So I hide in this closet. Away from les chiens dangereux. Les chiens terribles. Monstrueux. Le chiens que je déteste...
Is it true though? Do I hate these dogs. Apparently a construct not worthy of a question mark, but regardless, hate is perhaps too strong a word.
Does their incessant barking drive needles into my forehead? Yes. Does their smell churn my stomach and dizzy my brain? Yes. Does the sight of them frolicking together Outside send paroxysms of jealousy through me? Yes.
And that, reader, is perhaps the thing. The basement, if you will, of my ill will.
Brian Spears in a poem titled "Florida" from his book of poetry A Witness in Exile writes:
"We cannot build
retaining walls to hold back
the sea - ocean percolates
through our limestone bedrock
and will drown us all one day.
Mangroves will survive,
sawgrass: that which salt cannot
desiccate. All else collapses,
but not yet. For now we build
bubbles; flipping is in our blood.
Land pulled from the swamp;
land the sea will soon reclaim."
I find my weary, sodden, dopey, recalcitrant mind fixated on this idea of my peninsula, my own entire prison, enveloped by water, overtaken, consumed by salt and by sea air and by les poissons.
Do the dogs think of this? Is it shuffling inside them as they play? And if not, do I covet them their ignorance?
Their affection for each other?
That we are dissoluble, ultimately. Ashes to ashes and all of that which you already know. A fragment of a melody stuck spinning in your inner ear.
We are so brief as to be invisible. And our own lives so full of gravity; as though you are the sun, reader, as I circle you, and we chortle, or we fill with anguish, or we love, but we nonethelsss circle, circle, circle.
And those horrible dogs, they do this together. And they are satisfied to never wonder where Florida may move. How it might sink. How my heart breaks to see them embrace, doggish, in the Outside, halcyon fields of flowers and lizards; perfect in their pure happiness (and I am not one to believe in "purity" or "perfection," but one only has to watch them - the complicated geometry of their bones and muscles working as they dance together in the dirt); Hyperion's own daughter and son; and I am from their union and their joy kept, a cat in a closet, trapped in the closet.
Or I slouch into the prison. Glance around me. Fall asleep. Watch the prison guard. Read. Fall asleep. Gaze out every window. Dream. Imagine Florida just a tip of rock jutting from the water. Eat - each pellet of food exactly the same in taste, texture, size. Fall asleep.
Dream my prison guard staring into my eyes, finding something like a soul (I do not believe in souls); dream her understanding; dream her riotous; the dogs insects balanced on stick legs wrapped in paper, shipped off somewhere; dream my own blood a surging tide, my heart the moon balancing all of gravity, my center the center of everything - more than heat, more than fire, more than all-everything, and this: an admission of guilt, and then the caress of forgiveness; my mother's eyes on me. Ocean waves licking my feet.
And I wake alone.
Because I am always-already alone.