Long Voyage: Always West, Heart Sinking

by dschapman

I promised myself I would dry out, but I wanted to stay in the swimming pool and feel the sun grow brighter in the drops on my skin. I drank the water from my hands like John from the River Jordan and felt the cold chlorine splashing like bleach over my gums and through my body, absorbed into my blood like the blood of the savior, dissipated from the eternal into the eternal again, in its form of self, the self of being. It was a set of very special words, a prayer, and I internalized it. It was like the smiling face of premium prince Nick Nolte  in a promotional picture; it barely existed, it lived in a time and a place and then in a garage, among garbage, on bubbled walls in a house in the woods. It was a long drive over snaking rivers under covered bridges and past orchards. I got lost among the apple trees and ended up spending the evening under a tree, fifty yards from my car, internalizing my time and my place, as the last such time for all of time, in an instant only once in place, and out of place in time again. My sweet romance, my aching heart, the feelings I have felt for other people, the love inside I keep inside me, safe and out of sight; otherwise I would eat them all out, everyone, until I drowned, under a table, my back in pain, my leg in spasms, my vision blurred and greying, my thoughts in the shallows of space, past the atmosphere, among devils and angels and shadows of the blood of heroes – I have bled, but I am not a hero. In the streets with the devil I made a rough trade and had sex on a lawn chair. The plastic strapping broke and he burst out in blood and drool. I flicked it from my skin and resumed my shaky misery, routine and fully realized, as bleak as a house in a prairie, as orange as a sunset sleet. “There is no pleasure, not on earth,” I said, “There is nothing at all at all, at all.”

She didn’t expect to see me again just as I did not expect to see him. They bled together in the background like the shadows of ghosts, my dancing ancestors, full of grace and light and lively enough to haunt me. “I love you,” I told her, thinking of him; when I fucked him, though, I thought of her, and when I fucked her I thought all of stars again, flowers in a thawing field, dewy sawdust in the unlit trough; I told her how I felt about monsters, I told her that I was a Christian, and that I feared change, and that I hated science. She did not believe me. I told her that the monsters scared the hell out of me and that Christ was the only thing I understood. I explained the inherent flaw in regressive tax codes. I disputed the existence of race and gender. I cut my finger on the broken glass of the flickering screen before my nerves gave out, and I fell away again, into the deep, where the angels and demons lived, like whales in the ocean, squids in the trench, like a great comet drifting through the universe, past Andromeda; everyone spoke Latin, everyone died at Vesuvius.

In mythology class I fell in love with a man named Hephaestus. He was a small man with a broken leg but very talented and I wanted to be like him. When he chased Athena around spraying come on her I laughed and I laughed and I thought, “What a dumb, stupid bastard.”

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