes at night and you can’t stop seeing things. Sometimes when I hate someone, I talk to them to myself, and I’m not hating them then when I’m talking to them, and I want to say, I never hated you, but it seems impossible. Isn’t it hard to stop hating something once you’ve said you hated it. I don’t like having to do that. Almost as much as beginning to hate at all. I hate the beginning of hating at all. Today I wasn’t afraid of anything. Except for a minute I was afraid of a lie. Like when everything seems like one. I like a meal that has in it something starchy and something meaty, there should be something salty and something sweet like jam. In the meal there should also be something refreshing like a sprite, a juice, or lettuce because there should be something crisp. Also, there should be something to alter the state of mind like coffee, or wine, or a beer. Now we are not hungry. I see someone is coming.

There’s no dread today. Just a fast flash of jealousy. I saw a girl out by the deli, and even though I barely saw her I thought about how you would want to have her. Maybe I wanted her. We want so much just on the surface of our skins. I listen to the music coming from the other room. So I feel crowded. And it sounds good coming from there. I am in the other room. Or on the surface of it. Pushed. The train passes. I want it to be quiet so I can hear you. But then I would always be alone. No. I can’t think with this everywhere. Green hollow. I’m outside of the place where I can do this. I keep coming in and out and the music is too close.

Last night I had dreams about all the things I’d like to have. I was covetous and rejected. My aunt said, don’t come visit me. We were on the phone but still I could see her face. And she looked mean and she said don’t come visit. Someone’s daughter that I’d known for a long time said, I don’t recognize you. The other guy had small objects that I wanted. He had nice eye glasses and other small things. I stole one pair from him. Then I gave them back. I’m thinking about all the things I wanted to tell you about today when I was walking around alone. I like you. 9L95 is the number on the cab that was sitting at the red light outside the window. Now there are other cars passing through the green light. This gets off the ground sometimes and it’s a place some nights. Sometimes a place isn’t what it was last night and our voices aren’t what they were when we were alone. Do you believe me. I said I would go a certain distance with you tonight, am I failing? I’m just here tonight. You’d say no if you were wanting to read a biography or if you were writing a biography or expecting one. Still, at this point I don’t feel comfortable putting any one’s name in here and calling a you seems strange. Will that change.

Maybe soon I will call you by your names. Many of the times I sing the songs to myself during the day that I heard you singing the night before and I rarely remember all the words unless I write them down and read them when I’m singing them or if I work really hard to remember them from off the paper. I can get real thin about being alone and when I am who knows, maybe I’ll be stronger than I thought. Or maybe it will just be very quiet and I won’t rewrite the letters but just put them down and send them. I might say, these are not me but they’ll come to you anyway, and that might be a long time from now even though it’s only a week away. What’s it like, when you are going away alone. Maybe you are always alone. Who are you that I’m talking to. It seems like we haven’t met. I fought with a kid today who said he couldn’t understand why anyone would need to speak more than two languages. He got tears in his face and he wanted to blame me for everything. Everyone is in the room tonight. And after they go I’m sitting in everything that was said. Over in the brain that likes to go over and over again the sounds we make or the ones we say were mistakes. The loud sound mistakes make.


Elizabeth Reddin


The Brooklyn Rail

APR-MAY 2003

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