for Mr. Beefy
This way now same as last way then, the head bent filled with all those phrases been, unsure if aloud I have just said them, slipped past out into the light looking not as they were conjured in the shadows, falsely recalled, a murmur I’d intended to revive as I go, but failed to summon. Either way, strayed, I shall wander with them, the words, broken, from distances near but not quite, I separately absent. Midday again. The chores for the day done, I won’t list them, now tomorrow undone, I walk in such regard, a torn-about pace, the night risen, then of course the sun, so many times neither to me, so it be, the needless scenery. I elapse what I’ve said, the whim keeps me moving, as I come toward, approach, now gone away from a glimpse, the phrases etch faint inscriptions, remembered all wrong, the error echoes. This way the phrase patterned, the route never plotted, the words imperfectly hung, tacked disorderedly to my head, even in a place as crowded as this, unraveling, an image pixilates, I see as I keep going on, passing by me, blurs, windows, balustrades, pastel curtains quaking in their frames. I saw a shutter thrown open, the veranda I waited my sight on during winters, for when the ivy will overtake it, pastel curtains hemming and hawing away from their frames, the outlines behind them evading shape. The phrases turn, ever so slightly, but on the image I’m lingered, I’ve missed them entirely, the words, shards, or pursued from too far off, a new image forms, now something of the world creeps in I hear her say from the edge of the balcony, in Andes, raised on a slope by pillars of cypress, there has to be something of the world that persists. The words travel past me as I lose her from the bottom of the hill, to the sun, I try to follow them, the words, riven, before they blend into the oblivion. In Andes we believed it was the nearby spring from which the sound of falling water ranged, but it was only the breeze, the remnant of rain, the long approach of cars from the highway, we could not see from the cabin, the property, past the canopy of trees. Around the corner on Nevins, a pigeon has landed at the feet of an elderly man seated on a bench, the far end, the far kind, his hands resting on top each knee, legs spread apart evenly, his posture not that of leisure, he has only the pigeon to distract him, it doesn’t, it is as if the pigeon has mistaken this man for a stone, a cast figure reproaches me in his stillness, the pigeon trespasses the man’s feet a little more, with shame I resume to the lilt of my steps, run my fingertips against a chain-link fence. I am walking atop the Net, a network of concrete honeycombs, it seems a reticulum, one foot after the other, stride the flaws of its design, the empty space between points, the man’s head tilts in my direction, I do not meet his eyes as I walk by, at pebbles the pigeon pecks, holds a piece of gravel in its beak, staring as so often I have done, alert but blankly, I pare rust from the fencing as my heels quicken, soon to be out of sight. In Andes we took rock paths to hidden cusps neither of us knew the location of, I couldn’t hear her over the sound of our footfalls, the words, in disrepair, she again elevated above me, I heard a drum beating somewhere in the forest, it kept my legs nomadic, I do not know where we are going. North of the canal bridge Nevins begins to incline, and when I see her on the mezzanine it means I am leaving, I am going somewhere her goodbye will soon get to where some of I go. I hear her say see you soon and I know, I know the sadness caught in her voice, I know something of the world slips out, as the phrase lessens to faint of breath erelong faded, but the words will soon to be rekindled, altogether delivered, threadbare, soon you see. Lifted was the balustrade in Andes, lifted is she in my memory, how she stood there against the sky, the sky pausing for her hands, resting forgottenly on the railing, content to hang in the foreground, to have no purpose whatsoever, wearing the wilderness around her, memories I keep awake so I might sleep ceaselessly, standing at the bottom of the hill. She is Eve in Andes, there is creation in her stare, a process of tides and waves that formulate from the glare, I would know by now the terrain, the stars, the ways of where I have got here, but something about the encounter, the arrival, remains unfamiliar, ensuingly to be she becomes, and then there I avoiding with seamless motion the fissures in the pavement. Another phrase reaches me, it is the image reminisced, the walks have at least taught me patience, they teach me that I have worn out life this way, kept alive the image soon to die, as the phrase again changes ever so slightly, up the hill the cypress columns leave splinters when I brace myself to them, looking above from underneath the floorboards of the balcony, where the shadows shape her body according to the light that defines her narrowly to me through their crevices. I go left so as to go further away from here, from home, this way less inhabited, though it is the way the sun finds it must move, but still I make the time to dwindle, to wear grooves in the pavement, to roll up another smoke, caught by surprise to see this is where the canal ends, when I had thought it extensive. Soon you see that way then repeating. She is working late, I forget how she makes a living, but I see her during the evenings, she sees me climbing up the heap, in Andes, the grass stung my calves and shins, the blades gave me rashes she would later tend, have to medicate, dress with rags drenched in balm, it burns, when we are inside, for the night, not going outside again until the following morning, until the sun crawls up the sheets, spills through the shades we kept open to be wakened. Poor sweetie, she says, since when did your skin become so sensitive? I was surprised to see the fire pit still going the next day, surprised this way I couldn’t keep going, on Nevins, a yard heavily guarded with fences, the many patterns of wire, and growth one does not see too often in this city, I repay my gratitude, for my requital, with anonymity, I cross the street three-fourths of a square, head back a way to where some of I go, kick a stone, kick it repeatedly, it strays, I don’t go after it, I regain a usual rhythm, where is familiar, until another left be made. Unless I want to chance the man who scorns me, seated on a bench, which might be near the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, that I will happen upon another time, not now, not this way, but then I didn’t know I’d discover its edifice, its proximity to the man I might again walk past, with head bent, learn but then a building not meant or not quite intended to be occupied by the like of elder men, who in that late stage of life ask nothing but to be left in peace, in armistice, a club with too large a