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  • We’d like to make them do things. We’d like to make the words do.

    - Nobody in Particular


    1.

    These are the scents that would arise independently: motheroftheworld, blonde ash musk rising from curling time, the lilac’s tumbling song, ripe plum. The colors: Picasso’s oxblood red carried in droplets across the sourdough yellow of wind-sanded deserts, cornflower blue tickling a natal sky, and the veins running beneath it all, green and reptilian. Sounds would vibrate, some harsh and battering like the chopping blades of an incessant helicopter, some mournful like the dull stop of a car door closing, and some carried away lost in air, in the nothing, unnoticed.

    What flavors? What flavors rest upon the tongue even now? Is it the sweetness of saliva winding ‘round the tongue? The bitterness and foul of rotting food fed on by bacteria by the thousands? Is it the taste of inhalation, the world comes in, and exhalation, the world comes out?

    And it makes me think of the sobbing women kissing Mary’s blue robes, crumbling in a joy where all boundaries get blurred – warm lips, hot tears, and stone.

    2.

    Come see, you call. You say, I’ve never seen anything like it!

    I put down the novel and pull myself up from the chair.

    When I go out, I follow to where your finger is pointing and then words leave. The sound of the screen door’s closing follows behind me. I rub my forehead to the sound of the gravel under my feet. I can smell sage in the damp air. The dusk has come like so many ghosts running and circling, I can feel the breeze of their movements on my skin.

    You are only pointing to sky. And this makes me want to kiss you over and over again.

    I don’t understand why people are afraid of new ideas. I am frightened of the old ones! you say suddenly and out of nowhere. I know the quote and I know you’ve gotten it wrong, more or less, but righter, too. The taste of cigarettes on your breath has come to mean love to me. I look at you standing there, wrinkled with laughter, wrinkled with time. Your balding head has come to mean love to me, the tender crown no longer innocent of sun and wind.

    3.

    Three I had decided long ago was to be my lucky number. A talisman against the square regularity of four. Three is a dangerous number, mysterious. Queer. Go through the third tollbooth in the train station. Take the third locker at the gym. Knock three times. Find numbers of three everywhere, even if it takes math. Nine is three three’s. Twelve, one plus two, three. And avoid fours. Twenty-two is two plus two. Sixteen is four fours. (The math is complicated.)

    What is your favorite number? Three. I make exceptions for eights. Eights are disguised entryways into infinity. I choose three because it's odd. I choose to be odd because without choosing, I am odd. And still, the math is complicated. And I am no mathematician.

    4.

    But this is the fourth section. My stomach drops. I know the worse will come. I can feel it in the way my hands feel as if they’ve turned to air when I reach for something. The long reach of ache – even ache is not the right word, but neither is pain – it’s a dull I can’t outrun. It’s the unblinking fish - one eye turned coldly inward, the other vigilant and flicking.

    We need to talk, you say. This is not out in the headlands, this is in the city. It is funny how here there is little room to escape, despite the voices outside, despite the labor of the passing bus. As you begin to talk, I steal a look at the clock. 6:25. Six plus two plus five. Wait another five minutes before you go on, then everything will change and a different outcome would be inevitable.
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