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   Listen to AIR
   read by Bruce Renner

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A I R  (a novel)

Chapter 1

Snow can be a serious measurement of love. I'm of a certain age but the music is new, which means it has a shine almost a smear to it at the same time: a shape, color, and feel to it all its own. The same color the snow has. Each flake, now, as it falls, so clean and white and smudged it actually appears to let more light in, through more angles and particles at the same time, so that I pick it up, finally, the slightly odd-looking one, with absolutely no intention of regretting how things might turn out, so that at precisely that moment it is as though it had picked me. I can feel my tongue, now, beginning to crest around it so purposefully, so uproariously, I wonder why I so seldom eat snowflakes anymore, I have so clearly expressed my own passion and desire for them, they seem all afire in this light, falling so effortlessly, like this, throughout the night, just so, in the nick of time: Did I say I love you? But I'm gettlng ahead of myself. I was even asked to take sides recently, when I had absolutely no intention of taking sides, a perfectly normal reaction for me. I've had my share of some memorable successes and failures, but I'm pretty much like you, with one or two possible exceptions, also just like you. If my story wears a little thin, in places, I will try to make amends: always glad for the experience, and just as glad to leave it behind. I try to avoid all of those awkward reminders when it's time to go. I live apart a lot, in order to be elsewhere. In other words, in order to be able to do a number of different things at the same time. There are things, when you turn your back on them, which can threaten to reduce you to nothing. In the end, these are never really hard choices. I crave mostly the nearly exact, in its most physical environment. Failing this it is sometimes necessary to make up different parts. When I was very young, very, very young I knew I could not survive tomorrow alone, and that feeling has never left me. Let me give you an example: always, when my neigh- bor returns home, his dog comes over to pay his respects to my dog, which is nice except for the fact that my dog has taken to running off, now, longer and longer distances with my neighbor's dog. Yet, when you watch them play, with such ardor and quickness, you know. Nothing stays the same. And, of course, there is al- ways an element of danger to their play. That's part of it. They are after all, dogs. This is part of our respect for them. Also, I think, for ourselves. Because we are dangerous, too. Of course, there are numerous other things to consider as well. Although we shouldn't be afraid of them, but that's little com- fort. They are always the first to let bygones be bygones, and why not? What have they got to lose that we haven't. Just like I have my intentions, my dreams and memories, begging me to do the right thing. I try my best. But sometimes that's simply not good enough. So I have to try again. And none of this has anything to do with remorse, or anything of the kind. How could it? I would have to stay up all night, like now, and watch its wanton backside turn it- self inside out in the light. I don't have time for this. I'm not the cure. It's cold, and even now the tomatoes are slumping, and beginning to wink off. But unlike us the weather never seems to reach any low point, it just changes, it turns into something else. So that, once outside, so many things are true that it's hard to imagine them all. But that's the ticket, nevertheless, every time. It can even get to be habit forming. You make all your little choices, then let them go, like birds. And, still, they always come back. The difference between now and then is the hardest of all, but you can get pretty good at that too. Mostly, it depends on how long you've been gone, and where you have been, and where you are going. Not that I have the faintest idea. I'm simply standing here, just as I am, attempting to tell you a story, my story, for what- ever it's worth. All my life I've been unsorting it all, then mixing it up, and so on. This seems to be, for whatever reason, the way it's gone, and the way it continues to go. Of course, writing all of this down here makes you just as much an agent in this as I am. This is a bond between us whether or not you are happy or ungrateful about the whole thing. I can't control that, or only a little; the rest is up to you. Mostly I'm willing to put every- thing on the table here, spread it all out the best I can, and let you lap it up, which is the real difference between being the host and being the guest. I'm not a detective, but I'd be willing to guess that in most circumstances you'd do pretty much the same. That's what it means to be joined at the hip, and we're nothing if not that. Otherwise it's time for one of us to seek out the more or less hermetically sealed, but I don't think either of us is ready for that. So I hope this gesture, whether airborne or scrawled in the snow, suffices. I'd be willing to bet on it, but I can't expect you to take my word for this--not now, not ever. So this will have to do. And why hesitate, yourself? We're almost friends here, or starting to be. The rest, as they say, is history. It's all the same, the history of this moment, with its tale to tell, and the history of all the rest, as well. If I had it all to do over agaln I'd be standing here anyway, but I'd be wearing a plaid shirt (the kind I never wear) and, perhaps even, a tie. They'd both be bold, garish almost, and I'd step up to you softly, so as not to frighten you, and whisper in your ear: Why not? And your reply would not be far behind. I can't give away any more, here, you'll