Dear Author

Dear AuthorYou live a sort of life, or this thing you call life. Others expect you to call it life. I believe that is why we have a word for it. Words become words out of necessity. The necessity of a human being. A writer’s necessity. You live a life in which you are never quite sure if you are going up or down until the very last moment, until your very last breath is spent on recovering all those moments from the past you call memories. While you do that you realize that every recovered memory is inherently an apology first to yourself, then to all those who have touched you, and then, finally, to all those who have seen you at one point. Yes, even to those. Until you become yourself a walking apology. Have you ever thought of how an apology looks like? Behold the very flesh and bones of a walking apology. The books that you write are themselves apologies. You apologize and ask for forgiveness to your characters, for giving birth to them and then leaving them to linger in a sort of fictitious limbo until you sort your things out. Problems with your girlfriend or boyfriend, your computer has a nervous breakdown, your neighbor’s kid will not shut up. All of these happen while your characters are waiting there, anxious for something to happen, anything. They are just characters, you think at one point, masks; they are supposed to do that. Yet, what if they are not supposed to do that after all? What if we are characters ourselves waiting for our author to figure things out? Then you apologize to yourself and to your own past. We all know that in books the past comes out distorted, changed, and broken. One memory comes out eyeless, faceless, earless, and with all limbs broken. Apologize to that, your sincerity shall be appreciated if you will ever be forgiven, that is. Then you apologize to everybody else because their story too came out in your book, in between the lines. Keep in mind though that you will never be forgiven. That character, still waiting in that airport for the love of his life, will never forgive you. Could you not give him what he wants? Just a few words, a few sentences and he would live happily ever after. Yet your stubbornness and the fact that you yourself lived a life tell you that this is how the story goes, and that his happiness needs to be sacrificed. How could he forgive you for that? For denying him that ending. Ultimately, it is just a matter of words is it not? How could you sacrifice that happiness for the sake of the story? Your duty ends there, you think, at the end of the story. You are the almighty author after all. Somehow, you know that asking for forgiveness is futile, but you do it anyway thinking, hoping that at least one third of the guilt will vanish, just like that, with those two words that you write at the end. You refer to it sometimes as signing a contract by which the internal mechanism of the book is set into motion. What you do not realize is that those two words are like a death sentence to your characters, their sorrows relived with every reader. How could you, dear author, ask for happiness yourself? When your own happiness will be, at one point, sacrificed for the sake of the story?

The measure of all things

Copyright ©2011 Barbara Parmet. All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2011 Barbara Parmet. All rights reserved.

The pain is dragging me back. Silence is replaced once more by that buzzing sound. Everything is coming back now, the heaviness inside my body, the division, mitosis, multiplicity, cause and effect, result, responsibility, the world where everything should make sense and where ultimately nothing makes sense. Time is accelerating. I can hear it. Time is a sequence of beeps, time is a sequence of heartbeats even in the absence of a heart. There are other hearts that measure time in the absence of one’s heart. Time, in here, in this carcass that the others call a human body, is a series of heartbeats, repetitive heartbeats that become non-repetitive once they are consumed, rendered non-repetitive by what happens in between them because what happens in between them is not repetitive, the world only spins forward. An irregularity in the heartbeat is a step closer to complete silence, called death. If only thoughts could make a sound, a sound of any kind just to keep the silence out while the body collapses within itself like a house of cards. The world is measured in heartbeats. Just a few more heartbeats and I’ll be there. With every beep I’m one step closer to you. How many heartbeats are there in an hour? This room is 45 beats long. It is big enough to host two people. This room has only one window. The light coming from the window is painful. The pain extends itself up to an infinite number of heartbeats. Even though it has to have an end, this pain is infinite, the pain that I have to endure in your absence. The pain becomes pain at the back of the skull and from there it radiates, it oozes like oil on the floor, like the echo of everything, the echo of the city as it was heard from…from…from. The word is there but I cannot take a hold of it. There was a house, and you were in it. Was it really you or was it only a myth? I wonder. Even wondering is painful. It’s like running in winter on an endless field and your lungs start to ache, and your eyes start to ache, and everything starts to ache, and your body is a sort of accumulation of pain and the promise of relief as soon as the field ends, and there you should stop for a second and maybe look back. But looking back would only remind you of that pain so you keep on going, there is more relief just behind this hill, just behind this mountain, an oasis. I stop. I know this wondering will only take me back to you, to a sort of you.

