Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Dark, There Were Many Fireflies


I.
My father came in and said they were getting pizza.
I was not hungry; I did not want pizza.
My mother kept offering me bread.
She was always worried about me:
Was I eating enough?
Was I being healthy?
Was I 'sick' again?
It was Saturday night.
I was in my house, alone,
Reading The Sun Also Rises.
They both seemed worried.
I did not want pizza but I said they should get it anyway.

II.
After they left I turned off the light over my desk.
I turned off all the lights in my little house.
I laid on the floor next to my bed.
I listened to ambient rain sounds on my computer.
Outside, there was faint thunder.
I felt dumb.
I tried not to feel dumb
I tried to feel like it was all supposed to mean something.
I tried to feel like there was a something
And that I was going to find it.
But I couldn't decide if this was funny or not
And the ambient rain sounds were still playing on my computer.

III.
I took a cigarette from an envelope on my shelf.
I decided to smoke it.
I got up and felt around through the house.
I pretended I was blind.
I found my shoes and put them on in the dark.
With my hands I turned off the air conditioning and found the door.
I walked out.

IV.
Outside, it was dark.
Above me there were many stars.
I stopped walking and looked.
They were all very pretty.
There were many creatures in the forest singing.
The wind was blowing and it was very nice.
The day had been very hot and
Everything smelled like grass now.
I lit my cigarette and started walking.
Over the grass there was mist.
I looked at my feet moving through it
And pretended I was a giant roaming through a foggy meadow.
I tried to imagine how many things I was killing.

V.
Behind me, the sky was clean and black.
I looked at the darkness and felt small.
The clouds lit up from inside themselves.
I could see a dark thunderhead rolling toward me.
Soon the stars would all be covered.
I felt little and unimportant.
It all looked like fireworks and I tried not to think of myself.
I pretended to set off the lightning with my cigarette.
But I just felt dumb.

VI.
I took a long drag of this cigarette
And began to feel silly so that
Suddenly, standing,
With the lightning there,
In the sky,
I felt sick for it,
Beautifully sick for it
And inside of myself
There was something like butterflies for it.
I wanted to eat this light,
I wanted to put into myself
So that the butterflies would stop moving.
I wanted to eat the light
In the darkness
By myself.

VII.
I imagined my insides.
Everything was pulp and mulch
There were fireworks inside of my belly, inside of myself.
There were many gurgling sounds
And a film of cigarette butts on the water.
In the flashes I could see the little butterflies,
And I saw something like a face in the floating cigarette butts.
I could see the firework smoke,
And I followed it up to my throat and watched it blow out of myself.
I felt like God.

VIII.
A fly landed on my face.
When I swatted at it,
My glasses fell off and
I looked for them on my hands and knees
In the dark.

IX.
When I found them I looked at the lightning some more.
I took another long drag from the cigarette
And began to feel even sillier.
Feeling like God again, I walked out of the shadow of the barn
And into the light of a neighbor's flood light.
Immediately, there was regret
And I could not see the lightning so well.
I tried to shield my eyes with my hand and my arm.
And then I was covering the light with my thumb.
It felt like the last line of that Robert Frost poem
Where God says, Put out the light
And it's supposed to mean that the world is over.

X.
With my thumb over the light,
I imagined all the little animals in the back pastures
Holding each other and crying,
And thinking about their achievements in mathematics, and art, and science.
I imagined Ernest Hemingway shooting them
In their faces and laughing.
Then I imagined him seeing the light covered up
And shooting himself in the face.

XI.
I took a longer drag of the cigarette.
I felt my stomach gulp and belch.
Ernest Hemingway was screaming and melting in the goop and bile.
I blew his smoke out through my nose.
Oh Ernest.... I thought.
What a goddamn tourist.
I thought about how important he thought he was.
I thought he was dumb for writing stupid things about himself.
I thought about The Sun Also Rises.
There were fireworks in that book
But I couldn't remember where.
I tried to think if they were supposed to be a metaphor or mean something.
I couldn't remember that either.
I tried to keep setting off the lightning
But I was already bored.
My eyes ached.

