Crow and Shine


Maybe the next state, If I ever escape Vermont, things will go back to the way they used to be. Maybe in South Carolina or Hawaii--or some place where the dead things come back without dilations, without resilience, without kicking or screaming--I will be able to don those old phonetics and give my name to starbucks employees and deli counter men without some shift in the air. Maybe the next summer my skin will stay dark and maybe I will not be white passing. Maybe I’ll be identifiable by Uber drivers and accurately interpreted by passersby. 

Maybe in the next state, I will pull myself out from under the carpet and dust him off.

Teo’s Olimar amiibo sits on my dash and fumbles around when I turn too quickly, or when the car shakes. We are together travelers of a foreign and malicious planet, and he reminds me what I’ve left behind. Of how long it would take to return, marching silent through an unknown world. The car, my mule, is dirty; and, through mud, snow, and flooding, takes on the form of what it is used for. Which is mostly--strictly speaking--just a car. Let’s refuse the semantics and remind ourselves of what is what. 

(Ada Limón, The Great Blue Heron of Dunbar Road)

That we might walk out into the woods together,
and afterwards make toast
in our sock feet, still damp from the fern’s
wet grasp, the spiky needles stuck to our
legs, that’s all I wanted, the dog in the mix,
jam sometimes, but not always. But somehow,
I’ve stopped praising you. How the valley
when you first see it—the small roads back
to your youth—is so painfully pretty at first,
then, after a month of black coffee, it’s just
another place your bullish brain exists, bothered
by itself and how hurtful human life can be.
Isn’t that how it is? You wake up some days
full of crow and shine, and then someone
has put engine coolant in the medicine
on another continent and not even crying
helps cure the idea of purposeful poison.
What kind of woman am I? What kind of man?
I’m thinking of the way my stepdad got sober,
how he never told us, just stopped drinking
and sat for a long time in the low folding chair
on the Bermuda grass reading and sometimes
soaking up the sun like he was the story’s only
subject. When he drove me to school, we decided
it would be a good day, if we saw the blue heron
in the algae-covered pond next to the road,
so that if we didn’t see it, I’d be upset. Then,
he began to lie. To tell me he’d seen it when
he hadn’t, or to suppose that it had just
taken off when we rounded the corner in
the gray car that somehow still ran, and I
would lie, too, for him. I’d say I saw it.
Heard the whoosh of wings over us.
That’s the real truth. What we told each other
to help us through the day: the great blue heron
was there, even when the pond dried up,
or froze over; it was there because it had to be.
Just now, I felt like I wanted to be alone
for a long time, in a folding chair on the lawn
with all my private agonies, but then I saw you
and the way you’re hunching over your work
like a puzzle, and I think even if I fail at everything,
I still want to point out the heron like I was taught,
still want to slow the car down to see the thing
that makes it all better, the invisible gift,
what we see when we stare long enough into nothing.

Written word I equipped then as a weapon rather than a gift. For protection; to deriddle things that have happened to me, to do things to others. I’ll let that lay dying as I wish my language could be some sort of offering to the people I love and care about. And as eulogy for those who have once loved me or cared for me. To limn their wall decorations, their passions and rotting fruit compiled upon their kitchen counters, that fine and subtle beautiful obsoleteness of things they are too preoccupied to notice themselves. All I can hope for now, all I can do is remain true to myself if not to others. 

I hope this does not clear things up. 

I hope this letter finds you walking alone, obscured, in a rainy yet comforting city where no one you love lives, nor has ever lived. The parking meter you kissed a few hours ago has not expired since nothing in New Hampshire ever really expires. It just pretends to hold you in a sincere, seemingly endless embrace (DO NOT SAY ANYTHING). If not there, then an American city no one in your family has ever heard of, or will most likely never travel through: that you make it out of that place with your dead things and everyone will welcome you home like you never smelled of cigarette smoke and questionable substances which texture the air these non-foliage filled countries. 

A shed in northern Québec is labeled “Bibliothéque / Library” It is filled with anywhere to six to eight caribou carcasses. Mami the sheep stomps around her second baby lamb this spring when we enter her manger. I laugh. Emails sit in my primary inbox attached to invoices I put off paying for another week. It is not a large sum of money, but my wallet is in my car and my lack of communication has made the sum higher than it need be. I stop worrying about my the effect this may have on my reputation and begin thinking about what I have lined up for the evening. I think of what my mom would say. 

I think about what the people I have once loved might say. I guess even unreciprocated things have the lasting effect I wished for. Fewer things seem entertaining to me and even less things seem as necessary. This should not be taken as a sign of depression, when you regard the level at which I have tended to care about things.

This at large should not be taken as a signifier for wanting things I used to have back. But I’m not sure if I could explain what else, if anything, for which it should be taken as a signifier. Maybe just that names of people I type into my search bar auto-fill and only take the click of two buttons to redirect me to search results I would like to erase from my history.

How does one construe an affinity for compulsivity as a marketable talent? Probably not with difficulty. “but then I saw you and the way you’re hunching over your work like a puzzle, and I think even if I fail at everything...”

I think even if I fail at everything at least I am not who I used to be. I think even if I’ve given everything that was once mine away, at least now I am my best self, that I am thriving. That I am granted attention, companionship, and privilege I had not formerly been allowed. I think even if it took some killing, I am right in the head. Even if it’s millions of fishes who are not moving anymore I can always go back and lay next to their motionless pond. I can put my hands deep into it until my arms are wet and my heart has returned from coal to mush. And pretend I recognize myself when looking in the water. If it all turns to dust in Vermont then I’ll once again grant myself a new name and get past it.