I looked through the window

from the darkened bedroom into the murky morning outside. Instead of looking down from the second story into the small courtyard below, there was now a roof top obscuring my view. It was a living roof, with regularly spaced  mounds of earth planted with grasses, not yet grown in, or dying off for the winter. Underneath the roof was a sort of pergola, also covered in half-grown, half-dead vines. This state of  new growth, halted prematurely for a wintry death, perhaps not planted with enough attention to the season. She built these things in the backyard of my childhood. Adhoc and browning, roofs without walls. These changes to the landscape of my childhood, the view from my old bedroom window.


There were old campers, the kind I’d like to fix up and to clean. I was to ride in the caravan of campers back to you. Upon entering though, they were so old and rotting and I was to ride in them as they were. I wished I’d found a bathroom before getting on the camper. The space seemed unfit even for the excretion of waste. I had four dogs and a baby and tried to look after them during this transit. I bathed the dogs. As I ran my hand through their wet, soapy fur, I saw their pink skin, usually covered but now exposed. I thought of my son’s beautiful face, pictured it to try to recall joy.


You rolled around on the bed absently, your eyes never focusing. Yet you clutched at her with familiarity. You spoke, to me and to no one simultaneously, explaining that everything people said about you or said that you’d done was untrue, but I knew that you were lying. I stood there watching from the foot of the bed. You thought things were ok, that they were going according to plan. You were jovial as you spoke, as was your way, perhaps a tell I’d never fully realized that marked a profound and intractable self-deceit.


You rolled around on the bed, back and forth, clutching with eyes unfocused, grinning and lying.


Photos by Jung Lee, Robbie Lawrence, Aaron Blum

For @pleasuregardenmagazine


He wrote his name on a scrap of paper.

I thought maybe he would help me find my way around this desolate part of Nebraska. Or wherever it was. His hair was wispy and blond and maybe thinning, although he wasn’t old. He wrote “Andrew Closer” but the last name kept disappearing as he wrote it, or rather, transforming. It transformed into icons and I was afraid I would not be able to remember if the letters did not stay intact, but also found it remarkable that his name was Andrew, the same name as a friend of mine, and also was his last name “closer” as in, someone who ends something or was it instead a spatial relationship, was is someone near, or more near.  I knew that I probably wouldn’t see him again despite the fact that he’d helped us get away even at his own risk.  I think he boss owned an autobody shop of some sort, something seedy with dusty venetian blinds and flat carpeting. We were in the offices at night and gathering ourselves for the next part, although I don’t know what was next but this seemed to help us prepare none-the-less. It was done at night and in the dark and quietly to evade notice and Nebraska seemed flat and white and dusty and plantless.

It was some relief to end up in the other house in Washington state because of the foliage, even though the house itself was most likely rotting from moisture and the family had five children all traversing the flights of stairs to the small rooms on the different levels all nestled in the trees like a haunted story book and I was uneasy, but the trees were better than flat white space and at least gave the impression that there was more to it all perhaps because you couldn’t just see it all laid bare in front of you and there were corners around which you might at least hold out hope for something else and mystery is important even if it is horrible. Maybe this family lived in a tree house, but I suspect the house was older than they even suspected and also that they’d not been in all the rooms. I tried to follow all of the staircases and look at the different wallpapers.

It is tempting to begin with the setting.

I wonder how often that actually happens in writing. What that means cognitively. As if we have always recognized orientation to space as foundational to meaning, as the necessary underpinning to whatever may come. And is come the correct word, or issue? I suppose to be precise one must indicate whether it is a coming from or a coming to, and yet what of coming next? All of these seem quietly significant. They are background – notions that mostly go easily along without being considered, but belie all sorts of allegiances, perhaps better left unexamined if one chooses an “active” life, in the parlance of the underground. But what of the background life? Shouldn’t one know what it means if they love the novel that sets the scene? Or if one’s first impulse upon sitting to write and describing that he is in NY, at a blackened table, cold to the touch. A wobbling teacup that is not actually a teacup but holds tea and matches the clay-slab-books some wrapped in paper and pine tar. Why does this orientation preface consideration of what belongs in a sealed box? Not only what belongs there, but treats the question as if there are correct answers. Not to say that there are not infinite answers, but a specific infinite, one that is less than the alternative infinite which would include anything that fits in the box. It is important to consider the world that defines the box-content this way. It is not unlike consideration of the cat as alive or dead. And it is the consideration of background- any number of things could be, but not anything. The content of the box is undeniably different if the box is opened or unopened. In a simple analysis, it is either known or unknown. The quality of that difference is more important than the technical attributes. If books are solid, there is no inside or it is all inside, and if a box is full, but you must destroy it to discover the contents, what is gained and what is lost? There is undoubtedly another box inside the box, only it probably doesn’t look like a box and so one might assume he is finished with opening things. There is something to the impenetrability of solid books. Something to the undifferentiated solid space. Something to the homogeneity of all the books. Is that more accurate than a sealed box? There is only theory in sealed boxes. I suspect it require more than opening the box to transform the theoretical, although I can’t say I know what that requirement is.


If you never see these things again, there will be a part of you, something real, that will be gone, despite the extraordinary insignificance of these things. They are spaces in memory and meaning that can only be filled by their unique shapes and mass. In sealing them up, knowing they may so easily be disregarded, discarded, it proves difficult. I have committed to them for so long and now I am committing to their absence. It is an absence, that as with memory, once it is gone, it is gone forever. These are mummy boxes because they are packed for a true death. I won’t remember them, and I won’t ever feel the things they conjure outside without being reminded by their presence. In this way, the absence is more pronounced. I am preparing to forget.