In the Beginning
He is on his knees begging shamelessly while she whispers lies to a clock and a wedding ring gleams like a new appliance. A child is born in a lamp-lit room. Another child has vanished like a fear. All of these things are true when a blue dust settles like decades of bad headlines. Pages torn daily from a paperback Bible gather in a drawer. There is a locked door in the silence of the cellar, and there is so much power in what a man says that a boy can see what isn’t there. All boys can see what isn’t there, but no woman can make the clock stop conducting its solemn business.
The old man’s voice rumbles down a cobblestone street as the smell of diesel is married to the sharp slap of memory. A bus pulls away from a curb. A cloud of exhaust suggests a lost generation of steel, and locomotives and buses bring the old man to his knees once more at the altar of a moment. There is the sound of a hammer on an anvil. There are the ghosts of boxcars in the station. There was a time the old man believed in the power of steel, but then a national prayer was recited in a dead child’s voice.
A plane hurtles me into the future where dirty water from a garden hose will not slake my thirst for a blue bike passing on the road. A prophecy is thus fulfilled and a frequent flyer is my one true friend. The farmer’s daughter whispers lusty invitations through an open window while two women comb each other’s hair at the fence. I deny a spider entrance to a keyhole as a name fades more slowly than contrails in an anxious sky. Somewhere in the house a key turns.
An unheard plea is still alive, but the key in the lock has been removed. A towel hangs wet and limp, forgotten in a cold shower. A spider finds itself alone on a white wall. These are the lies told to no one but myself: An arm is warm at night. We barely touched each other. You remember, don’t you? The silent weight of your head on my arm? The brush of legs. The light of day through a blinding keyhole?
We put dead things in boxes and bury them in the sand, and we put our wet hands on a defective fan. We hold things underwater. All of these to test our mettle, but later, all the news is bad—the curfew is broken, the typhoon is on the way, the revolution has begun, and the prophecy will be fulfilled, night after night like a recurring nightmare, like day after day of steaming rain. This is the curse. This is the revelation making its way like mad current up my arm.