MAJOR ADJUSTMENTS WERE MADE TO THE SKY

 

1.
 
I made some major adjustments to the sky, after.  There was a span of him being here and him being mine and mine being his and me not entirely being me but he’s gone, and I don’t know if it’s permanent, but with him he took away my certainty so now I’m not even sure who I am.  I’m still his.  Maybe I’m his woman, maybe I’m his man.  Maybe I have a name, maybe I don’t.  I do have arms, two of them, and with him gone the sun was wrong, the night was wrong, everything was wrong, every last thing crooked and bent, so I had to make adjustments, I adjusted myself into what I think’s called repose, might be called diminishing returns, I adjusted myself so other people were as strange to me as I was strange to myself, I made major adjustments to everything, including the sky, the sky we stood in the field and kissed underneath, that infinite-seeming canopy of space and light and nitrogen that was our sky, and I was making major adjustments so I went and did it, I made major adjustments to the sky.

Maybe it’s 1927, maybe it’s 1957, maybe it’s 1992, I don’t know, I don’t trust years anymore, years or centuries, I stopped the grandfather clock in the living room, the grandmother clock, I stopped the grandmother in my living room and stood there arms-folded and astonishingly sinewy and I watched my grandmother not move, I watched the clock not pass, and I thought to myself, yes, this is correct.  The passage of days may be unstoppable but add up to nothing but shrugs of seasons.  I made adjustments to time, I made adjustments to seasons, I made my face blank and tried to stop the cramps shuddering around in me and took the sky and pulled it closer, lower, more cloudy, more humid, more of a blanket you can hide under than a forest you get lost in, I made some adjustments to everything, I made some adjustments to the tired sun, the difficult moon, the sky.

Maybe I have a name, but maybe I don’t care what it is.

2.

“Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks.  Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her.  All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.”  (Lamentations 1:2)  This is not the kind of thing where chewing on tree bark makes a difference, where a compress makes a difference, a blood test, a penis, a vagina, she’s weeping bitterly and it’s night and she’s a man and my head is between my legs so I can look at nothing in particular and slowly separate the strands of what I’m forgetting from why I’m drowning, going under so slowly that I never actually die, that he never does, that she never does, night is permanent and bitterness is permanent and she weeps bitterly.  She had no friends so now, she has no enemies except what’s in the mirror that’s his, that’s hers, that’s neither his nor hers.  The bible says “The LORD has brought her grief because of her many sins,” but grief is a special occasion, a kidney punch, and this is just a Thursday, a day where you buy groceries and forget to put them away, a day in which grief isn’t possible because confusion crowds it out.  Confusion crowds grief out because it has no form or volume so all, including grief, is lost.  Gone.  Except a few unnameable internally lit things like how the tongue in my mouth glows white at night.  But he’s still gone.

3.

He’s gone.  I know for sure he’s gone, but I don’t know whether I’m gone too.

4. 

I told them, “Tell my love how much I miss him when he’s gone,” but that means human communication would be a bridge but human communication is not a bridge, it’s a field of firecrackers, it’s heavy rain in an empty town square where the granite statue of the general nobody has heard of faces the wrong way and gets ignored by everyone except the guy who comes Monday mornings and cleans off the bird shit.

I don’t know if blood and tears and shit are relevant or appropriate.  I still believe in them, though, I believe that blood and tears and shit are real, are nameable and quantifiable, but I rearranged everything, I made adjustments, so I don’t know if they’re mine.  My cousin told me absence is like grief but I don’t know if this is absence, because the longer and longer he’s gone the harder it is to prove he was ever here or may now be elsewhere, and the longer I am here alone and seasonless and barefoot the less it is I might still be his woman, or his man, his bear rug, his unadorned doorway, his final destination, his satisfaction, his rhyme.  I’m here alone and multipartite or nothing, but a ghost is not nothing, a ghost both does and does not take up space, I let him go because he said he had to, but what I didn’t know is how he’d pull hard and take the whole world along with him, including me, and here I am in the yeard rubbing my left foot on the gravel and adjusting my hat and writing in my book, just like I write everyday, a thousand different cursives, I write not all forms of waiting are useful, not all forms of waiting are klieg lights, not all forms of waiting are mine.

5.

“The enemy laid hands on all her treasures; she saw pagan nations enter her sanctuary––those you had forbidden to enter your assembly.”  (Lamentations 1:10)

I still don’t know exactly what alone is supposed to mean.  To me.  Alone or underneath or overrun.  I hide my thoughts in my head and my milk in my heart and I walk with two feet.  I’m neither the man nor the woman you used to know, though I’m still not a sinner, unless being alive counts.  I don’t think just being alive counts for much at all.

I’m not your woman, I’m not your man.  Forget me, erase me, draw me an exit sign.

6.

