Monday, November 8, 2010

They call it writer's block

but all you can think of are stacks of alphabet blocks, towers of them tumbling from their wobbly height: there goes E; R; T! There goes the raw solitude of sitting criss-cross applesauce alone in the clean silence of your bedroom. You were a child once. You played with the alphabet, spelling in a sloppy row, not really knowing how to spell, trying out your mama's name. Do you remember your own pink, fat, two-year-old fingers? Fat smudgy fumblers. Somewhere, probably in the dim far away cave of the living room, your parents hissed and grimaced. You built your trembling ABC towers. You just kept piling them up. Little baby alphabet-carpenter. A humid breeze pushed through your window, told you the world's strange secrets. Strange secrets, ninety-four degrees.

It is different now. Those secrets wrapped and hung your ribcage, green and serpentine, years years ago. You learned them all by heart, by degree. Now you are thirty-two and the blocks are smaller, duller. You sit criss-cross applesauce on a wooden chair in front of your typewriter. The chair sags--the years have promised nothing. Still the alphabet eludes you and trembles at its great height. Careful primaries: A--B--C. You keep the letters in absolute order. The jungle breeze hits you differently, a thick hot hand on your cheek. Traffic jams your nerves. The endless shimmer of metal-to-metal clogs your moody arteries. Still your fingers do things without you--they are thin now, sore and pink as ballerinas, invasive and shaky; anorexic maybe. One is necklaced by a wedding ring. It winks at you sweetly. Monkeys breed and stomp in your heart. Words swing from tree to tree, evasive and screaming---your typewriter waits like a patient wife, a clot of letters and symphonies right there under you: only air between your fingertip and the faded L key. How do you spell the words for it hurts; I can't breathe; my god, stop talking? How do you know their bright, special colors? How do you cry in a different language; keen in silence; get down the iambic of grownup savagery?

These days you type from a different country; you watch the sun rise like nuclear citrus. There is nothing between you and the alphabet: nothing but the salt-burn of A to Z.