Memories on the Train

On the train I move at birdish speeds. I see buildings blur into living embers, points stretched into foreign conversation and foreign frames and the infinity of presence upon my sight. And the train too is looking, spawns a second set of eyes, mirrors me in its glass. My doppelgänger in the window glides in flat film against patterns of Berlin foliage, spidery and brief, while my bodily point of being sits in the train to see all this. I can’t quite tell if I’m here or there, and I wonder why I notice this split every time I’m on the train though I know it happens all the time. Is it the train’s speed that estranges me from myself, makes me a copy to observe? Perhaps this is a fecund space of observing, a space that creates rapid delights for the eye. My mind grabs images then wanders into other planes; sight is stretched into a past-seeing, turns to remembrance. In the train I leave the image as soon as I perceive it, but my reflection is immune and stays with me for this time. 

The woman in glass belongs to her own space, walks different streets, flies through leaves, sits on another side of the train. She must be mine, mimicking my train-ride sighs and sways. Though at other times, times away from the present, I am a solitary eyeball following her like a spotlight and she is not mine. I exit the train and sit in a café where all the flares and reflections return to the colors of one body, and I wander upon a memory or two in the black pupil of my espresso cup.

In the millions of bright voids freckling my memory, I see myself, see myself from outside myself. I’m filled with lack. Not doubt, though there is some doubt, but rather the fertile and empty space that loving anything creates. Some moments I have loved greatly, and they become ever brighter and whiter and more dimpled with vacancies as I travel forward. Time gets sticky and the more I think about its texture, the more I feel coated in my remembering being. If only I could see it, the goodness would give itself to my eyes and I could relive the becoming as if for the first time. I get close to certain moments, feel their weight sink in my palm anew. But the molten face of memory returns me to the curve of this ear, the tip of this nose, the greedy cavity of this eye, and alas, I face only this present self.

On one hot summer day, I laid in grass. There’s a garden near my apartment surrounded by trees and I walked over there to stare up at the bright jewly gaps in the canopies. The wind shook the pregnant trees and they showed themselves as sound. Shhhhhhhhh was summer air. It was such a wonderful sound and I wished I could welcome this air directly into open lungs, be as porous as the soil. My body is mostly boundary, mostly closed, and so I could only breathe deeply.

Leaves bobbed in their two-toned green, turning white on their shiny side when they stared directly into the sun. The leaf and I were different in our sun-bathing, for I remained flat in the same blazing gaze, I remained here in the grass. I reclined without motion and sunk vision into the dense crown of the tree where I was inevitably blinded in the trembling mass of new suns. The sounds of air could make me weightless, but I always floated back down, as my eye seizes only upon the forms and returned me to my own…the edge of shadows cutting matter, lines of grass as tangible verdant ribbons, not infinity. And the waving leaf to the eye was just a landscape salutation, while to the caterpillar, it was the universe and lunch. Then I saw a woman, who, gravity sparing her in ascent, climbed counter-matter, grasping strands of light and placing a foot in branchless absences. She balanced on nots not knots.

To her, the tree only suggested ascent, but, not grounded to earth, she knew space as swimmable. As to the bird, to the moth, direction was unweighted by objects being pulled in it or pushed towards it. She outlined ups in the upest way, unbounded movement. Even a memory as recent as this sits among the many jars of golden honey, amber and sticky and split between eye and I. 

I can remember my presence in grasses like a body of water. I sink and expand to a great cold pool, a liquid eye without an eyelid to protect from the coming rain. It’s always about to rain in Iceland. A woman visits the pool, wades into the glittering mirror and floats on her back. She’s both water and air, her suspension of states dependent on her knowing how to be horizon. She’s a spectral sun-spot dancing in thinning films of my vision. This is all dependent on my knowing not to stop memory in its conversions of matter; sinking grasses must become impossibly verdant water and she must appear to swim in it. 

When I was just below the surface, eyes just drowned, I could still make out the sun, watery echoes of objects I know. I slipped deeper down into space, greater and greater distance from form, and contour and color left my vision. In descent, photons were transmuted into speeding obscurity. I followed gravity to the place of formlessness, where sight is no longer a way of being. And my feet hit pebbles, slimy rocks and ribbons of seagrasses, though I came to know this by their pressure, their chatter against my ankles and sandy clouds of impact curling in my open hands. No color could tell me rock. The hush was one of blind depth.

Another time on a hill, I pressed my fingers into soft ground, buried acorns into mud with a nudging foot, and interventions of space have allowed me to imagine all kinds of marvelous things happening in my absence. I’m far from the times when I felt that ground under me, and now finger divots are brimming with raindrops, and acorns exploding from the earth to thank their absent maker. What I planted, flowering and alive, makes the summer air shhhhhhhhh. Far ahead of me on the tracks, a woman sits beneath a green tree on this hill. Far ahead of me, she has no idea who I am. I’ve filled soft palms of earth with rain and sent her flying there to check on foliage. I see her beyond this speeding train and write out her days and memories that seem real for a moment, that seem to reflect back something more than myself.

I’m not holding words like acorns, not making them belong to me nor belonging myself to them… My respect for language keeps me very far from it. Words radiate and gleam and so I’m never fully able to be in them; like particles of time, I can sense their movement, their sticky viscosity, but I cannot see their form. Memory belongs even less to writing than to the eye yet I try. There might be some way I can become part of this earth of symbols, like a happy maggot in the dirt or dust in solar orbit. My best attempts remain industrial; I can be a bridge between raw mind and hard crystals of ordered meaning, sometimes and briefly a floating horizon, water and air. I slope and shake, I am more one then more the other, and words to me are truest when the bough breaks and the earth eats away anything I’ve constructed. But I’ve not been to this chaos yet, for I hold words like acorns.

My train stop passes me and I fly forward in my thinking. One summer night I watched two moths kill themselves in my bedside lamp. They flew through the open window together, swirling around each other in lovely mirrored oneness, then both dropped to the upturned lamp. They sizzled, and their flight burned up in the spotlight, puffs of insect particles, transmutation of exoskeleton to smoke. They became a single singed swirl of floating formlessness, the fumes of their end together. Like a curious alchemist I tried to peer into the bulb but was blinded and filled with white dancing suns-spots: I see an amoeba, I see a quasar, I see a dust of flightlessness. They drank too much light, they burned themselves alive. I turned off the lamp, but the smell of burning wings remained. 

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