just have to trust me on this. Seriously, I'm not kidding. If you had the chance you'd do the same. But I think it's time to clear the air, change direction, and put a little distance between us. For the moment, I have no in- tention of telling you where I am going. You're free to do the same. This is what is meant by intentionality. We both get what we want. But with having taken the other into consideration. And, yes, in some finely tuned way having nothing to do with any of this, you're not here, despite my best efforts. But even this can be useful, and extremely freeing, for both of us. It's like coming up for air, except there's no water, and sometimes it still feels like we've never met. Outside, the snow continues to fall. I keep getting ahead of myself, that's always been a problem. Unless, of course, it goes the other way around, which can be just as deadly, or exciting, depending upon your point-of-view. But you know all this. I'm only here to remind you, and I hope that's ok, because I for one want you to be happy, as I want to be happy, or as happy as possible-- regardless of the extremes that always lead us to want to feel that way in the first place. Yet, who doesn't want to be happy? It's just that there are so many other ways to feel, many of them just as good, just as exciting, they can leave us feeling speechless. And for good reason. Afterwards, we often can't seem to remember any of them for very long, yet despite this fact they seem to keep us in suspense anyway. It's part of their charm, and part of ours. We seem to like it this way. Still, what curves out ahead of us, can leave us feeling more than a little blue. But it's up to us to take care of it. And ourselves. The path I followed this mornlng on that long walk deep in the woods drifted away at every point I attempted to touch it. It was almost as if it wasn't there. And yet I knew it was. So why this double feeling? Especially when we are feeling the most alive. There are so many reasons, some of which we'll never like but which will be dead on nevertheless, and like nothing we have seen before. Sometimes they are egregious, almost sulfuric, sometimes they are mostly exciting. And, sometimes, they are like this smoke, just now, curling off my roof, and swirling over the snow across the fields and up a quarter of a mile then out of the valley, gray ghosts, lisping and careening softly throughout the whole of it. Alone with this smoke, it feels a little like me, but I can't get near it. That's something I wanted to leave with you, anyway. I hope you like it, and will think of me, sometimes, out in the wind like this. I know, it sounds pretty maudlin. Even to me, frankly. It's like when you say you want to be there for someone; but how long will it be, and will you still be there tomorrow? I don't know you well enough to say, and I'm not sure I would anyway. I'm not the prime suspect. I'm not even the prime catch. You'd have to drive all the way to the city for either one, which I don't think you need in the first place. I think this will do. Yes, I think this will do very nicely. Someone thought there had been a killing, or said there had been a killing, I wasn't sure which. It had happened in the country, something I always think I know something about in the first place. After all, I live here. If that turns out to be something of a mistake to admit here, then there, I've admitted it. It will have to open of its own accord from its own side. For the rest, I intend to do my part accordingly. I know, at the moment, all of this appears to have very little to do with you. You think, in fact, it's almost tiny. But I refuse to leave it at that. So, here we are, and who is going to give in first? It's not going to be me, though I've said that often enough before--maybe it will be you instead. I've thought about this, although it's still snowing and it's still cold, and, yes, I was tempted. But I've never killed anyone, before. I can't imagine doing that, unless I had to, and even then I think it would take a lot. I'd have to be in just the right mood, or per- haps you would have to be, or else I'd have to be really pissed off. It would have to be something like this. It can't be easy to klll someone, but certainly it's possible. Obviously, in some situations even desirable, but nothing to count on nonetheless. You might be at a real disadvantage. So might I. Still, the whole point would be to pull it all off, especially if your own life was at stake. Wouldn't that be the real spur? Or, as we like to think, someone who is close to us. It would have to hit pretty close to home. You would have to be ready for that, and for it. Clearly, it's not go- ing to be a piece of cake either way. I told you we were dangerous. As dangerous as an animal--right? Well, we're far more dangerous than that, even. Just put on your local or national news. It seems to be happening in your own back- yard, but it's not. It's not even happening, or never happened, the way you see it there. It might be better or worse. Depending. But either way it's a waste of time except as a snapshot, and who pays attention to those anymore? We're used to moving pictures now and rush all over to keep up with them; this can lead to a pretty bleak view of the human body. Time to pay more attention to ourselves, I think, not less. If that's a collective unconscious out there it's starting to look a little frayed at the edges. Maybe we've been afraid of too many of the wrong things. That far hill over there, I can still look at from here, might not be there tomorrow. But it's damn well sure there today. And, I think, it has your name all over it. I already know it has mine. And, yeah, I'm scared. So what? I want you to think about this, and I want you to think about this long and hard. The picture is not what it