Climate, Man, Vegetation
It was our country at night. We were walking toward the water and I could hear the runners beginning to run. We were walking toward the row of cars and soon you would find your car and I would have to find mine. It smelled like summer in the suburbs: rhubarb and forget-me-nots. Day turning into night, and me looking for my car keys, holding you up. You had the look of someone who would later buy apples and forget the loaf of bread. After class, the jangle of car keys, the bloom of sweat between your breasts, across your back like silent wings: this is what I remember.
Do you know that smell? You said it smelled like dill. I said no, rosemary and pavement. You said it smells like water rising. I said thyme, black pepper. You said it smelled like grass. Boiled carrots, I said. Cut grass and carrots.
This was the summer I couldn’t get up most days. I saw you maybe three or four times. You were getting ready to move.
They said it was sciatica, but I knew it started in the brain. My brain was stuck. It said to itself over and over, it smells like the suburbs at night. This made sense to me!
At night, before bed, I read an old world geography book. It is predisposed toward mountains. “Mountains,” it says, “always stand boldly, form the relief in the landscape.” I read about the vertical distribution of mountain vegetation and the importance of trade. I read that south of the polar tundra is the taiga. Different things grow there. There is no relief.
It was a book from a school district that no longer exists. It was a book that came from a library sale. Of course, the countries had different names.
I see the girl who thinks she looks like you. I used to hate her. I used to try and say hello. Now, she laughs when I pass and I can’t think of anything to say. She picks at her hair and laughs and laughs. Her mouth is a blot of lipstick. She is proud of her boyfriend. She shows us a ring of keys, heavy with her keys, heavier with his. Her mouth is bougainvillea: common, red.
It’s no one’s fault. They said take this pill. This one or that one, two before sleep. Take four: in the morning or at night. It’s best to avoid alcohol. May cause drowsiness, nausea, lack of appetite, lack of useful secretions, the presence of useful inhibitions. These things, they said, happen sometimes. There is no relief.
Your husband has finished his degree and you are getting ready to move. I will have to return your black shelves and the lamp that needs re-wiring. I used the lamp to hang my hats on. Four hats and three of them are dark colors. Each time we talk on the telephone, words fly faster and faster. I imagine them to be bubbles in water. Each word a country, inhabited and blue. These words: they are nearly beautiful that way.