XII.
Along the fence there a great blueberry bush growing.
I went behind it and everything was dark and cool again.
I came to a gate and looked out at the darkness.
My sister's horse came out of it to nibble on some grass.
I could only just make her out.
And I thought about the thunderstorm
I wondered what the horse thought of it
And of me,
Coming out there like a tourist,
Covering the light
And smoking my cigarette.
I hope she didn't mind the smoke
But I hated that I cared.
I had the sudden urge to yell.
It went away very quickly.

XIII.
I put my my arm on the gate to keep the cigarette smoke away.
My head was swimming,
I could not think.
This was not a good cigarette.
This was a terrible cigarette.
Sometimes you get those.
I tried not to get any smoke on my clothes.
I didn't want my mother to know
I wasn't being 'healthy'
And that I hadn't been 'healthy' for a long time.
I hated that I cared.

XIV.
I started feeling sicker and sicker,
Just full of shit and grime from the all the fire and bones in my belly.
I kept smoking my cigarette,
And taking longer drags.
I suddenly felt my insides coming up to my mouth
And my chest burning for the bile and acid.
I began to cough and when I opened my hand
I saw a half-digested cigarette butt.
My eyes teared up and I told myself not to cry.

XV.
In the dark, there were many fireflies.
These were not stars and I was very certain of this.
In my eyes, everything became darker.
I began feeling hot and cold at the same time.
I sat down in the grass and put my head between my knees.
I felt myself spinning in place.
I felt I was bobbing in a pool of acid
Inside of myself, floating
With the cigarette butts.
I closed my eyes
But kept seeing fireflies.

XVI.
When I looked up,
Lightning flashed.
There was a face in the clouds.
I felt like Simba.

XVII.
I closed my eyes and rubbed them with my thumbs
And all the animals of the forest were singing again.
I wanted it to be over.
Everything was spinning.
The wind was blowing.
I was cold and miserable.
I had not eaten.
The lightning was closer now and I was very hungry.
I had not eaten.
Everything was terrible.
And I did not enjoy existing.
My general sentiment for life was largely negative.
I was not happy.
Nothing was good.
Everything was wrong.

XVIII.
I blew more smoke through my nose
And felt like a dragon,
A lonely and sick dragon.
I felt like stumbling back to my dragon cave and sleeping.
I felt like laying in a familiar dragon place,
And having my belly rubbed.
I knew I could rub my own belly
But I always felt lonelier afterward.
And it always made me sleepy.
I thought about killing things
And eating them
And not being hungry anymore.

XIX.
I laid down in the grass, quietly.
Trying to get everything spinning to stop.
I wanted someone to lay quietly in the grass with me
And I wanted it so that nothing was spinning
And we could being laying because we wanted to
And we could stand up straight if we wanted.
I wanted it to be just the two of us,
Being alone and quiet
Together but awake.
I felt like crying and vomiting at the same time.
I felt that if I did either of these things,
I would have liked to do them on my shirt.
I thought that looking at it then would make me feel better.

XX.
More lightning went off.
I forgot about everything.
I watched the clouds pass over my head.
A firefly landed on my shirt
I watched it light up and down.
I felt like it was supposed to mean something.
I was too sick to care.
I got up and began to stumble home.
Nothing was pretty.
I was sick and alone,
Just lonely and sick.
I was not God.
I could not see anything.
Above the barn, there was more lightning.

XXI.
I came home and the house was hot.
I was sweating milk and coughing up cigarette butts.
I wanted to call my mother.
I tried with everything not to throw up.
The computer was playing a song called "Unfamiliar Wind".
I laid on my bed and looked out the window.
There was lightning.

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2 Comments:

Blogger just jessica said...

This is beautiful. Really beautiful.

August 20, 2008 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Alicia Pernell said...

you seem like a person who would greatly enjoy a game of leap frog.

August 21, 2008 at 8:31 AM  

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