seems. Let me ask you, again, even badly, as I always do: What does this seem like to you? Because, I think, it looks a whole lot different to me. I just wanted to say that, I just wanted to be clear early, and not have to work at it later. It's harder for either one of us then. This seems a lot better. And not necessarily for the reasons you thlnk. Let's put those aside for a moment. Let's say they don't even matter. What do you say? The whole thing is perfectly ok with me, at least for now. You see, I always seem to feel this way. So I think it's ok. You know what I mean. We cheat each other, this way. We never give a full enough account of ourselves then. So, it's always at this point, finally, that I try somethlng else. And of course it doesn't always work, so that I have to start over, once again. Big deal. I ought to be used to it by now, right? Hardly. How can it ever get easier? So often, we have to put ourseIves through the same paces, just to be able to recognize them, if for no other reason than the fact they had us dead to rights all along. That's a pretty big reason. But there are a number of others, and they look pretty good, too. Yeah, it's getting harder and harder to choose, isn't it? Not really. I think you knew all the time. I know I did, and, again, yes you can accuse me of cheating--but then you're not really paying attention, here, are you? It's the zero hour. And you're going to have to come through with a hell of a lot more than this. If for no other reason than the big dog sings, and you're going to have to do the same. Otherwise--get it? You're on stage, now, and everybody is looking and listening to your every word as if it were new, or even had a mortgage on it, any way as if it could still stand in place, waving, until it felt like moving off on its own accord. But these are not the right alternatives. It's time to look for something else, or someone, and you'll just be another figure standing in line. Which is ok by me, because I'm here, too. So why do anythlng about this at all? It all seems pretty perky to me, without me. So how about that? I know, it's self-indulgent, but then I'm trying to do a lot, from here, I'm just as guilty about this as you are. I let this go on far too often--then it's just us, grieving, for the lost moment. Hey, we're better than that. But you're going to have to officiate; I've never been any good at that. Anyway, the geese are fed, the sheep and chickens, and I want more than anything to be on my way, the pasture beckons, as if to say come it is all over the next cloud, or next patch of blue, but you have to hurry. Well, I'm not ready. But, I feel a little sheepish about this, nonetheless. Like you, I expected a little more from myself, and instead will have to ex- tricate myself from all of this once again... Or, as the saying goes, as the crow flies. But I'm not into that. It's mostly puerile, after all. A given. A start, a beginning. Nothing to pat yourself on the back for. Yet the same wash of feeling that overcomes anyone looking at the day, any day, for the first time must obtain, here. It's better that way, anyway. The sky itself is cream as much as it is blue. And not a star, today, is falling. It's beautiful, but the snow is never happy. Let me put it another way. Cold and heat are every- where. So I'm ready now. And, I know, I'm presuming a lot when I assume that you are too. But, sometimes, it's impossible to wait, right? There's all this snow. It's real. And there's a lot of space border- ing the farthest hill. I can see them both from here. Just as I know they are both getting antsy. So am I. But, perhaps, you're thinking I still didn't wait long enough. I don't know that you, with your long background and experiences, are any better at this than I am. So if I have to scoot, now, who better to listen to than myself, here. Well, I know, there are a lot of other pretty interesting choices, many of them exhibiting far more merit than a run at the sun. Still, it is morning. And don't we all feel a whole lot different then? And is this only something to put off, for a better day, when we have a little more time. We might as well go off and cast our votes for the mice. They do just as well out here, after all. Look, I'm trying to be honest here. Most of the time I can't afford to indulge in any of these peregrinations, at least not any more than you can. I think we're both ok, here, personally. In other words, I think if you were really here you would be able to lift me out of this present moment with all of its alternating blank and charged forays just as much as I might lift you out of your own present and kinetic moment. I think we both have to be open to any number of alternate possibilities, here, because at any given moment it is still possible to be blind- sided and left bereft beside the road, any road, as long as it's a road we don't recognize, where we have to pull over, finally, to ask directions. But, again, who should we believe, and for what reasons? I think we all usually have a pretty good guess at this. If you look at it, carefully enough, it's pretty hard not to ignore the early warning system: we'd just as soon do something else about all of this or else we'd like it to stand in place a little longer and give us more time, but either way we're damned, if we do or we don't. So I decided to list on over here, a little bit over to my right, or to your left. It depends, in large part, how you've lived your own life. I, for one, am more committed to being here than ever be- fore, though this could be merely a reflex reaction. But I don't think it's really necessary to say, yet. After all, none of this will ever be worth anything if you don't pick up the slack. I know, I'm putting a lot of pressure on you, but it is after all intentional. I think you can handle it.

