Posts Tagged ‘love’



Secrets onto Paper Airplanes

It wakes me up again, a question that will not answer itself. You open my hand on the street in front of a bar that is covered in graffiti. You mark a black X on my palm and tell me that tomorrow it will mean something; that this is inevitable, and that it is also necessary for me to be confused.

The world presses on me; the people, the things they say, all so repetitive, all so alone. The cars (where are they all going?), the ads, the signs all screaming at me to pay attention. To what?

In a better world there are longer, greater distances, there is wide wilderness and anarchy. The city becomes a tiny speck, fragile as an outpost in the north, and the next city is a five day flight. But instead, this is the world we’re given (or that we’ve made)—crammed with people and even more crammed with symbols.

I want to kiss you in a riot, slip a piece of rubble into your pocket, from a wall they are tearing apart. When we meet again, it will be in a desperately crowded dance club. It always is. I will think you are dancing, I always do, but no, you will be fixed in the middle, barely swaying, almost standing still. I will go up with you to the roof, we will locate Sirius, Arcturus, Vega, Capella, Rigel, Procyon, Betelgeuse, Altair, Aldebaran, Spica, and Antares, all the stars the city, with its own blazing lights, will let us see. By then I will have planned an escape, complicated and unlikely. All that will remain for us to do is run, run and in our mindless, thrilling haste give it every chance to fail. We will post our secrets onto paper airplanes and watch them coast down to the street, wishes that must never come true.


Without Ever Planning to Meet

I want to meet you without ever planning to meet, just happen to be beside you on the subway the moment you choose to grab a stranger’s hand and change your destiny.

There’s a toymakers’ convention in town. It’s off the green line, a wrong stop for us both, a place neither of us has gone before, and therefore immune to our preconceptions.

We need to change our clothes, so we buy some second-hand stuff, but without tribute or irony: anti-definitions. Moving through the alleys, we find a cat that wants us to chase it. It leads us straight there.

It would be easy to crash this event—we could simply walk in. No one ever checks. But it isn’t sneaky enough, it lacks the spirit of crashing. We enter through a service door. At the end of a tile corridor, we’re in a city of lego. Around the floor are the best tricks of digital technology, of magnetism and mechanics.

We take photos. It’s impossible to capture, exactly, such places, such inventions, because the camera only picks up what struts the imagination. Even children know this. But we do what we can. In the hotel’s print shop, we make them into postcards to slip them under the doors of the guests. A postcard is a false memory, an imposter. So we label them that way, falsely.

Late afternoon, we return to the loop. We find a protest, teach an anarchist to sing. No revolution will succeed without its song. We break into the SPCA with toys for the animals. It is negligently managed—no one is even there. We find two gentle dogs they are about to put down. We set them free.

At sunset, we ride a glass elevator in the financial district. We share pies on the street, run in the park until we puke, find the oldest, cheapest apartment that we can, run up the stairs, shower until the water goes cold, with our clothes, a bottle of whiskey, and kissing to keep our lips warm. We vow to get ourselves fired for our honesty, to live on selling whispers.

We need new names, but won’t know them for at least a year, and we will refrain from our own voices between sunset and sunrise.


Lovesick? Lovelorn?

There is a new section at Secret Vespers, called Lovesick. It is devoted to the passionate moments and affairs you are doomed to lose forever, to the desires you can barely name. It is devoted to the crushing realization that there is nothing you can fix, that there is no way to get that feeling back, that there is a world of dreams never to come true. And that they are all beautiful.

Lovesick is a series of confessions to the Internet. Each one is posted live. Each one attempts to capture the loss or impossible fantasy of a lovesick, sleep-deprived character.

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The Fall Never Ends

In the place I want to find, the fall never ends. A paper airplane, once it reaches the top of its arc, descends forever. A drink, once spilled, spills toward the ground forever. The leaves, when they drop, float slower and slower until they seem still. Every time there is a kiss, a green leaf turns yellow, a yellow leaf turns orange or red, and a new bud opens.

Once they have been falling for years, slower and slower, even the leaves and feathers, even the scraps of wrapping paper light enough for the breeze to have lifted, rest firmly enough to stand on. Rising from the middle of our sacred field, an android has gathered and arranged them into staircases, a maze wild as a briar patch, as colourful as November. At rest, he leans on his broom and his shovel.

