WITHOUT A MAP
My mother during one of her frequent fits flushed my goldfish down the toilet while I was at school. This was long before children had only water from toilets to drink. I’d won the goldfish at a carnival by somehow tossing a ping-pong ball into the fish’s bowl. But awful sights were creeping up on me even then. I have memories of little ballerinas in disintegrating tulle tutus and dance slippers made of bubble wrap and tape. And because I was in the country I was in, there were dim streetlamps at dusk, there were burnt holes for eyes.
That country no longer exists. If you ever go searching for it – in books or on old maps – you’ll find only a confusion of names. Yesterday I was walking and walking and walking and writing poetry in my head, and when I looked up, I realized I had no idea where I was. You don’t believe something like that is ever going to happen to you. And then it does. The world is just so huge none of us is a hundred percent safe. “Is that vehicle following me?” I often find myself wondering. “Are those cameras on that turret trained on me?” Somehow the false expresses what might be real. A man thinks he shot a deer when he actually shot his brother.
This is the country you heard rumors about, where the sky acquires the greenish sheen of sickness and birds are forced by the tainted air to fly close to the ground, where memory lasts just a very short time, where school hallways overflow with blood and the cops have a penchant for suicide, where deranged angels hoot all night in the tree outside your window, where thought is folly and endings go spectacularly wrong, where love, invisible until now but always there, spreads like a spider crack across the heart.