    You see, I wish you could feel the same about me. It's not as
though I've made all of this up. I've tried to include you, at
every point--despite the fact I knew all along that I got to do the
real choosing. But isn't there more to it than this?

    Of course there is. And we're both standing in it. It is clear-
ly open, all around, and wants to include itself as well as us. But
it's still up to us whether or not we let it. Isn't that amazing?
We might be predators. Or, at the very least, the last ones to ask
any real questions about any of this. Why? Because all of the other
more mundane problems associated with this have all been dismissed
in advance, by each of us. We were told long ago they didn't be-
long. All we had to do then was listen. And so we did. We heard a
whole different story. And we're still listening.

    Like grass in summer, I almost wanted to say, but then I thought
that's dumb, and doesn't begin to express the real stretch I feel.
It's better, perhaps, like this. And the gesture rolls out, into
the pink arcade where you first laid eyes on her, and she first laid
eyes on you. It simply ceases to matter once it happens this way in
the first place. That part you both always seem to get right. Then
the years come, with their strain of joys and repressions. It al-
ways seems to be up to you, alone, to make them right, or right
enough to make it all worthwhile. Isn't that a pretty big order in
even the best of times? Of course it is. I don't mean to dissuade
you from any of this. Only, I think it's easy to screw up, here.
It has all of the markings. But none of the softness associated in-
stead with dissonance. Let me put it another way: None of the capital
letters, in your life, will ever appease you.

    So we have to look at it another way. There is no blame, here, or
if there is there's enough to go around both of us, so it doesn't
matter, anyway. There is a spring thaw, and it's early, so don't
get used to it. There's more, coming. It's just like here. Isn't it?

    Don't get me wrong, I think all of this is worthwhile. But I know,
however, you're still not sure. Why should you be? We can't explain
it. For a moment, that street in Los Angeles I was born on, and
which I have returned to over and over again, emerges. And I can
recognize myself; then it fades, again. It goes back, where it be-
longs. And, I try to do the same.

    It seems the least I can do.It's something we learn so early it
ceases to matter how it began, because that too is too arbitrary,
too ephemeral, too past. The light wiggles, blurs, a blip on the
horizon, and you're somewhere else. And it carries itself well and,
look, seems just as interesting as the thing you have just left,
now, surrounded in snow. Things are warming up. Memory lingers, but
goes out like a candle, then the whole thing turns around again so
that you are placed squarely in the middle. It's a tight squeeze.
You may not, in fact, relish any of this. But it's yours just the
same. And I'm betting you know just what to do with it.

    The shadows, like long supple hands, or fingers, weave in and out
of the white hills, just now. They are an important part of this as
they seem to know where they are. This is not a very subtle reminder,
but I think it's one we ought to take regardless.

    We are, after all, sentient beings. And shit happens too. When
we fall in love, it's great; but falling out of love can be pretty
great too. It just depends on which end you're at. Whichever one it
is, I'm not saying. Again, I want to say I love you, my darling,
whether or not you are listening to any of this at all. That's my
job, to make all of this easier for you, without saying a thing. I
don't expect you to say anything, either. There, I've put my fingers
to your lips, and brush against them, just so. There, I've done it
again--can you feel it? I want you to. I want you. Only, the error,
in which I started this day, precedes me. Don't, don't mistake me
for what I am not. It won't work that way. I'm coming all the way
over to you, tonight, so tomorrow you're mine. Do you see what I
mean? As the sun is setting, hitting the tops of the trees, last,
I intend to do the same; if you'll have me.

