Week #21 – Unseen

sand mandala by Dorothee Lang

 

Ferns by Susan Tepper

So many ferns in bright porcelain pots and woven baskets. They seem to take the air out of the room. A narrow room with double doors— what people used to call a parlor. It seems to have lost its function in modern times, aloof and lonely in this house of other rooms, where people probably watch TV and listen to music and have snacks. Or maybe even read a book sometimes. This room is like an old Grandma left behind in a house full of screaming toddlers. You’d like to sit down on the wicker settee near the windows. It seems to be calling you, a voice unseen, a body not heard from, gone, not from you, yet gone all the same since no one can see or remember. You touch the fern leaves. Lacy, fan-like; recalling how he loved you back then.

 
Masonry by J. Bradley

After the condom, my heart broke to the Smashing Pumpkins, I vowed to never let another girl ruin good music. With girlfriend #2, I shoved The Cure like a sock in her mouth so my little brother wouldn’t hear our carpet burn. After awhile, I dated girls with apartments and roommates, telling each of them their sighs were the only soundtrack I needed.

Our first song was The Darkness’s “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”; we were giddy like falsetto and power chords. Eventually the only thing that was cranked up to eleven was her mood swings. I tried explaining that a woman should not have hands as lecherous as Geppetto’s but she never listened, boxing me into the windowless van of her arms. I believed in loving all of someone, even the duct tape and chloroform.

Six years later on a couch in a strange house in Chicago, I drank beer, watched the weather, my marriage sour as Iron & Wine told me we would live like our ghosts will live. I listen to that set sometimes when clouds metastasize to build a callus in my gut note by note. Eventually, I’ll be ready for someone else to tear me down like a wall.

 
Lost Kites by Christian Bell

1
Unseen, he slides through cracks, unbound, liquid fear of mothers.

2
The camera arcs a left-right panorama but could not see below or above. Jones, the station operator, tells his visitors, here I see the world, not mentioning what’s missing.

3
She stands on the building’s roof, God’s view of an empty city. Flags rustle in wind. No cars. No people. Clouds scatter overhead, lost kites eastward to barren places. She awoke and someone had taken an eraser to the world. Except her. Why? She screams, echoless, chases the descending sun.

4
Unseen, L and N sneak into a dark alleyway, kiss. Both were married to others; infidelity, here, was criminal. There are cameras everywhere, she said, her back pressing brick wall, fingers feverish unbuttoning his shirt. Yes, that war was lost long ago, he said, his hands sliding up her legs, reaching bare hips. Here they have free space, unbound from pious spouses, as whirring cameras search for those who dare.

5
He draws shades so no one will see. He disconnects the phone, turns off the computer, destroys each television with bullets. All pictures frames go face down. The outside world, still present as he can hear airplanes flying overhead, thumping bass of passing cars. He inserts earplugs. Sun goes down and he refuses to turn on lights. At night he cries as he recalls the time his father made him sit in a dark closet as punishment. Now, unseen, he deletes future years, longs for the comfort of broken childhood.

 
Missing Pieces by Susan Gibb

So yes, I murdered my husband. Chopped him into little pieces, froze and disposed of them all but no, I didn’t eat him! What in God’s name do you think I am?

It’s taken me two years. After he’d retired he was always home. It was nerve-wracking, you know? I’d had him on a high cholesterol diet but, well, got impatient, so I finished him off with a lamp. I just got rid of the last of him this week. It was much harder than I’d thought it would be.

A few bits into the garbage each week was taking forever. I started leaving a finger or toe, a nipple (yes, I did cut off his nipples but that really wasn’t the worst) in someone else’s trash. Double-wrapped in toweling and baggies, unrecognizable and uninviting to scavengers, human or otherwise. Oh, that’s another funny thing–

I discovered that Bosco, our boxer, enjoyed these tidbits as treats! I had dropped a piece of liver and before I could pick it up he’d wolfed it right down! I started adding pieces to his dinners or as a reward, but he threw up in the yard once and the neighbor was standing right there when an obviously human ear was center stage in the mess!

