by S. Brook Corfman
Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth:
I once was a man who tried to be sad but found it difficult. I was once a woman who had more success. An everyday malaise, a balloon without the air. I would go to the French patisserie down the street and sit there, thinking, "is this sadness?" and then, later, "is this?"
Once upon a time we were twins and we were two and there were two of us. We didn't know difference except that there was one.
Once upon a time we let each other cut in lines, we rained from different clouds on the playground, we had to be separated.
We spoke our own language but don't remember it.
We say we are identical and the new faces are confused, they think we are both male, they say we only look enough alike to be brothers. At a certain point we do not bother to correct them.
Every time I try and fly away I end up here, in the bath, as if I can be clean. As if a bath were made of cups, mugs, of bowls—unique, similar, filled with water, too many to move without spilling them all across the floor.
The doctor says there are only three parts of a human form that need soap, that the water clears away other dirt. I never believe doctors. I never wrinkle, the osmosis of it all is confusing. Either water can clean the oil that makes me waterproof, and so can clean the oily parts of me, or it cannot.
Once I thought instead to run away to a circus, watched a tightrope walker walk up the taut rope's incline. She slipped down the wire no thicker than a wisp, no net and only the wand for balance, her hope that if she fell and waved it would break her fall. I wanted her steadiness, but when she slipped I gasped, she paused, and I knew if I slipped I would gasp at myself and fall.
Sometimes I think about putting all of the money into a beach house, or a row of them, and we could all live there and walk into the ocean whenever we wanted. We wouldn't be underwater all the time but could watch the water instead, and go into it when we wanted to, and choose how far up our bodies we wanted it to reach. But of course, the waves. There is always the chance of an undertow. And does a chance seem better than a certainty, that you might not be swept away and dashed upon the rocks? A winding, a leap from a pebbled pier. I was one way of entering. A body of water was another.
When destiny and I got lunch, he reminded me that I am always choosing violets, that only my mother knows how to garden and when she goes the snow drops will be dead.
She planted a peach tree that died alongside one future, and it was beautiful without leaves, hung with metal rings.
I'm undoing the brightness, breathing through it toward shapes that become distinct. When I touch this point in the air a door opens, and I can never fall asleep while I'm looking through it.
Do you love me, and what would you do for it? There's a calm surface to hold your breath under, if you've trained yourself to do so. When pain feels like failure, just because you've lasted this long doesn't mean you will the next time. Two stark landscapes, one the mountains over a frozen lake as clouds move rapidly, the other a field and a green hill above a pond in which a car has crashed, sinks. It's all silent and the wind blows the cobwebs away, the wind someone's breath, she swims away and this austerity is unbroken. Her eyes are open. Mountains are not sharp but rugged, messy, shifting and breaking into gravel every minute. Right now they are sleek. Cloud shadows pass, shapes that can be other than their projections. Not me, not mine.
You said there was a sequence but no story. Aren't I doing better? I'm making my own standards and judging them. I wasn't there in the car, it was one moment without me. As you said, progress. A slow unrolling of a carpet across dirt, a pristine blue muddying. Not an inevitable outcome. I wondered what I would remember and what I would forget, bringing the water with me everywhere even though I am always swimming away from it. It is like running from air—which, of course, would lead you to the lake.
"No, no, not even angst, I, desolate, feeling. A costume only I will know. Maybe.
"My words will give a certainty, to be fulfilled within his own body.
"Is that really possible?
"Filled with buried deep inside is once he finds is I am not of course
"not their child
"filled with retreat, return I pick one up I am depressed the captive what a gift is
"I imagine I pick it is written with me I feel the sense of betrayal to find relief
"I go to a psychiatrist overlooking the carpets seeking affirmation we look for a new mistake
"I never let that pass I correct them I correct them I correct them I carefully instruct I give up
"I think more I am getting ready in first grade I try not to ask
"He has stopped wearing his skirt in the daytime."
S. Brook Corfman is a poet who writes plays, living in a turret in Pittsburgh. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, the Indiana Review, HEArt Online, Ghost Proposal, and in Quarterly West, where it was nominated for the Best of the Net. Twitter handle: @sbrookcorfman