    Otherwise, the whole scene feels slightly off, empty almost. So
I think this is better, and we get to squirm a lot, to look a little
deeper into the heart of things. It's just that the whole thing,
here, keeps turning into the next thing, and faster than we can pos-
sibly move, or think, even. So that the burden is never fair, or
never really encouraged, that is. It slmply stutters along, into the
unknown future, as best it can. And longingly. And we get to look
in, peel the layers back, a little. Look, it's us. Who could ask
for anything more? These hills are gentle. And I've been waiting,
here, for you all along. I'm willing to grant you this. It isn't a
pretty picture, I'll have to say this much, but it's all we have.
We could do worse, and have. The night lengthens, this way, and soon
it will be morning. And I'll have to remind you of all of this all
over again. But, that's ok. You could, after all, lose a needle
in this light. I have. Which ls why I'm willing to take a chance on
you in the first place. We both have a lot to lose, here. Although
it might not seem that way to you. Still, if I had it to do all over
again, I wouldn't. It means too much to me the way it is, so I keep
thinking I really can't do any better than this. I put my chin out,
after all, and took my chances. The rest you already know, or you
think you know. I hope yours is not a mostly alkaline future. You
are the one, after all, who figures in this. Yours is the nub I want
to put my finger on.

    At other times, it seems all of this gets said too slowly, when
there is never enough time in the day, finally, for us to do all
of the things we thought of, felt, conceived or desired. But can't
this, really, be part of the richness--perhaps its very center? I
hope so. But there are times when I feel I have very little say in
this. Still, small miracles continue to happen: small puffs of white
on blue, or bronze on gold, exploding beside the road. And, looking
around, they seem to be happening everywhere. Then the voice of
authority breaks in and asks, as always, are they real or imaginary?
Who cares. That voice is getting pretty old anyway, isn't it? Hey,
I think so. But mine is only one voice, after all, lined up poorly
this way against that big old voice of authority... Even I'm shaking
in my boots. But, look, I can pick it up, like this, and turn it
over or under in my hands. Its authority, finally, comes from the
feel of it against the backdrop of a larger and larger field in
which the truth we keep muttering about feels more and more palpable.
Perhaps the frequency with which this happens is something we ought
to pay more attention to. I don't know. I don't think most of us
ever want to dip too far into the delusional, and at this point,
where does it start, and who will be there to tell us? We can
never quite count solely on ourselves even in the best of circum-
stances. We need each other. It's just a shame we can't get along,
better, more often than this. We could make great strides, we could
do better, and finally overcome ourselves--but to what purpose? I
don't think we know, or can know. I don't think it really matters.

    What is there to overcome, really, and who is telling you to do it
in the first place? Not me. You look fine to me, even on the edge
where you are losing restraint. After which it always gets a bit
confusing. There's anger, and there's a bigger threat afterwards,
always, to ourselves. So we often leave it pretty quickly in order
to avoid getting hit, first. Even getting hit by a word or gesture,
then, can be too much. But these are special times, and should
not be applied to the present, consensual reality: you hit me and
I'll hit back! I don't care what age we are, we're always going
over the same questions, the same reserves and extremes of the
moment. We have to get them right, or we are in peril. We might be
standing in the way of major damage, to ourselves or someone else.
Oops! On what side are you standing? If I say, I could take a lot of
flak for this, you could say you feel pretty much left hanging out
to dry, too.

    But, as always, it's your call. You have just as much to do to-
day as I do, and this might not be the best place to be doing it.
Sometimes, however, there does seem to be a large bowl of apples
or something of the sort placed carefully in the middle of the
table. And the chairs are set out, just so. And someone is cooking,
it might even be you. And, suddenly, in the middle of the whole
thing, the fumes of piquancy, the exhaltation and fear, you cut
through it. It peels away between your fingers, or before your eyes,
yet you are left holding the other, frayed end. Well, you have two
hands, don't you?

