Places to Breathe
While locking the cage. Hilltop cemetery. End of world. Just before the bingo numbers are drawn.
Places to Sing
Sleep, fallen living room, oceanbottom, or winter. Over coffee. Under a cover of darkness. Just in time.
Places to Fall Apart
Repeatedly. In hot air balloon with beloved Charlene. Veal parmesan. Underhand, underfoot, then again underground. A failed smile. Once.
Places to Worship
Flat-on-back-on-floor or ceiling. Interminable delicatessen line. The pivot point. Spanking. While toeing the equator. Or dodging the speeding bullet. Or smoking in the alley.
Places to Perform Surgery
Bed where the stranger enters me. Poolside. "Beside myself with grief." The sno-cone stand in front of the museum.
Places to Reinvent
Planecrash. Underwhelmed by candlelight. Roadside pornshop, cornfield, or skating rink.
Places to Die
On the sidewalk. Inside the velveteen whalemouth. At the beauty salon, during a very
average haircut. Mailbox. While being interviewed, or fed peaches. Stapling. On a
ferris wheel. Meanwhile. Zimbabwe, June 1, noon sharp.
I have burnt up our story in the hot August night, Dear; scattered it along the trail like bread, so nobody can follow it home later.
It fell apart as soon as we crossed the equator. We didn't feel it for a long time.
I forgot. Then I saw it: splintered off inside my hand. Or tracking me through the day-lit house: snickering from behind the soupcans, from behind the ferns like a spy.
In girlhood I believed in words like ointments, parachutes, fresh sheets, but the truest stories multiply at sundown, feed on the city's broken syllables, garnish my alleyways with unalphabetized corpses, and disappear.
Some nights I put it on like a negligee, the way a ghost puts on a body of sheet. For a minute I am myself. Then I hide under the desk for weeks.
There is nothing uglier than the story that disintegrates along its spine, guts unraveling all over the room. Scotch tape don't make a narrative, baby.
A story unhinged: is it still a story? All the pieces are there, dysordered, masked, refantasized, dispersed like seeds. . . the bandage of white space. . . stories too deep to be ordered in rational landscape. . .
A story without a narrative; a ghost without a sheet; Iowa subtracted off my maps.
A story failed.
Read: palm of broken rivers.
1996 © 2008