Your beautiful abomination

Don’t stop this movement, let it consume itself smoothly as it should, slowly, let it flow beautifully like the glorious flight of a bird, don’t let it fade, because if it fades then everything will be lost, including you, my love, and I don’t want to lose you, I don’t even want to imagine that, I don’t want to experience it even if it’s for the sake of experience, let me stay here with you, five more minutes, five more minutes and I’ll go, I’ll leave my thoughts with you, I’ll leave my love with you, let this presence of mine linger a bit more around you. The car speeds down the highway, I hold my hand on you thigh, trying to feel the fullness of it, the things that make it the thigh of a human being. You’re there, and I want to make sure of that, I want to make sure that this is not just my lust gone mad, a hallucination which has occupied my mind for so long that I started to perceive it as a real thing. You’re squeezing too hard, you say, it hurts. I’m sorry, I say, and try to relax my fingers, make you feel comfortable with me around you. I’ve missed you so much, I say, even though we haven’t seen each other before this. You smile, I could feel the hesitation in you though I know it is a false hesitation, you’ve told me. Yes, you say, this is really strange, how can you miss something you haven’t seen before?
That’s true, how is that possible, since that which you miss has not occupied any space in your life then how can you even notice its disappearance?
But that does not matter now, I tell him, just give me a quick kiss. I lean over the chair and feel his wet lips on mine. That was so good, I tell him, could I have another one? Just be careful, he says, these kind of things can be dangerous while driving. Trust me, I tell him and lean over the chair again, this time with a smile, my eyes locked on the road. You reach out, your hand still timid, still the hand of a boy who’s too afraid to touch somebody other than himself, your flesh prepared to draw back suddenly like a scared animal. I can feel the warmth of your skin on my thigh, then the tightness, the pressure of your palm. A wave of tremors goes through my muscles. I take your hand in mine and kiss it as softly as I could then place it back gently on my thigh.
Don’t stop this flight, the emptiness, the great pleasure of finding you beside me, available, there, in that place, the closest place on Earth in this distance that stands between our two bodies, here, inside, there is nothing outside. Let me hold you. And you let me hold you, smiling, finally acknowledging my presence. I’m here to stay, I tell him. I know, he says.
Among these few lines there is a mistake, a word you thought of as something insignificant. It’s not. You’ll try to find it but it’s not there. My love, in this dialogue of ours we are both losing, it’s a lost bet since this love of ours is just the glorious architecture of my mind. Observe the lack of details, observe how everything has been reduced to the essential, how there is nothing else outside, how there are no other people, how it never rains, how it is never sunny, how everything seems like a limbo. There are no other human beings except what goes through my mind, except who goes through my mind, except you. And I’m so afraid, my love, afraid that we won’t be able to hold this world together by ourselves. I’m afraid that I won’t be strong enough to do it.
Could we at least try it, he says.
Yes, we can try it. Tell me what I have to do, and I’ll do it, even if it’s the most difficult thing in the world.
First, he says, act as if you love me.
I don’t need to act in order to do that, I tell him, I’ll just be myself, that will be enough.
No, he says, do as I tell you, act as if you love me, because then afterwards we’ll try something else.
What do I need to do in order to complete this request of yours, I ask him.
You have to take me out, buy me presents, take showers with me, and bubble baths, wear my shirts as you go to sleep and when I’ll ask why you’re doing that you’ll tell me that you like to feel my scent during the night when you suddenly wake up out of a heavy dream. Hug me and kiss me when my friends are around, make sure I’m sitting comfortably when we’re out, make space for me if I need more space, order for me, pay for me, keep your knee close to mine when we’re sitting close to each other, hold my hand, try to keep physical contact with me whenever you have the chance, smile every time you look at me and use that sweet face of yours, hold my jacket, kiss me on the lips whenever we say goodbye, act as if you’re the man when my father or my mother is present, protect me, let me fall asleep on your shoulder, let me cry on your shoulder every time I feel like it, take me wherever I want to go. Demonstrate that you love me by acting as if you love me.
I did all of these. Then went back to him on my knees.
What should I do now, I asked him.
You’ll have to do everything else, he told me, don’t take me out, don’t buy me presents, don’t take showers with me, don’t wear my shirts, don’t hug me and don’t kiss me when my friends are around, don’t make sure I’m sitting comfortably, don’t make space for me, don’t order for me, don’t pay for me, don’t keep your knee close to mine, don’t hold my hand. Can you still love me? Do you still love me?
Of course I do. But how will you know?
I’ll now. Even in their absence, I’ll know that you love me. You see, in this love of ours you have to get used to this, you have to get used to presence and absence, to lying and telling the truth, to hiding it and showing it.
How will I be able to do that?
It’s not without difficulty, he says, but you’ll be able to do it, because you’ll know, you’ll know that presence is as good as absence, and absence is as good as presence, that lying is as truthful as telling the truth, and that hiding it from the others is as good as showing it. This love of ours plays a double game. We’ll need to invent our own language, play with words, call things by other names, and in the meantime rage will grow furiously like poisonous herbs do, rage against everything else and everyone else, and in this rage you’ll find yourself so alone that you’ll get used to it, consider it natural, a thing for you to keep and nurture. You’ll find it funny, adorable, and in this rage you’ll wake up every morning.
Call me Rage, in case you need a name for me. Call me Fear, call me yours.
I am my own Rage, I am my own Fear.
Rage has a thing for you, my love, Fear has a thing for both of us.
There’s the fear of being caught, the fear of being blamed for this love of ours, the fear that there have been things unknown to us, refused to us just because of this love of ours, the fear of dying alone, the fear of waking up alone and realizing this has been only a dream, the fear that dreams may never come, the fear that a dream is just a dream and nothing more, the fear that you have found somebody else, the fear of the other body, the other man, the other woman, the fear of confusion, the fear of not having a clue, the fear that the war is already lost to both of us.
My name is Rage. Boiling Rage. My name is Rage Against Everything Else That Is Not You. My Rage is directed against those things which try to keep me away from you. My Rage is directed against the thoughts that make you appear putrid and lost, my rage is directed against those nights in which I have to go to bed alone, those mornings in which I find myself alone in bed, those mornings in which I have to drink my coffee alone. My Rage is directed against the bitterness of solitude.
My love, he says, rage is everywhere, Rage is here with me. I am Fear. Love me.
Rage and Fear got together and made love to each other. Unfortunately, neither Fear, nor Rage could have children, and so they were left alone with themselves. Their child could have been an abomination, and I myself would be lost for words trying to describe that child, just because my words couldn’t measure the beauty of that child, the fairness, and the happiness that the child brought to both Rage and Fear. It was the most beautiful Abomination because it was born out of love and other stories, which you surely know by now, they say that everything that comes out of love is beautiful, or at least should be considered beautiful.
My name is Abomination. I have taken up many forms up until now except this form: that of a child born out of love. I was born out of Rage and out of Fear. Love me. Try to love me. Act as if you could love me. Be silent, pretend. Because if you act as if you love me then I’ll know that deep down there is at least the desire to accept me for who I truly am, your beautiful Abomination.

