1. Propitiation

 I find my face moving, giving notice to something: the phone on the table, the front door closed and my boots near it. on the floor and my palms are pressed there. I dropped the howlite. an effort to keep  still. then I am grabbing my headphones. I am usually interrupting myself. I am clutching the straw and the keys and the knob. knees crack and my wrists hurt too. the T-rex bend to the elbows so I can fiddle as I pace. I dropped the howlite for this. habits are insidious. they are the leftover thing to shake. they are made from ephemeral need becoming  the most used devices even though need is fleeting. one sip of water to sate a tongue.  one glass, a throat. a couple, dehydration but this is the distant oasis you’re after. this is the gauntlet. these tics: they just sit through anything and become big, fed, fat. the word habitual means regular or usual. I am flinging the front door open in hat and coat and headphones because the come up is hard but you have about ten minutes of a mostly innocuous adjustment before it gets harder. habits are familiar. they are the leftover thing.

I am on the sidewalk moving slower than time and leaning to one side. my back bends a little and I feel almost breezy, or fragile. if a wind came, I would have to be careful feeling that I would let it take me. my feet are not dragging. they are picking themselves up deliberately and making our way down the street but slower than time. a cool saunter and my mask is on so I can narrate out loud, openly what is happening. the first thing I say is:

“there is no joy in the pandemic.” 

I feel guilty saying this out loud, as if I am judging the person’s apartment that I am outside. I am looking up to the right at their walls not drawn to the cream plaster but the overcast sky and thinking. I am finding joy. “being out here,” I kind of wave my hands, “is miserable. I miss talking to people.” there is no joy in the pandemic. no one is happy right now. “there is no joy in the pandemic.” 

I am fuzzy and cannot speed up my walking. I have gone only, truly, around the block and I cannot imagine withstanding the gray, the row of red brick now, the owners and their dogs avoiding me. this is not happiness. I see three people and their dog walking towards me. I had intended to walk as far as I could. I pictured myself getting lost in a park and also shivering at the thought.. I have no provisions. “there is no comfort in the outside.” I am in front of a row of townhouses that look exactly the same

 I left a candle burning. 

and I had only been outside for ten minutes when the mushroom grabbed me,
like a mirror,
held me in her attention.
first, go back
then wait,
slow, slower than
habit,
paced.

watch the flame.

II.

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