Before I knew pain, I’d observe love songs and siphon their heartbreak, fictionalized or not. I wore headphones as I made prints in the high school darkroom—I aimed my camera at boys who would not look directly at me, that was a degree of longing that could not be taught. I was alone with the chemicals and red light. The paper was white, then suddenly, it was them.
Inventory #627: Brown throw pillow
REGARDING SMALL BEDS IN BIG ROOMS
When today ended, I put a dollar bill underneath your pillow. It was one of my last dollars but now there is a sense of wealth—a feeling that our sleep is secret, oil under dirt, waiting. I go on as usual, I do five things at once and I do all of them medium well. I sleep with my back to the window for good luck.
Inventory #626: Fur coat
Can true love be a muse? Can home? I’m afraid to step outside, so I keep opening and closing the door and making engine sounds, I keep falling in love and looking directly into the noon sun, I keep spending my nights in the basement looking for that misplaced thing among the oil paintings, no one lives down here except the landscapes and the words I used up and my nights, almost gone.
Inventory #625: Beige silk scarf
Fill a suitcase with your best traits. Is there still room? Fill a heart with limbs. Still? Room for more love, that’s what I always say to my blank pages. I passed a lightbulb factory and grew hot with ideas. I was a pen name, barely written. I was a house on a hill, lit up, removed.
Inventory #624: Blue hair ties
Talk over me, leave, dump your shipwrecked boat in Baltimore, see if I care. The women we’d both loved—that was a competition disguised as conversation. Was I winning? She and I went to the top of a bridge and stood on our toes, made ourselves the tallest girls there. I talked about her for weeks like she was mine.
Inventory #623: Double-sided eye pencil
REGARDING A MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
I saw a horse on the beach and pointed my flashlight at its ribcage. It was wild, made wilder every second by the storm. The words I built in the sand kept washing away and I was happy to see other lungs, I was ready to ride anywhere. I dreamt you finished your book. It was a good dream.
Reading tonight in Washington, DC with Adam Wilson, Priyanka Joseph, K. Lorraine Graham, and Kyle Coma-Thompson.
Inventory #622: Bronze eyeshadow palette
Clean like evidence, sealed off like a crime scene, I’d like to be a court document—available by request. I will pour myself into boxes, I will be released. Some day.
Inventory #621: A Picture and a Poem, 2013
REGARDING MAGIC WOMEN
They live indoors but dream of extremes, they fall in love with the idea of snow, they throw themselves at maps until they know which way is north. Seeing them outdoors is similar to the pleasure of blood returning to a limb. Wake up, I whisper to them, asleep in the garden again. Their bad habits are forgivable but smell like dirt. I lead them inside and make them clean.
Inventory #620: Yellow and blue stationery set
When our story stopped writing itself, I wrote to you, Today I made eye contact with a hawk sitting on a red light. I thought of myself as the humble narrator, but I was not humble, I curated beauty out of a self-serving desire to keep you. My caution burned like a tattoo and did turn out to be permanent. I walked around bumping into people with my soft edges, nothing stuck. If you fall in love with a magic woman, be prepared—she will not resemble me.
Inventory #619: Pioneer by Monica Wendel
I don’t know why we did what we did except that someone else wrote it. And since it was already written we were free.
Inventory #618: Nylon garter belt
My odometer got rusty so I threw it in the water. Didn’t fix it. But I have a good sense of time, I am in tune with time, I lick my finger and hold it in the air to feel time’s direction, time’s hot breeze. I felt betrayed, so I drowned all my sunburnt machines. Pretty soon we’ll all swim laps in the pool. Pretty soon we’ll all be the same level of smart. I’ll reach out to you and you’ll reach back.
Inventory #617: Camcorder case
REGARDING ADDING UP
One day goes unnoticed. Then another. If only we could all be so lucky, so undocumented. I took a fiction class in college with a guy that had been on a reality show—we’d seen him stepping off a bus with only his clothes and a catch phrase. I don’t know if he won anything or if the show even offered a prize. He was just there grinning and, a year later, wrote notes on my manuscript about reliable narrators and my lack of them. He’d lived more than we had. We knew that.
Inventory #616: Niceties: Aural Ardor, Pardon Me by Elizabeth Mikesch
REGARDING A MARRIAGE
She proposes herself to the state. She stares deep into herself in the microwave while the soup spins around. Our chore is being good and bringing keys along. That’s adding up the home we can’t get back.
Inventory #615: Black shirt
I fell back and was caught but could not open my eyes—who saved me? Does it matter? Trust is a luxury that comes with the safety of some lives, I am one species but lean towards another. Evolution, you lovely thing, I could bet all my money on you in a dark alley on a movie set and never win and be happy.