Fall in slow motion and you can lean on me. I’ll be your table. Down on all fours, I’ll support your back. I won’t let you fall even if it means you having to fall on me. My strong back will keep you off the ground and keep you safe, especially when the ground is lava. I won’t mind if it burns my hands, I will stay rigid and strong. Until all I have are the stumps of my wrists and ankles. But I will be your table. I will be there for you. The gods of Mount Olympus will transform me into well-sanded and polished walnut or mahogany or cherry. I will be smooth to touch and smell like I was just carved, I was just sanded. I am more than driftwood, but even if I was driftwood, I would own it I would rock it. It wouldn’t be so bad. I will hold this shape until I know you’re alright and if you’re never alright, I’ll hold this shape until the death of you or me. I am strong and supported. All my energy concentrated. I’m concentrating on it. Do you smell trouble on the horizon of a cold, frigid sunrise? Does it smell like no trouble at all? I taste the woodshop, flecks of bark and tree flesh dust my feet as I walk across. I see nothing but the space right above my hands. I close my eyes more than I open them. I need to get balanced get right. Blisters will form at my hands as I hold this shape, even though my hands will likely go numb. I can’t feel them. Cold tingly fear, like I’ll never feel them again. And it gets like this in meditation, well – without the pins and needles. But when you close your eyes, your hands just (my hands just) disappear. Where are they if I can’t feel them? Phantom limb with it all still attached? The smell of woodworking gets caught up in my nostrils. Sharp, but mellow. Sweet, but still sharp. To take one of the shavings and put it to your lips would probably taste just like a communion cracker. No flavor, but a wheat aftertaste. Bland and disappointing. But these wood shavings are not for eating. Imagine running your hand opposite the unsanded grain get deliberately getting splinters. I could karate chop this thing in half. I could throw it at the wall. I remember flipping the coffee table in a blind rage when I didn’t get accepted to Drexel.
George Washington jumps the gate headfirst into wooden rowboat. Out on the Delaware the creaking of the oars in the ice cold river. There must’ve been lanterns lit so that when the artist sitting dockside took out his paints and paintbrush to paint nightside could have had adequate lighting and painting a man in his heroic prime leading a war in freezing cold temperatures. I am soldier feeling the strong breaths of wind invade my too thin jacket. Every assault is traumatic. Feeling like a block of ice, glacier on the water. I’m not even a person anymore. My brass buttons are so cold if I brought the tip of my tongue to it, it would surely stick. Fly paper afternoon, stoned to the couch. Stuck. Like sticky sweet caramel brownies that Gretchen Janeway will always be making. Jeri Taylor with the details. Me with the details. I stick out my tongue to catch a snowflake. Melting upon impact I pretend it is a chicken dinner that I, a soldier, would kill to have. Literally kill to have. I’m killing to have it. When will it come? Willy Wonka Gobstopper where art thou? I’m waiting for my mashed potatoes with gravy and blueberry pie for dessert. I don’t care what color I turn or how big I balloon up. Roll me away forever, but give me solace and comfort in the food I feel like I’ll never have again. Smelling the frozen water dispels the stinking of other soldiers. The air enters my nostrils so cold it’s like cocaine clarity. My nose runs and I can’t stop it. My hands are on the oars. I must row on. Let the snot freeze icicles. I don’t care as long as I’m not left in some unmarked grave by the enemy. Redcoats are just as good as dead as the skin on an old injury. As I wiggle my numb toes I imagine a beach and sunlight and it takes me out of the present moment, but not nearly long enough. Lantern leading the way, showing time and promise me you’ll never leave. Maybe I could imagine being in the flame. Allowing it to consume me. Feel the heat licking at my heels now. What I would do to be that flame encapsulated and ensconced in that holy glass chamber. Where do I sign up? I see nothing but the black water around me, hear the dip and splash of the oars, feel the splintery seat upon my rear, trying not to move too much.
Diving down on my stomach, both hands protective across the back of my head, I am dunking behind a snowbank as I am pelted with snowballs. Frosted tips and sunglasses. It’s a deleted scene from Jack Frost. It is so so bright out. Despite my refuge, there is nowhere to hide. I am found out everywhere I turn. 360 panoramic camera view, I breathe and I am discovered somehow. The white, bright snow that reflects the light of the betraying Sun makes me squint, the cold wind whips my face, and I can’t help but cry. My nose is a helpless faucet turned on. Still on my stomach, I taste the purity and promise of winter. But as the barrage keeps coming, I think of all my dead snowmen comrades who have come and gone each winter. The wind finds passageways through my winter jacket, scarf, and gloves. I am wet and betrayed. Suddenly, there is quiet and silence and hope. The attack called off, my trembling heart starts to decelerate, taking its foot off the gas one toe at a time. Summer is never this hard. I feel someone approach me and cower. But it’s only a helping hand who helps me up and dusts me off. No face on his body, but I am glad to see him. An avalanche of attraction. Marquee with big lights, floodlights on a stage. Dancing the can-can but knowing that I can’t-can’t. Sipping his beauty through a straw slowly; Afraid to spoil it. Afraid to waste it and waste this moment. This has only been a scene in a snowglobe and I know am I trapped here. Know that I can’t get out. But this moment is so nice, so worth it. I will live out this time loop forever knowing that this is how it ends. It’s that simple. My mittens slide off my sweaty palms and my insides are warm climates and palm trees and coconuts. The face starts to defrost into marketable features and sear themselves into my brain. They say, “Do not forget me”.
