“How do we know the difference in a picture between sunrise and sunset?”
How do we believe that California is still golden and New England is still sweet?
“Look at the leaves”, she said.
Are they transparent like your skin or throbbing and aching with the last rites?
“And what about the birds?”she asked.
“The birds don’t sing in you. Your eyes are not wings. Don’t.” Silence. She put her fingers to her chin, couldn’t stop it.
“Your eyes will not take you there. Your lashes are too short.”
She snorted a recognition and bent her short lashes. Waited.
“Learn to swim first. That’s my advice.”
Arms still at her sides she could only twitch her shoulder a little, in fear. She hated cold water.
Goddamit this one could swim and pull herself out and still not be wet.
She controlled her wish to pound the desk in jealous rage. More frustration.
Ahem, let me cover my lips with my hands and tell you that you should swim a long long time, that I pray the weeds don’t catch your feet and little fish don’t nibble at your toes in jest or in hunger.
Out loud at last she said, “Ask yourself if the leaves are rising or falling, then you’ll know.”
Go down with the ship and drown a little, then you’ll understand. Too uncharitable.
“Learn to swim child, by god I don’t know how else you go forward.”
She nudged her insolent chin to the left. She knew this woman didn’t have the answer. Nobody did, the answers weren’t written anymore. Clocks no longer ticked and everybody had reams of black lines in their heads but nobody knew the answers. Fuck you. “I’d rather drown in black eyeliner and chemical soup.”
“No you wouldn’t.”
“Now you’re swimming.”