The story lay in how he had to go and I had to stay and so both of us were left to bite knuckles and whistle off-key though he was the only one actually moving.  “Tell my love how much I miss him when he’s gone.”  And I know, I know, I know it to be true that he can really sing, sometimes I hear his vacancy yelling from deep in the pines, sometimes I consider the pines, sometimes I don’t, sometimes I consider the pines a companion, but pines are plural and I am more halves than make a whole even with him gone and not a roman candle, not Safety First, so pardon me if I slowly forget what it is that upsets me so much.  Unless I’m not even upset and this is theatre, the theatre of protest, this may be a small riot or a tall-grass meadow on fire again or maybe I am just sad, if that means something.  If there’s no way to explain or describe it, it might not even exist, which is why I’m not sure I exist.  Most of me.  Some of me.  Far off and up close in greater or smaller amounts.

7.

“Tell my love how much I miss him when he’s gone.”  Maybe me, the remnants, maybe this is Arkansas, maybe Louisiana, maybe Tennessee.  I know it’s south of something like I know I’m south of something, and he probably didn’t go north, he probably ended up in Mississippi, my love, my remote viewer, my human calendar.  I hate him for being able to exist elsewhere, but I only hate the part of him that can exist, and maybe he’s not even alone, never was, doesn’t recognize the entrance, wanders where the crowd wanders and gathers all the golden coins that fall.  I love him for being mine but I hate him for being a maybe, a perhaps, an eventually.  I don’t have time day after day to watch night blur the horizon into darker and just dark.  I don’t have a center.  I don’t have time for whichever kind of medication––pill or liquid.  I used to be a person when I was his, a woman or a man, naked or buried, now I don’t know, now I think maybe I’m just a small cloud of colored smoke that won’t disperse, against rearranged white sky it’s not purple or silver, it’s bloodshot-eye red.  It’s nothing, and it won’t budge.

8.

I’m not an orchestra.  I’m not his orchestra.  I’m not even a large and dimly-lit auditorium.  Not anymore.

9.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?  Look around and see.  Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of fierce anger?  From on high he sent fire, sent it down into my bones.  He spread a net for my feet and turned me back.  He made me desolate, faint all the day long.”  (Lamentations 1:12-13)

10.

Tell my love how much I miss him when he’s gone.  Tell my love how much I miss him when he’s gone.  Tell my love how much I miss him when he’s gone.


Tell my love how much I miss him when he’s gone.

11.

I made major adjustments to more than just me and the natural world.  I made adjustments to the natural world because the natural world is not a gift, it’s a warning, a lurker, a reminder.  An unclean embrace.  The sky lurks, the pines lurk, the gravel lurks, and if there were sea here it would lurk too.  I made adjustments to myself because adjustments needed to be made, were going to be made, and I could either be passive or active.  Man or woman.  Human or animal.  I am an animal, I made adjustments to my animal, I am neither domestic nor wild, I am neither too close nor far enough away.  Under me is the ground; I walk on it.  Sometimes skip, sometimes run.  Sometimes biped and sometimes “on all fours” if “on all fours” is metaphor for “maybe I am lost, I don’t know if I am lost, but maybe I am lost.”  I don’t need anybody’s signature, I don’t need anybody’s dotted line.  I got my own adjustments to make, I got my own story, my story doesn’t have an ending other than death but I don’t think that far ahead, I think buckets and chairs.  Sometimes I’m moonshine and sometimes I’m just moon.

There is a story, my story, our story, his story, some stranger’s story stolen and halfway erased, but there is a story.  There has to be a story because there was a beginning and now there’s a middle, implying plot, characters pure question mark.  Village idiots and lonely animals.  There are characters, the him that’s gone and the me that might not be gone, or not yet, not sure if you can be gone if there’s nobody and nowhere to depart from.  Maybe I got the wires tangled.  I got the story wrong.  But there is a story, and I don’t know how it ends, whether he’ll come back or whether he won’t, whether he knows how much I miss him or whether he does not, whether I am here or I am gone.

There is probably a story, and it might be my story, and the most important thing about my story is that it’s lurking, that it’s hidden behind.  Behind what I don’t know, but sometimes I’m hidden behind too, I made adjustments to behind, to near, to far, to revelation, autonomy, discovery, wilderness, lust.  I made adjustments to alone.  I made adjustments to how and when and why.

12.

Maybe something happened.  You never know.


13.

My alone got adjusted to mean I never am because memories are corporeal if you can embellish them with crimson and silver thread, embroider them just like I did his heart, or my heart, I’m not sure.  My alone got adjusted such that I can pick the damn thing up and hide it under the front porch.  I kick my alone; it doesn’t dent.  My heart got adjusted so that it’s as warm or as cold as the weather, as is my blood, and what I know to be true is that after spring comes summer, after summer comes fall, after fall comes winter, and after winter comes another winter.  But I made adjustments to my brain so now I know how to build a fire.

14.

I made major adjustments to the future.  There are no longer any lightbulbs there.


Nicholas Rosenfeld Grider is the author of the story collection Misadventure (A Strange Object) and a chapbook forthcoming under an assumed name from Imipolex Press. His work has appeared in Caketrain, Conjunctions, DIAGRAM, Guernica and elsewhere, and he lives in Milwaukee, where he's a pre-med student.