It happened in a matter of seconds, this overlay of violence in my mind, that took us into another life, and then it was gone. Perhaps what I wanted was to have my future thrust upon me. No, I thought, just another anxious fantasy. It was just the mind’s preparation on overdrive. It all might have happened differently. The alligator had every intention of biting her. Tori’s face flashed with anger momentarily before Frank tried to pull her away.
Jacob opened up an entirely new door for us. After that, we often spoke to the camera directly, to our therapist, when it felt like speaking to each other was getting us nowhere. I loved how cinematic it felt, how odd it was to speak through the lens. I was reminded of a moment in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, where the narrator says: Frankly, have you ever heard of anything stupider than to say to people, as they teach in film school, not to look at the camera?
The plastic surgeon, a short, blond-gray mustachioed man comes in to tell me he’s headed to the OR and will see me in there. He taps the rail of my bed twice, a gesture I take as doctorly affection, and turns to leave the room. I call after him, “Just remember—think small—like, real small. Like, just get rid of ‘em!” Dr. Haynes reminds me that this breast reduction is not cosmetic surgery.
The first skin I tattooed was orange peel. Supposedly the texture is similar to humans. I bought a kilo of oranges to practice on before you agreed. You came down for the weekend, watched as I tested the weight of the needle in the nook of my hand. When I cut into the first orange, there was no thread of blood – just juice.
Mother and the children had never killed before. That was Father’s work. All month long the rain came down, and gray-faced Father coughed in his bed, shrinking into a yellowed quilt. Mother and the children waded in the garden leaves and plucked off the heads of squash and tomatoes, ripped hairy potatoes out of the dark. But there was no meat on the table.
The Adriatic Highway, a ligament that holds the tectonic states together / A transparent field of magnetic vessels swaddling a crumbling desert / nosing the star-map a clan of deer migrate West / Sultry doe-eyed creature of darkness revolving around the metallic pole as a planet around its star in heat.
We talked about light and dark, how to render it in paintings and drawings, and how it connects to spirit. We talked about Emerson and Thoreau. They connected their faiths to mine, to the pantheism I developed out there in the woods, and to art as faith. As I worked with artists in prison over the next couple of decades, I continued to see this transcendental connection to light and dark through their eyes.
After Graham stopped returning my texts, I started leaving little parts of myself all over the Internet. In his early twenties, especially, Graham left doorways to himself everywhere—not just the normal abandoned social portals of MySpace and Friendster, but also a blog with a cursor shaped like a hot pink mouth. When I clicked on an entry, the disembodied lips smacked. Sickened, I kept clicking as the computerized sucking noise pulled me into page after page of journal entries, photos, digital check-ins at bars where he’d time-stamped his arrival.