Today I dissected a squid, the late acacia tossing its pollen across the black of the lab bench. In a few months the maples will be bleeding. That was the thing: there was no blood only textures of gills creased like satin, suction cups as planets in rows. Be careful not to cut your finger, he says. But I’m thinking of fingertips on my lover’s neck last June. Amazing, hearts. This brachial heart. After class, I stole one from the formaldehyde & watched it bloom in my bathroom sink between cubes of ice.
Last night I threw my lab coat in the fire & drove all night through the Arizona desert with a thermos full of silver tequila.
It was the last of what we bought on our way back from Guadalajara— desert wind in the mouth, your mother’s beat-up Honda, agaves twisting up from the soil like the limbs of cephalopods.
Outside of Tucson, saguaros so lovely considering the cold, & the fact that you weren’t there to warm me. Suddenly drunk I was shouting that I wanted to see the stars as my ancestors used to see them—
to see the godawful blue as Aurvandil’s frostbitten toe.
Then, there is the astronomer’s wife ascending stairs to her bed.
The astronomer gazes out, one eye at a time,
to a sky that expands even as it falls apart
like a paper boat dissolving in bilge. Furious, fuming stars.
When his migraine builds & lodges its dark anchor behind
the eyes, he fastens the wooden buttons of his jacket, & walks
outside with a flashlight to keep company with the barn owl
who stares back at him with eyes that are no greater or less than
a spiral galaxy. The snow outside
is white & quiet as a woman’s slip
against cracked floorboards. So he walks to the house
inflamed by moonlight, & slips into the bed with his wife
her hair & arms all in disarray
like fish confused by waves.
beyond pheromones, hormones, aesthetics of bone, every time I make love for love’s sake alone,
Allow me to recommend a sort of person that you should ensure is in your life at all times: a non-parent with whom you can be on your worst behavior. This can be:
- a friend who is a girl whose house you can just show up at crying and who doesn’t get annoyed at you for drinking all their orange juice
- a friend who is a boy who will distract you from your problems by trying to force you to enjoy things he knows you don’t (music, whiskey)
- an ex-boyfriend with a closet you can pillage for boxers and stained t-shirts and a bed you can fall asleep on in your jeans at 4pm
Here’s the deal though, you have to be on the other side of things sometimes. You have to be willing and able to drop everything to meet someone at a specific time and place just because they’re upset. You’ll probably have to buy them dinner and maybe even order for them, because they’re exhausted and starving and they don’t even know they’re exhausted and starving. You just need to be able to “take care of things.”
It’s all worth it though! It’s because of these sorts of relationships that you can be on your best behavior most of the time.
There are things one loses in giving up God, and they are not insignificant. Most importantly, you lose the guarantee of redemption. Suppose that you do something morally terrible, something for which you cannot make amends, something, perhaps, for which no human being could ever be expected to forgive you. I imagine that the promise made by many religions, that God will forgive you if you are truly sorry, is a thought would that bring enormous comfort and relief. You cannot have that if you are an atheist. In consequence, you must live your life, and make your choices with the knowledge that every choice you make contributes, in one way or another, to the only value your life can have.
Things, events, that occupy space yet come to an end when someone dies may make us stop in wonder—and yet one thing, or an infinite number of things, dies with every man’s or woman’s death, unless the universe itself has a memory, as theosophists have suggested. In the course of time there was one day that closed the last eyes that had looked on Christ; the Battle of Junín and the love of Helen died with the death of one man. What will die with me the day I die? What pathetic or frail image will be lost to the world? The voice of Macedonio Fernándes, the image of a bay horse in a vacant lot on the corner of Sarrano and Charcas, a bar of sulfur in the drawer of a mahogany desk?