Oh, no, I don’t think you’ll find enough of him left around. Really, if he hadn’t taken an early retirement, or I had been blessed with more patience…he wasn’t a bad man…

 
Isolation by Nicolette Wong

In isolation you speak into the microphone and I watch the frequency of your soul darting on a screen. You are growing fainter—even your overt British accent starts to trail off into an indistinguishable flatness.

I have forgotten: your concentration rarely translates into strength.

Your lip noise tells me you need to drink some water.

You brought a bottle of tea. In that dryness lives the memory of us choking underneath a black umbrella, unable to escape from the gloom you had perfectly carved out for us. I hear you swallow and it makes me feel pretty flat myself.

‘Ready?’ I ask.

You give an imaginary nod. When the rustle of the paper ceases you speak again. I am in the control room, flipping switches against the volume of you. Where I am now is a place of absorption and diffusion. I am padded and safeguarded.

‘Sorry I made a mistake. Can we go back to the last line?’ you ask.

‘We’re good to go when you are.’

You breathe and sniff. Someone brought you in here so you could stretch yourself and chase your dream. Your voice births a strangeness that you have just come to discover: a new seed to sprout. You and I are divided in an enclosed room, imagining each other in disrupted silence.

‘I quite liked it,’ you say when we finish the recording.

It is just work for me.

 
The Secret Life by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

When we were very young, we didn’t tell because we didn’t know any better.

Now we are six, and we don’t tell because no one has believed us since we told the story about the vampire upstairs.

Now we’re twelve, and we don’t tell because our family’s weird enough, living in an apartment instead of a house.

Now we’re sixteen, and we don’t tell because if it happens at home, why wouldn’t it happen in our boyfriend’s car?

Now we’re twenty, and we don’t tell because we’ve held too many friends’ hands in the ER. We know how the cops treat rape.

Now we’re thirty, and we don’t tell because it’s easier to write.

Now we’re forty, and we don’t tell because no one wants to hear about it anymore.

Now we’re fifty, and we don’t tell because we’d rather climb to the top of Mt. St. Helens, or what remains of it.

Now we’re sixty, and the sunset is neither russet nor gold, but the shadows of dead trees are lovely tonight.

Now we’re seventy, waiting for the stars to appear.

 
Unseen (a Five-Pointed Star with Four Streaming Lights) by Darryl Price

What you see us doing is not
all we are being. Our kissing mouths
not singing but praying. Don’t worry. We
don’t believe in a god who hates
gay people or believes in slavery or

thinks of women as cattle. We only
play to hum into the ears of
the universe a new difference, a peace
offering. One that proposes a love supreme.
What we are actually doing is dancing

with everything. To dance is to mean
what you say, to feel what you
are as it connects from body to
body throughout time, even bodies of water,
even bodies of stars, even bodies of

dreamers dreaming in infinite space, even bodies
of texts. We do this on purpose.
You must know this. Because it is
done for you but not only you.
Because it is in harmony with the

ancient trees on the arms and legs
of mother earth sending and receiving the
wisdom to care. Because it is an
act that can be carried out at
any time from any place by anyone.

It is not a religion. It is
not a joke. It is not anything
but people. I like to think of
it as poetry but that’s just me.

 
Imprints by Dorothee Lang

The first snow came early that year, overnight, in October. The roads were closed for two days, electricity gone.

The houses, the gardens, the people, they all were hibernating in white, underneath thick blankets. The only sign that someone had roamed the night: paw prints, leading to doors, circling the houses, yet leaving no other trace –
no message, no hint – then returning to the wilderness.

Does, the kids guessed, or forest fairies, curious for our life.

The old women shook their heads.

They knew more. But they wouldn’t tell, not that day, and not later, when the snow was gone again, and all were still alive.

 

Back to Wk #20 – Rivals

Forward to Wk #22 – The brutality of friends


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