For Nick

 

(Published in LAGNIAPPE by Nick Santos-Pedro, X Marks the Bokship, 2009)

 

This is a new development.

My work until now was calculated and technophilic, and in a way innocent: Lately it seems I want to write only about love.

Perhaps I know where this comes from.

The streets—those engines of stories—pump out streams of absence that swirl and return in cycles (that eddy) and accumulate as uneven ballast. I begin to tend, I begin to repeat.

I.

My city is not even my city. My city is experienced in transit and in dialects. Continuity eventually produces me as a being with a namethe beginnings of a habitatbut I cannot imagine building a life in my city. It is too much effort. Fantasies in my city are practical, functional equations. They measure distances between points, schedules and social classes. I find it hard to dream in my city. 

II.

Yet I allow you a city. When I wander through your city I get to imagining how you would move about this place, where interactions happen, the gatherings and celebrations, how would you go home with someone and who you’d avoid on the way there; in your city I imagine how different generations coexist and what skills you would need to be successful there; what tradition would dictate, which areas you would steer clear of, how public would your life be and how would you dress? To see someone’s home empowers that native, the inhabitant, the knower, the master, the one with bonds and family; your person becomes filled out, strictly without your presence. Your image, to me the visitor, is given reason; the factors that form a personality become visible within the construct, and you are God-like, Nature-like, so dominant and impressive compared to the one I thought I knew, isolated and plucked from your context, as you were.  

III.

In a city where I know nobody and nobody who has ever lived there, bodies appear randomly. Someone just exists for that moment our paths cross. I am desperate to understand how the young people meet each other and start relationships, but everything is pre-determined. Faces host neither normal nor aberrant expressions; they are simply locked to their surroundings. The shopping malls where I become aware of these ‘people’ have erected spontaneously, only moments ago, like complex mushrooms.  

This is no encyclopaedia. I can imagine countless permutations; I can imagine the possibility that there are no singular locations and no singular individuals who come from them to tease another with their secrets. Or another possibility: Where on my register is the scenario of following someone to Texas, out of ardour, only to end up working in a gun shop? I am a beginner, and still quite old-fashioned; I leave it to the poets to report back to me.