Look at this crystalline form. Transparent cylinder full of promise. Thirsty for more. Delicate. This is my heart. Feeling my pulse pump through my hand as I’ve acquired a cut. I wasn’t careful. I was clumsy. Shattered. This is also my heart. A mess I now must clean up. Take the dog; Make sure he doesn’t step on the mess. It’s all my fault. Guilt and aggravation. Should’ve known better. Should’ve watched myself. There goes my heart. I take the broken pieces and sweep them up, but them in the trash. Hoping I got everything, even the pieces I can’t see. A blind man gluing together a broken plate. This can also be my heart. Time is like starfish mending broken limb. Regeneration. In a year’s time all is forgiven and forgotten. Memory of planting seeds to forget this one, true human gift. You can’t regift it. It has been tattoo’d on. Soul after soul after soul. Down the Styx we all go. At least we don’t have to paddle with our hands. Take your coins to pay the ferryman and unwrap them. It’s chocolate. It’s Hanukkah. Dreidels spinning in Vegas. Slot machine idea generator. It could be anything. Endless possibilities, but yet one true path for all of us. One true root in the San Marianas Trench. One true quake that never stops shaking us. Until babies turn blue and stop crying. Will we ever learn the lessons we need to? In Venice, where they are famed for glass-blowing, are their businesses threatened by water? By climate change and floods? Are they still making their beautiful glass? Is it colored deep and rich with vibrate hues the likes of which I thought I’d never seen? Are gypsies still in St. Mark’s Piazza selling Louis Vuitton handbags and running from the police? 2007 was so long ago. But why does it seem to fresh and simple in my mind? Threading together two different threads to make it all connect. Checkerboard. Moving pieces. Playing by the rules. Have I cheated before and just don’t know it? Listening close to xylophone notes. Lollipop energy. The candy looks like glass. One firm sheet. Is it sugar? Do Willy Wonka and Christ know each other? Have they met on some golden rainbow of his creation? Do they know Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? Proposing marriage in these questions. Gene Wilder on acid 25/8. Helen Hunt on Crank after.
Little flame flickers away from Time. It is the only thing that is holy and mysterious, self-containing wizard. Wax drips down and solidifies. I nudge it with my finger and it gives. It is a shapeshifter. Odo in the night who doesn’t know who he is. The wick will never fail us. It is God at the end of the Lincoln Tunnel. Abe Lincoln in the 1850s, reading while Mary Todd scrubs the laundry. Cold, drafty log cabin house. Maple syrup drizzled on a snowy day. Aching for more. Aching for warmth. Candles are fear and love. Hot wax in a con artist firefracker. It could light up the sky. And I am too awake for this. Morning spell has broken, I am too aware of myself. Trying to get it all done. Candle as weapon. Candle as projectile. Church, prayers, Christ on the Cross, and Capital Letters that have no Meaning except the One we Assign Them. King James Bible and therapy for life. Songbooks and dinner shows. Communion with a cracker. Wine tastes sweet. Dinner with the in-laws. Fishing on the boat. FDA does not approve. Afraid of fire, even the flicker of small flames; Together, many look like eyes. Watching, watching, watching. Waiting. Their patience is legendary. The light is not enough to write. It can relax or terrify. It depends what kind of trip you want. Salisbury steak on an airliner, chicken dinner on trains. It’s travel, it ends up in the toilet. Plunging my mind half-heartedly, distractedly. Break the candle in half to find the wick, the rope, holding it all together. Now it is crippled and maimed, but still maybe usable. Still functional, but not what the store intended. Shopping carts filled with candles, long cylinders of loneliness, dominoes down the stairs. When will it ever end? Candles that smell good and sweet, candles that smell like nothing, candles that try too hard and end up smelling awful. I can taste the smoke rising from the birthday cake as the candles are blown out. As we take them off, we lick the frosting one-by-one. A preview and teaser of what’s to come. Chocolate cake with vanilla pudding filling. Probably from the supermarket.