"Ah yes, we seem to be more than one, all deaf, not even, gathered together for life."
"... what elsewhere can there be to this infinite here?"
from Texts for Nothing by Samuel Becket
Gathered, there is more than one of us, we are not gathered, we meet in cars. The
group gathered, we each on our spots doing nothing. We talk, we don't talk, we ask,
"Are you in there?" we've said this thousands of times. I'm in here. He's in there,
don't go in there, don't go out there, come on, don't go, sit down, shut up, right,
tell me something, don't.
I tread my path back and forth through the noise of electricity and shock to the refrigerator
to rearrange. This is home to be startled and suffocating, all windows shut, a sealed
capsule. How we've gotten to the spot, we've forgotten the rest. Though I think of
the other, he died off, went poof, we don't speak of, except at the table, on the
couch we sound out letters to the name that was his. Those others with foreign accents,
I put here somewhere, but now far off, I went off, I forget, they send messages, they
don't send, but we think, we imagine them, we don't know their lives. We pray, we
know, we don't know the idiosyncrasies, they're a topic in a nutshell.
I go to my room and take his place the one who went poof, he couldn't bear it, neither
can I. He was always in his room. We reminisce about days at church, and lie, each
a particular and smile and clink wine glasses, the bottle is empty now. It is a ritual.
A new bottle will come. We change clothes and mention this in conversation, or speak
of hours slept, our weight, kidney pain. I have no pain I lie over and over to add
variety. The father kept putting a hat on me in my dreams, but it never fit so he
now pats my cheek and leaves it at that. It is the hat, it is more than the hat, this
is nothing. He measures his body fluids daily, with a scale, an old clipboard, some
plastic tubes. The mom helps, clipboard and she puts the pencil to her tongue. He
depends on the machinery, as his father was good with tools, an artisan. Where are
the birds, I inquire politely, and remember Nana, one leg missing, a canary in a cage,
she'd tap the one foot, but these birds are wild outside birds. I see them through
The one with rings sits on the couch, extends her legs across cushions in her nighty,
she takes the mom's place who brings toast so she needn't move a muscle. "Don't move
a muscle, I'll just spread some margarine on this toast for you, the kind your father
likes." Taking the place of grandmother and Nana bound to her chair, she with the
rings is now bound to the couch and maintains she likes it. I know she wants me dead,
she is dead and I tire of her and we make up.
The house has windows, I open, they lock. A coming and going, a consumption of jarred
foods, some fresh produce, no produce. Now and then we open a can. Frozen meat from
the freezer. I once wanted this carpet removed, but don't say it more, I think it,
I don't even think it. The rooms all have windows smudged with a layer of dust and
we will pay someone to come in. Or simply sell when the corporations drill, when it's
The gatherings began 6o years ago, 60 years and going strong. Though it was another
house with windows and now I wonder, did we open them? A handful of houses all had
a few plants on ledges or a porch, all left un-watered, petals falling to wood, they
forgot over and over due to electrical interferences. This is my house, it is not
my house it is my home it is not home. I should vacuum or go wash this plate speckled
with crumbled toast.
I go to lock myself in my room and they leave synthetic things out, they put things
away, plastic straws. Get rid of the straws yourself, I think. They do, they huddle
around TV lights. It reminds me of labels. Dime store novels, a lady on the cover
in a nighty runs away from a big house, a dark man in boots doesn't look, or soap
operas we often smoked pot to. I think of the one who went poof, his mask stares at
us from a box on the wall, his artwork in the kitchen. I wonder when I can finally
join him but it is never. Severed at the root. I whispered to him once, he talked
back. Then he said, stop. I am going again. I am gone, he said. My sister with rings
wants me dead or silenced or to watch soap operas with a big reefer going back and
forth like then, or a game show? I lock myself in the room and find this unfair because
the view is better from the couch.
Boils appear on my buttocks, I dream peas grow on my thighs my body now void of fertility,
I am fertile, I did throw off a few with foreign accents in my prime. Two I bore,
one sucked out, I often forget this. I don't forget, I could care less. I leave this
place to lock myself in other rooms, I come back to hold their hands afraid there
is no one else. There is no one else, there is the one with rings, there is no one
else but me. They think I am not afraid, I am not afraid, I am so afraid I want my
brother or a lover but the rooms, the rooms I find everywhere. So I lock myself in
this room, I plan another escape. I am good at this. I look at trees through the window,
rock formations, wildlife, I think of the day when corporations come to drill and
what to do then and where to go then, but this here is infinite and follows me wherever.