    Yet, all of this might be merely a form of remorse, or something
we can put away too easily. But if not we'd better stay on our
toes like this, for sometimes it can all be turned into something
else quite different, but look out for that corpse moldering away be-
hind you, as if the whole point of it were to be able to come out the
other side without any marks, or bruises even. Which makes it really
pretty uncertain and insubstantial in merit so as not to bear any
real consideration. I'm certain of that.

    Still, the buoyancy here is amazing; it picks us up and sets us
down as easily as the day itself. And, although the day itself is
never easy to find, isn't it something how the frequency of every-
thing keeps changing all the time?

    I had hoped all of this would be more clear by now. I wish I were
better able to express more how each thing keeps wiggling. I'd like
to be able to describe that. Instead, I want to offer you a startling-
ly new carrot here: empathy.

    It has a ring and flavor to it I like. And isn't that getting
down to it, where it's never as bad or as good for that matter as
you first thought it was going to be, and so it feels far more free-
ing than you had any reason to suspect. It suits you fine. It wants to
be taken seriously, as we all do. Like a wing and a prayer, it in-
trudes or extrudes itself into everything we do. Often, in fact,
this is the one thing we can never forgive, finally. Perhaps it's a
given, though, and we are going on far too long worrying about it.

    Anyway, you don't have to.

    There's another option here. You can take it or leave it, but
you'd better be sure. I can't promise anything, but leaving it
might leave you feeling suspended, or emaciated. It might be better
to make sure you have most of it in place in the first place. It
isn't going to get any easier. But this is no big deal. I'm pretty
much familiar with both ends. They, along with each of their in-
famous middles, pretty much all suck. So what?

    Remember, we're after something else, after all. These digressions
are important, but secondary. Sometimes, in fact, they have less to
do with us than anything. But, still, they have some meaning. And
we can always get into a great deal more trouble than this.

    It could be anything. But we'd have to give permission, that would
have to be part of it, a given almost. It would have to be that good.
That whole. That on the mark. The only question that remains is,
are you that good, that willing, that eager?

    I'm getting ahead of myself again, sorry.

    These are like calls I keep trying to make out, scarcely heard,
but which I know are terribly important, nonetheless. So here I am.
I'm listening to you, and I'm listening to me, and, I hope, both are
ok with you. The truth might come from either one of us, and at any
moment, so it might be best to be prepared for several alternatives,
at the same time. But then it's all up to you to choose here. In a
way, I'm hanging in the balance, although this may still mean
nothing to you. You never asked for my permission and I never asked
for yours. In fact, I, for one, never intended to keep you this long.
But in fact I had no choice. It was you who gave me this chance in
the first place. I had no idea, really, that any of this was even
possible. I simply came along. But to you it seems the other way
around. Doesn't it?

    You'll have no argument from me. I think there might even be a
kind of euphony here. Really. No matter that I have so little to
go on. That has no bearing, here. I trust you; in the deepest sense.
I have to. I have no other cholce.

    I think you're pretty much on to me here, already. But I'm not
going to give in easily, and I hope you do not either. It only
works when it's even. And isn't that the trouble? When are things,
ever, really even? And who would want them that way?

    I give up. But I keep running into them anyway. I know you know
what this is like. It does bear pretty heavily on the whole thlng,
after all. I think, sometimes, that I'm here mostly to provide a
fair choice, or as fair a choice as possible under these circumstances.
Then I know I'm in trouble. I never wanted any of this to begin with.
It belongs, finally, to someone else. Not me. Then the whole sky
turns upside down, and I have to give in. I can never get any farther
than this. Stuck, everything seems to get a little more interesting,
albeit hopeless. Because the fine ruff, under our thumbs, was never
meant for this or any other matter. It provides its own nutrients
for being. But are they enough? I used to think I knew, but that was
before the first flakes began spiraling down, here, and the whole
scene shifted again and I gave in.

    I think it isn't just that the snow is here. I had any number
of other perfectly good reasons. It's just that I chose yours,
nonetheless. I make no bones about it. I thought you were worth it,
and I still think you are. Why should either of us ever feel like
giving up? It's always so counterproductive, so future oriented, or
past intended it's hard not to notice, at first. Still, we always
seem to have to go through our little dances nevertheless, until
our new found confidence finally surfaces. It's true. It's all there,
once we look.