crowd, with youth and blending smells from food trucks, as the noise then brought me out of the pattern, the phrase, the image they conflate, they cement, and now I cannot decide on a destination, on home or on ridicule, on being noticed. I turn left, I guess, north on the busy avenue, a two-lane highway splitting in two directions, nonetheless still less populated with fellow flâneurs, the same idlers as me I avoid carefully. I am arrived at a gas station, I realize I am thirsty from walking so far as I’ve come, I am usually thirsty from the long pilgrimages to nowhere in particular, nowhere certain, of course having burned my last paper to ash, and low on shag, on corks and stems, so struck by thirst I confront other men soon to fear. In Andes, at the gas station on route twenty-eight, the only one for miles, cigarette paper costs ninety-nine cents, but the tobacco was for pipe smoking, Eve got me the kind I prefer at some other gas station, some other miles away, on a different day I spent with her in the mountains, so she could marvel at the vistas, her footfalls like a drum I tried to syncopate with mine but couldn’t find, the rhythm, she wanted to lead the way, I let her always lead, it was easier to follow, to know only the parts of her I wanted to know, then the parts became all of her, the calm she displays on the balcony, as she creates visions to stalk me, the phrases became deafening, but she herself remained quiet, enclosed in the silence still that surrounded her, the sky pausing for her, hair swaying there, the wind reaching that height, I saw the way Eve’s back arched, one hand restraining ever so slightly her billowing gown, reflected in the window behind her, where she stood when I came back from the reservoir, empty handed as usual, with nothing to cook for us, up the hill to find, when looked up from the grass, in my line of sight, me mirrored back separately absent. I maneuver on the tips of my toes so as to not disturb the gentle tone of the gas station convenience store I have walked into, nearly out of routine, toward the drink aisle, past two men who conceal beer in brown paper bags, the paper soaked through, the bottoms of their cans obvious as to their contents, halting their conversation for me, I take a bottle of soda water from a rack of other bottles, get on line to pay, the man in front of me plays the numbers, calls them out to the clerk behind the counter, as if he knows them well, as if they’ve let him down before, dashed his hopes until there were none no longer, only the liturgy of numerals has lasted, the man has to live, I credit him for that, has to give and has to take and in this exchange be nonetheless impoverished for it. The date his father died, his perished mother’s birthday, he says soon you see, the anniversary of his marriage, the date he divorced, the address of his childhood home, Aries for him, Taurus for his beloved, their signs will bring me fortune, we, the men and I, together in the convenience store of the gas station, share in common how famished we’ve become, the beads of sweat that the fluorescent lights, our reluctance to be known to each other, bring out over our bodies, beads of sweat over our lips, across our foreheads, as I put down the bottle of soda water on the counter, count my money, no shag that I prefer, beads of condensation leave a crescent on the counter, perhaps no point in purchasing cigarette papers now, still there is that which is always seemed to deny me, separates me in the world, me in the body, divided into unequal parts, two points of a scale, my soul-side weighs heaviest, in my toil to delay the world, to let the image last, just a little longer. This way now I am less careful toward the direction of home, I suppose it is home to where some of I go, I have before been on this road, soon you see, ahead past that abutment Nevins and Baltic will meet, at the archery building, as I wonder if I will walk through the streets of the casket factory. She is Artemis in Andes, we try to locate her in the sky, but I could not pattern the symmetry, the fire I had built begins to die, we descended the mountain before night arrived, pointing out the landmarks she had memorized on the way up to the top, the quarry, the sound of falling water to the east, lost to me when I had been lost the whole time, when we first scaled the mountainside, she uses her hands as a gesture of farewell, she is the huntress in Andes, I hunt her in my head, bent, I can’t see it but the canal cascades somewhere in the distance, it soothes me minorly, as I slip out from rows of residential housing, I won’t describe the miasma, the putrid smell rising from the canal that lingers, we were alone in the woods when the chores were waiting, I hurry past people on the sidewalk, careful not to disturb the pace that seizes me toward home, when will Artemis return, when I myself returned empty handed, the day spent at the reservoir staring into wakes, when in the sky that night we would only find Orion, as I attempted to follow against a current of lingering, enduring light the constellations, the indistinct sequins of her gown, to the soft spots of her skin, reddened under the midday sun. See you soon she says, sets out to succeed in doing what I hadn’t done for us, to fetch something to eat, it is I who is left here resumed sweating, though less thirsty, at the traffic signal, waiting to cross the busying intersection, the trouble is I return to her, to the image, to the balustrade, too late at a standstill, in Andes to eat became an all-day affair, the walks undertook traversing on foot, seldom beyond Nevins, but in the periphery a conjectural effort, the result of which only kept us hungry, only kept us starving, distracted, the phrase I won’t discover again intact that way. She finds, later, me with bruised fruit I’d gathered around the perimeter of the property bundled in a pouch I fashioned with the lower portion of my shirt, Artemis almost unrecognizable, covered in mud, but not quite, displaying the remains of a stag she had found foraging around the outskirts of the property, we met close to the quay, not anticipating I’d find her dragging by the ankles a carcass, in the growing expanse of darkness, at the bottom of the hill, she seldom ventured from the balcony, I had often to find my way back without her calves to follow, only the image beckoning me toward directions, distances frequented but not entirely familiar, there has to be something of the world that persists, there’s the sky giving off its first trace of night, there’s the rubbish leaving relic to the residue of disrepair, there’s the fence like any other guarding just a glance of access to the ruins, there’s the mass of people whom I must startle with my gait, whom I may somehow amuse or arouse pity by my way of going places, there’s more to where some of I go, but for now I’ll spare, and cease.