You are a couple steps ahead of me, singing. Somehow you always are. By some trick of the dome of the sky, I can hear your voice behind me.

I have looked for the end of the world. I was cautioned against this. Many others, having seen it proven mathematically that we are all enclosed in glass, have looked for the boundary and failed. Some say that the android has touched it. Even if that is true, it is of no help now, slumped, as if in sleep, until there is enough material in the sky again to warrant sweeping it into a new staircase.

At a sharp fork in the staircases, you come almost completely around and begin a descent. These are the only times you face me. I want to ask you something, but you touch a finger to my lips, and now I am not sure what my question was, or even if I really had one. I wonder if your eyes always look like this, I rarely see them.

There are people, also, trapped in their falls. It is said this is the only way to become immortal. The fall never ends. You are right to avoid questions. There are no questions that ask, only songs.



Counted for Five Hours

I hear that 100,000 people pass through the nearest stop on the Metro every day. Numbers keep me up. I’m a quant, but that only makes things worse. Always estimating, always calculating the bounds of certainty. Very big numbers give me vertigo. I have this problem worse than most because I can relate to those numbers.

Last night, I stayed up counting. Not like “one, two, three…” More like the combinatorial explosion. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I wanted to put myself back into perspective, set my measure up against the combinations. We can call it counting. I didn’t intend to go at it forever. I intended to awe myself to sleep. You know that sense of tininess, of urgency, you get when you are immersed in a cathedral, a symphony, a planetarium, or in a small, quiet boat at night? That’s what I wanted. So I counted for five hours. I fell asleep as the sun was rising. I saw the street lights go out. How many lightbulbs must there be in the world? I saw the dawn’s first joggers.

My last girlfriend only ever wore sneakers. She would count her steps running, walking, jumping. At 100,000, she would buy herself a new pair. So that Metro statistic reminded me of her. She must know exactly how many steps she has taken over the past six years. I never asked her if she remembered specific ones. The thirty-six thousandth step. The ninety thousand, five hundredth.

It’s on the escalator into the metro I’m pressed the closest to strangers. Only a hug is closer. The only direction to escape, the only open space, is in the mind. How do you measure the distance between yourself and another, between disjoint imaginations? You, outside a bar with a friend you had never thought would hold you that way. The man ahead, in a spreadsheet, now seeing that he will lose his home and his retirement years.

If I slide my fingers into your hair, how many strands of it will cross my palm? How many times will your heart flutter because it knows you could fall in love right now if you were ready?

I want the rooftop at night. I want the streets before they are full of cars, the wide open space of a museum where the exhibit is space itself. I want to count the things that matter, list and hold them, and start by counting the shivers that go with a first kiss.




Like Turritopsis Nutricula

I came to the aquarium as I always do, when it is quiet. The crowds come for feeding time. They are chasing the agitation, the water filled with bubbles, the frenzy of desire. I come for something else, to watch the creatures swim slow loops or float, hide in their pretend reefs and wait. That is how we really live, isn’t it? Always returning to the places we just left, always waiting for something else to happen.

That day, you were standing with me in the tunnel, rigid and transfixed. The ocean under glass, you told me. A minute later you asked, did I want to see an immortal?

You led me by the hand into the research section, a place that reminded me of university—data posters on the walls, desks with computers and stray bits of equipment. Then into your office, full of the fossils of sea vertibrates hundreds of millions of years old. Some of the species you showed me live now. Some of them are extinct, including your favourties. I don’t remember all their names. I remember the jellyfish, Turritopsis nutricula, tiny and nacreous, never dying, but as you explained, a reincarnation that comes at the cost of its memories.

We could play a game like that, take a drug that prevented the formation of memory, meet each other again and again for the first time. Unlike these jellyfish, we could take notes for our future selves. But I know those movies have been written, and I know all of humanity has come before and left us their notes, history and literature. You added, all of natural history has come before and left us its notes, and you put a fossil back onto your desk.

I remember the poster you backed up against, algae populations against ocean depth, as you drew me to you. Not the lips, you said, opening the neck of your blouse and bringing my head there.

Who would not want a return to childhood, to live again and again, endlessly grow old and revert to innocence? But even the immortal medusae are vulnerable, you said later; even the most wonderful of creatures are sometimes lost.

You must know that I still visit the tunnel under the aquarium.