(Originally appeared on VIII Nothing.)
I am riding my bicycle by a Texas highway at night. The moon is out and the wind is cold. From the other side of the bridge I can make out the clock tower in the distance—pointed and looming and lit up by the color of blood. I think about the night we said it was ours. I had told her it was our midnight kingdom, and she was queen of the rosemary bushes. In the haze of some lonesome road I remember the Christmas lights hanging in her brain.
But time has passed and now I am alone again. Shadows leer and I hear laughter from some dark place. I close my eyes and dream in orange and purple. Once I was the Chemical Prince; tonight I am pale and depressed. At the end of my journey will be comfort and dim lighting. Between here and there I will love nothing but oxygen. In time there will be electric piano and the blood in my head and I’ll wish I could vanish into steam.
The only way I can tolerate it here anymore is to speed up and slow down the electricity in my brain. I pass a dead sparrow and hear a woman cough. No funeral for the sparrow. By morning it will rot under the sun unless some hungry thing finds it first.
A mile away there are oranges bleeding out in my yard. I had thrown them over the roof just to experience the joy of gravity. And the woman passing by with her baby had looked at me with hatred, saying, “You’re a danger to yourself.”
Across the street a family is watching a young girl play violin. Someone is seated at a grand piano. Boys are in the driveway tossing a ball around. They are outside experiencing a childhood while I am inside experiencing an adulthood. Weirdo of the neighborhood, I think; weirdo of the world.
Yes, and my mind whirls back to the Chemical Prince and his twelve hours of existence. Dead the next morning, awaiting resurrection. But then death is gone and I am no longer afraid of it. It had been conquered in my dreams.
Presently the room swirls and the ceiling lowers. Green walls and yellow lights. There is a creeping sensation in my throat and I remember the sweet smell of the rosemary bushes and how I had almost crawled inside of them. And then my mind flashes and I remember the night when we stood on the stump and watched the moon quiver in the sky. I wonder aloud if what had been was now a dead tree or a new log.
Someone nearby is talking but I can’t focus on the words. A guitar screams and the sound is light and silvery like a supersonic bullet to the brain. Earthworms in my heart and red in my eyes. I gaze out the window and the sky is black and dead. I wonder if I am tired of human voices and human faces or just plain tired. The moment passes and my vision darkens. In some quiet place a memory is born, but I burn it before it has a chance to breathe.