Dear Marshall, Language is our Only Wilderness – Heather Sweeney
February 13, 2018
I treasure the few moments between sleeping and waking when I forget that you exist.
I drop my head into confetti. I like to get fucked up. But just enough to. Delete a star. A spacing. I am driftwood. Retracing the sound. Falling out of me. I am pulled hair. Behind. I am suddenly, the smell of gasoline. Of unseen fire.
I think of the times we went into the woods behind the trailer park. When our hands touch I don’t care how cold we are. Anything is real. Again. Here, pulse and ice. Everwhere. Into woods. We were an unnamed season. A crown of crow wings. If anything your fingers laced through my hair. A crown of our own making. Leaves still stirring in my lap. And if we are the same then nothing.
I am trying to understand but that is the problem with me. I am trying to rock my own world. I have faith in attempting to write a complete sentence. Now I fall asleep with Tropic of Cancer between my thighs. No one ever. No one ever is enough. Or a sentence that belongs.
I am at Ocean Beach. A shivering paraphrase. Watching a backwards wave. If I could touch the phrase at the back of your throat. The soft territory. I waver. There is German beer at the deli. At least. There is latent sunlight. Please ignore my last letter.
I am drawing animal heads into the newly born fog. I am almost home for no reason. Already blank, treading Pacific muscle. My nails are Russian navy. Almost to one home now. To no one. Something smells funny in my apartment.
Can we stand at the shore again as my sweater disintegrates under your hands. Please disrupt me. I get that sometimes you cannot handle me. I have heard that before. Regard me as a chapter of asymmetry. The cabbie who drove me to the airport was Australian. We talked about buffalo herds. Somehow. He made me laugh. Lost minutes among sharpest shell. I put my tears in the bottle that bore me. Recklessly, into the present.
I am borrowing from myself again. I want a drink and a cigarette the way some people want sunlight. I take nothing from no one. Truth is my angled centerpiece. Real love is ugly as fuck. A shard of light. I try to make it look pretty because what else can I do?
I’m still making these shapes in the ocean of your shoulder where birds survive and still themselves at dawn. Inside your metallic dream sharpening into a fortress of flames. When waves break into sirens on our backs. Into a bank of carefully worded sand. Where I dissemble and hunger in your ruin.
I am so sick of myself. This beer is like water. I was misled. I am a calloused cloud. A veil of dirty ash. Everything I touch is. A vile pedagogy. These echoes suck. I know.
A lot of time I am pretending now. Remember when nights were new on our fingers? Nothing could ever touch me more.
I am static. An imploding signifier. Standing in the way of myself. The brightness recovers. As a flame. My prayer of fire is easy. My prayer is an orgasm.
You are a kind of punishment. A ghost of ferocity. Everything I write is a failed destiny. Do you remember that time your mom tried to get me to do crack with her. We were watching Wheel of Fortune. Am I still someone you used to know?
I am the cherry inside these rotting words. A cognac night of blemishes when the trees were brutal and armless. I am face down on the forest floor. The smallest hole going numb.
My friend Tara visited me here in Boulder last week. We were high for six straight days. We made holiday cards and went hiking. She didn’t ask about you. Not once.
I hate potlucks. Either have a party or don’t. Here I lay as a broken blister. An imitation. This is where the waxy cups tremble. On a ledge of false arrogance. J’Lyn said this is not procedural. She is not sure what the procedure is though. This is where I self-medicate. Here the letters stop and try to change. To turn and face themselves.
You are slowly learning that I have real feelings. I am scratching at the words I don’t send you. Because. I falter. In some dimension of lilies. I am a different kind of grace now. Or ignorance. I am not sure anymore. Of anything.
I am bramble and gateway. Crusted with mud. I am not a role model or crying through an SPCA commercial. There is something like steel wool in my chest. There is a grammar of cocktail swords I am slowly sucking on.
What are we made of? Cixous says it is our weaknesses. I have been taught to disagree with this. I feel that we are made of our scars. And that questions like this are slightly dangerous. That the truth has already been written as the enemy. But I can only exist here. Without you.
I am counting on one hand the things I fear anymore. I am a vial of blood worn as a pendant. The latitude of. Trying hard to be. I am in the ever-real. Ordering pot on amazon. Reaching the bottom of air itself. Reaching for a discontinued color.
Now I am someone’s wife who makes jokes at parties about what a failure I am. Everyone laughs. I don’t do home or dinner parties. I don’t do all the things. That. I want you to wrap me in all the shades from a Hitchcock movie. In all that we ever saw.
I am slowly unwriting all of these sentences. Coastline tremors. Stuffed rabbits on the shelf. I put a stethoscope to fallen rain. I am a liquor store in a Midwestern field. The wine cooler that made you sick. I already thought. But this is all I knew. If only my dreams would trust themselves.
Let’s play cult leader. I’ll let you hold the flowers this time. I’ll be guns and you be roses.
Nature no longer completes me. I wake up and smell my own stem cells. Ragged and pacing. Sometimes tells me. Parts of me are useless now.