Girlby E. Hampton
There’s nothing about her curls that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the world—I’ve watched streams and been caught in them. The way steam leaves a source of heat is one of the many ways to leave that I’m familiar with. People talk about life’s mysteries, but I’ve seen clouds from above, and descending through them, I’ve looked up. Yesterday, I found one of her gloves—wind came and filled it in. With wind I put my fingers in—gloved, my touch resembled her touch in that it no longer felt like anything. Numbness doesn’t bother me—silence at my nerve endings connects to wider silences, and I move through these as I do through memories of feelings, heedless of whether I still have legs. A river is known to grow opposite its flow, its water extending from stone—I go in and out of the dark, one of dark’s many mouthed and hairy parts searching for its other parts. I find an auditorium just before music starts—I know the just-before part intimately since it’s come to be the closest I can get to release. I follow tracks in snow to a burrow—in the dark opening I see the hollow inside her sleeve as she’d reach for me, for some other part of me, a part I now can’t see. Maybe at the beach I’ll see a wave curling it toward me, and if I swim out a ways, maybe looking back I’ll see the backside of its shape, and there she’ll be, looking the way she used to look when she used to sleep next to me. Asleep on the train her body would sway—drowning must be the way she dreams, I’d think, or from dreams, drowning the way she wakes. But she could find me even in her sleep, and in my sleep I’d begin to have legs, and I’d dream them, and soon the space between them would come into my dream—sometimes a blocked road suddenly opens, and turning down it I find it isn’t a road but an omen. Her hand moving up my legs, finding the place where legs become a single leg. Once we were there, where the light was beaconing. I stood still on the stairs while she ran ahead of me—I wanted to see her spiraling up and away as if she were the still one and I was sinking in one of her drowning dreams. I had always thought I’d make a noise, some sound of me I’d later find surrounding me. Or I’d hear it coming from some boy while he pounded me, pushing his body toward whatever he found in me. But what came instead was rain. Though this event might be the one by which I eventually explain why she left, I find only silences when I try to explain. The most I can do is show you those, and maybe, by way of the contours of things, you’ll be able to see how it was. It was messy, our food stuck to the rug. Each new thing that stuck became an obstacle to what at the time it was still fine to call love. I would have soon said fuck had she not left before then. I had a rash that hung open when I was on top—I used it on her the way she used her underthings on me to get her off. I’m not sure what it was I was getting her off of—off of me, sometimes off herself, but also off of something other than us, some star far from those claimed by constellations I can name. Her light absorbing and re-emitting mine—I don’t want it to turn out that way with her, I was by myself entirely. In her I don’t want to find my mind, my way of worrying about time. For instance, I worry that the passing of it leaves only memories, and that in mine, I will be all I can find. At least now when I look I still find more than me—the time I watched her running away from me and felt I’d lost my mind, but had lost it so gradually that, now that I knew it was gone, I had no idea where to look for it, and if I looked, what I’d find. I look for the parts set back from the other parts, as if a doorway might show me what I’m trying to say besides that it’s shadowy, or a window might give way to another way, one that precludes all this trying to explain. I said I can name, but I can’t name any of it—star, or gathering of stars—the little twinkle children sing. Children who name even invisibilities would soon have some name for me, or at least some way of telling me apart from other nameless things. I watch a woman being handed a bag for which she pays, and there’s something about the bag, maybe that it’s opaque, that seems much better an answer than anything I can say. In waste the answer repeats itself—I see the same bag caught in a tree, wind filling and emptying its shape, and my argument—not one I make, because it seems already made for me—is complete. So, since the argument has been completed for me—by what, the economy?—I don’t have to say that she worked at night and so did I, and we would meet on the morning train, and I’d watch her sleep and sway until the morning I saw her on the other train going the other way. Maybe I was still sinking and she was reminding me. All this superfluity—I could begin again, go around the other way, and in so going find those ideas about reversibility that fail when applied to time. I wonder, if I could no longer see the openings to places she might be, whether she would come to seem less real to me, being sealed away? Or would the sealing become a dumb spirituality, something I couldn’t say so decided to venerate. Maybe better not to say, but in not saying, not to praise. I put my hand in her one glove and don’t look for the other one, letting my other hand go numb. I’ve heard numb’s a way of making yourself come—the difficulty is to sustain the numb to some end, or at least release from wanting one. It’s possible, she said, to kill a thing so slowly that in death, its life continues unchanged. And so I am thinking about what I did yesterday and what I’ll do again today.
EVELYN HAMPTON lives in Providence. We Were Eternal and Gigantic, a short book of stories and poems, was published in April 2010 by Magic Helicopter Press. Her website is Lispservice.com.