Gillian Hamel

March 28, 2009

how moths and lamps really work

there might actually be something beyond the light that is attractive. ‘all I need’ does not suggest this outright but something in there takes you in that direction, wondering how much the dark disturbs or if there’s a possibility of something afterward once you get out of it. I think I understand what you mean now. it’s not necessarily about being literal, when anything in your mind can easily be imagined or understood, like the last hour or so of Jaws.

if only I could stay here indefinitely,
and maybe you could be here too

research has shown that moths are really into television screens. certainly there is a source of light here but wouldn’t it be more romantic to assume that there was something beyond the casing, an image or even a concept that they desperately seek and crawl frantically all over the screen or just sit there, transfixed, hoping to pass through like the man with the baseball bat in the well, trying as he was to find their wife or rename some unknown person, an essential solution hiding just out of reach or in some labyrinth of projected colours, wouldn’t it be so much better to think that was the case instead?

I should probably go sleep on the couch. no, I’ll do it. it’s your bed. no, I’ll take the couch. I have to still be kind of a gentleman.

I felt the pull in your car, some dark shape interfering with nearly rural lamplight, all those old drives in beautiful cars and light stretched out in spears through frosted window alternating trees, wearing a pretty nice jacket and I felt the pull. there are all kinds of casings, plastic, glass, synthetic fibers needed to remove, I knew this was only a growing problem. everything wanted turns out to be a problem but doesn’t that first moment just make it worth it, the idea of it, the concept behind the source of the light that may be darker and smaller and more rough on the face, it seems like it’s completely worth it.

well, shit. how long have you felt this way? then I woke up one morning and I realised and I was like ‘fuck.’ and I thought it would be one of those absence-makes-the-heart-blah-blah things where it would settle down and go away, like I would see you when I got home and it would be anticlimactic and okay but I opened the door


shut up.

I forgot my iron lung today

at the end of your tether it was easy to see everything perfect and horrible about this situation, as if each move and muscular strain, those balances that make you feel like a man, reflects my brain’s every registered discomfort, a constant or looped heart attack in a central nervous rather than circulatory system but that too, when we’re on the same rope.

hey, I want to apologise. you must feel like I tease you relentlessly.

it brings out the worst things and really makes you wish you were just as immoral as anyone else who’s fooled around, who doesn’t give a shit what is on the other end of their grabbing hands but keeps on reaching, whatever may be deficient though it’s far too simple to pin the blame on that alone. whatever you’re missing is not all that much and hardly equivalent to breaking up what has obviously lost its solid ground, leaving the actual cause to maybe unfortunate circumstance and misdirection in the parts of the head that sympathise, which may be all gone at this point. none of these people are necessarily part of a revolution or lost in depraved fantasies thereof. they are not black holes of morality and attachment, or why would they even pursue any particular person? they are just people who have fucked up. precisely how far the aftershock of that initial fuck-up extends is the determiner.

Please don’t tell on me.

recycled jokes don’t make you any less funny, whatever I may tell people. the same aspects of myself retold again and again only strengthen the inclination to complete my project, just like the first time. I know I’m supposed to go up. you have no idea how much I would like to go up. every time with my hands and feet, pulling a muscle or tearing open the surface of my hands, feeling a barrier on my tenuous balance going to where if you can just get there you’ll be safe forever, off the impossible brick, the relieving final place you can barely hold on to and how on earth am I going to get down, not least out of doors where it was glorious to stand back and watch and be twelve years old again, understanding and not how it works, how they barefoot make it look so easy, I really do understand how directions work, your own specific course that you feel forced to follow when the number of ways you could not do that are simply staggering. I think I really get all of that once I go up there. I sometimes wonder if that’s why it’s done.

so I found this note. did you now?

every night spent there you try to do it and you just can’t, not least in present company. it was even there for about a minute and a half, your hands even went into the pile and onto things you were saving yourself, impractically kept in mind for that alone, and at the last you chickened out and now in daylight, no, you still wish you’d done it. you have no idea why you didn’t do it. it makes perfect sense that you didn’t do it, because that was the proper thing to do, but if it wasn’t? upside down without the help of magnets or left out in a chair all night is gone and will never happen again and you blew it, didn’t you. either way you fucked it up and there’s no going back.

