winter had me florid. flush from being outside in the wind and flush from all the steam from the baths and teaching myself how to sit. also from moving and rearranging everything in my apartment. my cheeks were bright red and my nose too. I was examining the spots beginning to form on my skin. like little freckles. burned patches from the sun. it was only 39 degrees when I went outside but I didn’t take my usual precautions to bundle as I liked. I wore the minimum, one button up shirt and jeans and my regular big black jacket, comfy gray hat, boots. I was touching my face gently and seeing it, bare, baring. braced. only the lamp was on. I enjoyed seeing my face more distorted or shaded. I object to lights after 7 pm. lately my nights have been dark, almost pitch black but for candles. I was unfocused on the noise of the room. the buzz that exists everywhere I go, in my ears or an echo reverberating from the street lamps. I wanted the sudden burst of color.
I printed all the postcards I had made for the past two years and stuck them on the wall. just everywhere in the apartment. winter dehumanizes people. at its core, it is the revolutionary season. you have to tough this out. there are things that exist solely to build shell and people have to sometimes just tough things out. Philadelphia in January is one. to cope with the frigidity and my need for these long enduring walks and then long enduring periods of solitude, all my curtains were bright patterns. the house itself was painted garishly and I enjoyed it: the living room was yellow, this was carnation, a baby blue in the kitchen, a sea rock green in the bathroom. my bedroom yellow as well. I began to dress it even more: placed my brown stone mermaid beer cap opener in a corner near the tub. and my hanging rock mermaid somewhere near that. threw some shells from Virginia Beach around and began to crowd the shelf that laid there with purple flowers. I named it “Venus.” I just needed to gaze at something every time my head was still. I cleared a bookshelf out to hold more frames to put more pictures. I put some of the books in the trunk of my car and was gonna give them to a colleague to give to her client. the rest were put on the curb for someone to grab. I didn’t have romance novels like she requested but I picked out some short pieces about a woman’s struggle with grief. also some old russian literature that I didn’t think I would get around to. I think there was a tragic love story there.
I began to notice the space warp and a bit of a line draw itself from the front door circling through the spare room to the mirror chest that held my brother’s ashes. it started where the owl painting sat near the entrance and extended across the second half of my wooden chest, lined with candles, fake flowers and hung above it: many portraits, pieces. some printed, some bought, some my own photographs. a picture of an obscure red metal statue set to a sunset in the snow near the parkway. a few shots of trees set to a river, various rivers. a printed picture of a woman with a bloody lip and the rest blackened out. the line moved across another area, a shelf still being built. still being monitored. and it moved through the dark red curtains of my living room where I had pasted several postcards in between the two windows overlooking the street. a stencil remained from the last tenant. I said it was ok to keep it so they didn’t paint over it. it read: In this house we serve the Lord. and finally circling around the hung framed piece of the dog, drooling with his mouth tied shut with flowers to pictures of my friends on the bookshelf to the mirror chest. I am in front of the mirror. I have been here for ten minutes looking past my face but I have also been seeing the line drawn from the front door over the dining room table where I do all of my work to the middle of the pink room as I stand limp in front of a mirror looking past my face.
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