    And how long do you want to wallow in that? In a pig's eye you
do. What about heaven, remember that? I do. It was always intensely
warm, or else sharply cold, or else wet, or hot; we had the whole
ball of wax to explore, and did. In fact, we are still there, still
here, exploring all the nooks and crannies, until something else
heats up and drags us away, kicking and screaming into the future,
or else we are taken almost completely out of ourselves, and fall
in love. Either one, then, can make a pretty strong case for each of
our newly passionate kisses.

    We are enjoying these the most. Aren't we? Why wouldn't we be?
Ah, here is where it keeps getting sticky. Messy even. It's always
the edge we dream about most. Where all our senses are at their most
newly shorn. The horizon looks almost bloated, even, it is so filled
with us. Whether we are the aggressor, or on our knees, ceases to
matter.

    We are almost there, finally, at the antipodes.

    Which can leave us feeling, once again, almost speechless. But
I want you to think of me as you would almost any other room of the
world. I want you to bring all of your things here. And I want you
to stay a while.

    If I seem greedy, here, it's because I am. Come on, I think you
feel the same way. I'm just saying I do, too. That wasn't so bad,
was it? In some ways things are beginning to green up, which is
probably what I had in mind all along. But it's still winter, here,
nevertheless. It isn't a spring catalogue. But I'm still interested
even so, almost to the point of making it a project, in fact, some
thing to hinge the very heart of winter on. There is so much weather
ahead, here, I feel weeks behind. Sound familiar? I wish it didn't,
sometimes. How is it that each time I look up, the snow is still
falling? How can that be? Did I forget to put in the requisite pauses?
What does this say, then, about my own sense of urgency--or even
accuracy for that matter? And I wanted to do so well, here, for both
of us. Instead, just now, I seem a long way from here. But it's nice,
here, anyway. And I'm not even going to mention the flowers. You
can do what you want with them. I think they're secondary, but im-
portant nonetheless. Does it matter, either, that I barely thought
about them in the first place? I hope not. They may be only, at best,
something torn from the page, a sad but noble refrain meant for some-
one else. Just as, the other day, looking out my bathroom window,
I swear I saw a bluebird. It had all the makings of flight, which I
instantly recognized. Yet I felt strangely indifferent, as if I
were separate from the whole thing, like one of those large elms
out there might feel. Still, the weather continued unabated. I was
sure I had stepped out of bounds, and I was just as sure that you
would forgive me even so. Yet, I still wonder about all of those
canyon songs, surely they are still alive, here. I know you felt them
just as much as I did. I gave you that much, I remember that. I re-
member very distinctly. I can't, and don't, however, expect you to
do the same. It wouldn't be you, and all this would cease to matter,
then. It's not something that can come from me, even. You wouldn't
be comfortable with that and I wouldn't either. So, I guess I'm say-
ing I'm willing to give it a chance. I'm a poor risk, however. I don't
have much to offer. But don't let that stop you. Even at the lowest
point, there's a speck of dust, feathers even, or possibly an orchard
(though it is still snowing), a chalky blue sky with flecks of rust,
a hand billowing outward under the sun. I give them all to you. But
you are having none of it. And who can blame you. It isn't indifference,
after all, but this sheer strip of light that sets you apart. And you
are lovely, there. I stood there and looked, and listened, as long as I
could. I know you did the same. It is enough, for now. This is after
all the world we live in. But the light, today, is not enough. You see,
I began going out the moment you came in, or was it the other way
around? Isn't that what perspective means? Anyway, you thought I
meant to leave you there. How could I? That light you stepped into
had the wide distribution of tact you always required, as well as a
completely new demeanor, whlch intrigued me hopelessly, and whlch
seemed part of your charm, part of the day or the air itself, as if
either one mlght rescue us, however fleeting, leaving the bulk of the
terrain white, a cold and snow of such absolute zero our breath appears
completely blue. I want to remember you standing there, like this, in
the sheen of the day, small circles of heat surrounding you. It is
still snowing, and going to snow. Night has fallen and our days are
sewn into the whole fabric of the air. It opens all around us, and the
bed is still warm. We are enmeshed in it, marking time.


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