I think, in light of the contents, I should plead the fifth.

carrying a torch which incidentally you left at home today will be almost suspiciously difficult, but it’s worth it if you ever get the guts. anybody’s done something stupid when drunk. as drunk as he gets, it seems he’s never done anything stupid. whatever was previously thought and recorded anywhere, or reported to any person who doesn’t remember either, I never thought he was stupid. I end up liking everyone who I think is stupid. it’s not a personal thing, as why I end up liking people, but my first impressions are indeed wrong and a bad one is a promising thing. things working backwards are a sure sign that, like counting, everything is going to be okay, when it sounds like it isn’t. I never said I didn’t love you.

so really, though, what does that mean? it means whatever you… oh, fuck it. it means I really, really want you.

the important thing is that you tried

the darker side is the better side, the side that turns the other cheek and raises a hand instead holding or playfully hitting anything, if never tied down below the lap or pinched between the teeth so much the better. we should definitely hang a sheet and watch a movie. the darker side is the one you would really want, despite conflicting interests, either way it makes infinite more sense that you would want to see the black and scruff of fewer years which were never even an issue, more that they weigh so much less on a juvenile frame and you understand that it’s okay to be unhappy about things, manageably. it was never an issue with him.

I’m really, really glad that we’re friends.

at that moment she had to let go of his hand. it was a horrible thing to do and broke them in various places but the breaking that would happen otherwise was too much to bear. I can no longer hold all of your things in my two hands. any kind of off-kilter melody or frustrated picking confirms this, the sounds that each of us make, mutually despised. these replace words that should not be spoken. there are things we have agreed not to say and to the death I will honour that, however much anyone may disagree; it’s healthy, I can say that, that’s enough.

so, in a parallel universe where I didn’t just start to have that conversation with you…

the breaking sound is loudest in the early morning. I go around and I try not to break things, diffused in the dark and shuffling around they’re more quiet, and here and there something falls. I set up my own non-divergent conceptual loops each time. whatever I’ve let inside stays as well and I try not to break even those, anything falling that I can’t catch when the loop breaks and swirls off into empty glasses and any of the lightest, freest flying fish words make their way forward, all these break and other things in their own way, running without referents they still find something to sync up to.

and so, are you going to do anything about this? well… because I really think you should.

whatever I haven’t said yet won’t be hard to find. I don’t make myself hard to find as a rule, though blanketed under at least three kinds of vests that I keep even closer, but if he can find it — and he can find most things — you can find it. maybe you can’t find it. someone else might find it for you and tell you. not even the epistolary ‘you.’ and as an epistolary him remains so do I keep that image in front when something is behind me, anybody, almost a prop as anything else. even if it’s that we’ve all been props to each other at some time, there will come a time when I actually want to hold each and every one of your hands.

I can’t stand to hear things by word of mouth.

it was truly strange, and so alive, as if I was awake

what seemed important were zippers. were you mentioning them, repeatedly, anything they opened and closed and what was on top of them, most importantly where my hands would go rough and teasing, going and striking tumultuously. the dark of apartments, leaving places not or formerly my own at night, and secret maps that smelled of your house or anyone’s a minimum of twenty years ago.

so, instead of dealing with that, I’m here getting drunk. yeah, I mean, just solve all your problems by drinking.

or of stairwells, adobe white and dirty suggestive, apprehension of any kind of lurking just outside of the door beyond the bale of light that neither you nor your vehicle were responsible for, knowing however what was waiting for me. at some point, in some place I became aware that you were waiting for me. knowing at some point what was not going to come, and that you didn’t know you were waiting for me, that same street I now know was the one constantly hearing you from thousands of miles away, all snaked in a series of tubes and wires and weakest signals not even reaching me, that never reached me until I came home, and that street was waiting for me too. the maps were at the top and still at the bottom, abandoned at the top though I could look at them whenever I wanted.

no, I mean, you gotta start somewhere.

in the room where we kept the maps any pairs of people waited on the floor, who I didn’t know or forgotten I had known, or still knew, waiting to take their turn on the maps and a kind of collaborative effort as well. the maps were still darker than I had ever remembered. things you never knew, or forgot, or repressed, most likely in the most obviously sinister way, explored in the back merging with others forgotten and now recollected, but running together these were so distinctly dark and obvious. clearly a bad memory and hidden between your teeth for this or that many years, just now taken out of context and into a finally logical setting.

right? I just have to do something.

and after all this and the stairs and coming back home in the dark I went back even further still, upstairs again a greener way or actually grey, greener at the last but actually purple, well it was green then. I brought you with me and I guess I had to take you back, you wouldn’t think so but your cargo made it so. describing a corset and easier but looser entry, a rougher push on the chest and kinds of white that I hadn’t even thought of. at least three whites, layered, I wanted to get under them even as you joked about doing it because you wouldn’t. it wasn’t a question of whether you wanted to. at the last when things were fuzzier, lost, now fully taken out of context to things I hadn’t prepared for, there was absolutely no question at all.

and some people reacted to it much more positively.

hamelGillian Hamel’s poetry has been published by The Trainwreck Union and in Sorry IV Snake. She has also given editorial assistance for fellow writers, local publishers, and the grammatically impaired. She currently works transcribing interviews and news reports on the misdeeds and shenanigans of America’s financial institutions, and will begin pursuing an MFA in creative writing at St. Mary’s in the fall.

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