Karen

Working out alone, in the prison of my own making, sit ups, pushups, lost time, the bird on my windowsill who comes from afar.  Its colors are not from around here and it’s only visiting me for a few seconds and then I’ll never see it again.

People are like that if you can only wait them out.  They might plop themselves on your couch and grow roots or repaint the bedroom, but eventually they leave and if you say the right things, they get the idea you don’t like them very much and they stop coming around all together.

I call those kinds of episodes, victories and if I find I really like someone, I usually fall totally in love with them, but not for the way their molecules sidle up to each other, but rather the emotions I can steal from them.  Love does not necessarily mean commitment.  A one-night stand might have the same meaning as the fall of Rome … all those boundaries to be redrawn.  That sort of crime is silent, invisible until people realize what is going on and then they might get hurt in some way.  I guess that’s not a very nice thing to do, but for me it’s like breathing air.  I need oxygen to live and I need events and people to imprint upon me or else I die little by little, mostly at night when I get up and walk around in the dark, feeling my way along a wall or stairway.  That is really what the passing years are about, the absorption of emotion and in the process I become a new person.  Little or big things, it makes no difference as long as I can feel them.  Sometimes I augment the process with emotion juice and different substances that rattle like the end of a snake and together they create invisible pens writing poems, emotional jags, rants, disasters in the air for me to read out loud.  The next door neighbor knocks on my door and tells me to hold it down and I say, I’m here alone and they ask, who are you talking to and I tell them, fuck off and so my relationships with people deteriorates just one more step down into the hole.

Her name was Karen Zimmerman.  Her father was a big attorney in Atlanta.  I met her in math class.  She wore clothing that was a few sizes too big and I immediately knew she was hiding from everyone and so I wanted to know her story.  Why would someone so beautiful, dress in a tent?  Sadness, trauma, anxiety, depression are all reasons to hide, but they have a cause, a source that must be reckoned with and I was just the person to help her through her times of sorrow.  I understood sorrow better than most people.  I’d had plenty of practice living in the shadow of dead people.  I knew how they talked at the end, how they crawled around on the ground, begging for things that were totally unavailable and then they would die, sometimes in piles or by themselves in lonely little spots.  Things are very dense around the dying.  All of this gave me a perspective that others had, but I don’t think they understood it the way I did.  As one person said, so you’ve done a lot of stuff, so what?  Indeed, so what?

Karen Zimmerman was not looking for me by any means, yet I followed her out of class that day and chased her down in the cafeteria at the University of Arizona and soon enough we were dancing in her apartment with the lights low and she was asking me if she should fuck her black neighbor, the guy who I had won $40 bucks from as we played gin out by her apartment pool, waiting for her to get home from working at the Mongolian Barbecue over on Speedway.

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4 thoughts on “Karen

  1. I bet Tom Waits could make this piece into one heck of a song – it’s got midnight sadness with a certain sweetness which you share with him in your work. Also the reoccurring sense of loss, slowly slipping but then there is that bird on the window sill. That warm spot on the sofa where love once sat. Or your dog. But as you say, love is a separate entity which doesn’t reside anyplace long. Long described as an eon or a day.

    Liked by 1 person

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