Thursday, March 1, 2012

Epistle. To: Grace Nelson

The Band was singing I Shall Be Released as the movie soundtrack ends, and I said to the nurse that's a great song but it always gives me the loneliness business whenever I hear it.
 Big sheets of rain snapped against the windows for the third day counting. The local baseball team cancelled a double header. And this was supposed to be a make-up game for the game that was cancelled earlier in the season due to heavy rains. I said to the nurse I want to sing along to that song each time I hear it but at the same time feel haunted by mouthing the words. Afterwards the song stays with me for days. Like I  hear that song and then get chills. And that's like having hope I said.
That's nonsense the nurse said. You don't sing well enough.
Maybe so I said but we do get caught in the middle. The nurse asked what should we watch now? The late news and catch up with that cute anchor and see how she continues to look silly and out of place and not in the studio and out in the weather in her perfectly creased yellow slicker? Or look she said surfing the remote like some goddess of the waves. An evangelical cooking show and that prefect recipe for fried dough on a stick!  Or what about this commercial bullet to the head? The nurse did a pretty cool obnoxious voice-over. She even morphed her face around to almost resemble this grinning weasel-like guy trying to sell us these spray cans of some rubberized shit.  Don't call a handyman! That will cost you thousands!
Maybe another movie instead you asked? Sure the nurse said, with a look on her face that was like a garden fading in the sweet last days of August, all spent and therefore beautiful in all its details for simply having done it. Sometimes I have no idea where I am. Maybe she said you're just watching yourself and that feels like it's somewhere else instead. Yea I suppose, but we do need to show up. That would be a necessity the nurse added. So what do you think: king fu car chase with an electric Hong Kong or a coming of age loser gets laid comedy? Sex violence irreverence - that's what we have in the stacks. All that sounds good I said. But I worry about being dead. You can't do anything about that the nurse said. You were dead. And there's a flat line screen on record to prove it. Just a narrow green line with no vocals behind it. What was silence like she asked? It was really busy I said. It was like going to the dump on a crowded Saturday and waiting in line and getting rid of this old piece of sheetrock that I had in the basement forever. It was way too small to save and maybe way too valuable to throw away. And that was silence she asked?
No. But it was more than you might expect. I had this dream -
When the nurse asked? When you were dead?
No I said, the other night. I was riding in a truck with Natalie Portman the actress. I recognized her but I didn't say anything. Like you might say hey I know you when you really don't. She was driving and the weather was warm. I touched her arm, her skin, because the weather was warm. She smiled behind a big pair of sunglasses and drove on wearing this killer t-shirt that only had me wanting to touch her arm more so for the looking. Outside the truck windows a river flowed past. On the river, or in it, all these household items flew past along a  strong muddy current. Desks chairs tables lamps. Going by in multitudes like a housing development upstream had been washed away. People came down by the river to watch and talk quietly. When I looked back from the river I was no longer in a truck driving with Natalie Portman and her killer t-shirt. I was standing inside a house and looking outside from behind an old window frame with these ratty curtains. Farmhouse curtains like from that movie. Days of Heaven.
Did you try and get her autograph or something the nurse asked?
No nothing like that. But it felt cool riding in the truck like that.
Maybe you have a punch list you need to go through.
Before what?
All these dreams she said. What do you think?
Well I said sometimes you try and account for your life and so what do you come up with? Comments about the weather? Or money?
I don't know she said. The porch deck you painted before you died looks good.
Yea thanks. But I had this other dream the other night...
You do have a stiff learning curve the nurse offered...
Yea... But I was standing with an unidentified woman and together we were placing the days on a sort of graph that was either on a chart on a wall or either the wall itself was a holograph. Whether the days were charted for ourselves or others was unclear. She had long red hair worn everywhere around her like a signal flare and wore a plaid shirt like she was a camper or something. Her fingers moved quickly across the graph placing a Tuesday over there or say a Thursday down in a corner. I seem to be her helper, handing her the odd Friday for instance. Fortunes might happen. Tragedy might happen. That's what I make out of it.
If we're watching another movie the nurse said then I'm reheating the tacos.
I wouldn't know where it all went I said to her through doorways and into the kitchen.
It's okay there's plenty left she said.
Another dream I had: I'm feeding chunks of wood into a stove that only has two sides. I'm worried someone has taken my vial of pills. I can look through the wood stove and see tree lines and fields. Maybe someone has eaten all the pills? Or maybe they just stole them? There are people in the yard but I don't know them. Maybe it's a party. I look through a serving tray filled with containers of pills. But none are mine. I worry. I keep looking. That keeps me going on.
Red or green sauce I heard her say. And then I thought about late night tacos... with the nurse serving them up... her hands like an artisan... her breath like a measured count that when you felt it against you it seemed to wind sweetly around some undefined still point between the hemispheres of the brain... and I liked all that... big time so to speak... but it's always scary... when you like something... because something else has to give... I wanted green sauce so I said that.
We're having tea the nurse said. And chocolate chips. Since you didn't make cookies yesterday...
I keep looking for something I said but don't know where to find it. Like the other night a woman sat down next to me. And then another woman sat down next to her. And they both began making suggestions into one another's ear. I seem to be missing something, like the proverbial boat -
Did you say you want onions?
- yea onions are great. And shred up more lettuce if you will. But suddenly both those women were gone. And I was walking down a crowded street with too many corners and they all lead nowhere in particular. And then suddenly again I was back in a hospital room. Watching a ball game to kill time. Some was calling me on the telephone but I could not get the in house connection to work so the phone rang and rang and rang... and rang... and then the ball game shifted and outside below the fifth floor, in the parking lot, there were all these kids turning the asphalt into a yard, and they were excavating the dirt with small versions of heavy equipment and it was like they were digging some foundation for a new building with toys.
Do you want more cheese or less?
And I don't remember the forecast calling for a thunderstorm today. And so in that sleepy semi-alert way between the worlds my eyes were surprised open. Where was I? I was answering questions to Japanese tourists about plants in a garden. Apparently this was a specialty that I had, although I had a deep seated feeling while speaking to them that I knew nothing at all. I was carving a piece of wood and the wood crumbled away like it was rotten. I cooked a piece of meat only the have the thing in the pan boil away until it was bright red. There was a rented room with too much furniture so a friend called management. At the parade a little girl made a seat for me from out of old tires and placed them near the street so I might watch better. Now she said. And walked away. A woman with fashionably short hair buttoned a tan blouse and in the process pulled off the top button before it got to her chin and handed it too me. Some guy in a Red Sox t-shirt said come on man you gotta check my math in the box scores.
I'm gonna open up a new jar of peppers. Okay?


Lonesome Suzy said...

Hey. Ain't it so mortifyingly simplistic to understand and get caught way up, and I do mean way up, in a pattern? Sure we all destroy the world by producing images. And hey, sometimes you get in the way. Just like when it comes back at you, time gets in the way.

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