Amber evening

amber_metallic_texture_ii_by_beckas So, we were quietly eating our ice-creams. He opened the door for me and I stepped into the car. Such a gentleman, I thought, and immediately dismissed the thought; it was serious but ironic at the same time. Men don’t do that with other men, unless there’s a hidden language of domination. He joined me in the car shortly after. As he went to the other side of the car, ice-cream in hand, his body left a trace of light over the evening sky. The sun was trying to run away from him, and as he crossed my field of vision I suddenly felt so alone as if a great danger was about to sweep me away from the face of the Earth throwing me into this pitch dark abyss. He finally got in. The silence and the solitude broke for a few seconds and the rest of the world came all over me as the door opened and closed with a thump. Then the world perished again. The sun drew cruel shadows over his complexion as if trying to make him ugly, telling me to look away. Look for love into some other place except this one, the world outside was telling me trying to get in, knocking against the windows of the car. He was truly the most beautiful man that I had ever seen, and he was so close now, moving around me with the silence of the planets circling around the sun. And there was a thump, and a click, and the sound of a deep breath, and there was perfume, and air, and the sound of clothes, and the sun between us painfully piercing the pores of my face. You are so beautiful, he says, and I say nothing. I can hear the ice-cream melting in my hand. I swallow and my mouth feels dry. Thanks, I say, and at once the world outside starts moving, and the car, and the shadows on his face outlining a sort of battle, and seconds seem like hours as he gets closer and closer to me, and I don’t move, fearing that my movement would make dust attack me, and take me away from him. And I can feel his breath now; I can feel it on my upper lip. I feel like grabbing him and pulling him closer but I’m still afraid of movement. But I stand here frozen while his lips touched mine. Dolce e deciso. And suddenly the solitude vanished and now a void opened, greater, bigger. It was the fear of losing him. And our lips parted.

But the silence kept talking through us like kids trying to talk to each other through a wall. I could only hear his breath and my thumping heart. What shall we do? He said. You are so beautiful, I told him. We finished our ice-creams. The world kept talking and moving around us as if nothing had happened, like rain washing over the warm ash of a camp fire. We are after all two bodies. Flesh plus bone plus desire, and as I looked outside through the dark windows of the car the world stopped making sense. The sidewalks had no reason to be where they were, the trees were too silent for that time of the year, the people had only two feet, two hands, and a pair of eyes, and the sun, I have never seen something uglier and crueler than the sun. Yet HE was here beside me. I felt his hand as he was trying to find mine and the open void settled down, stopped screaming, like a baby being fed. And the world made sense again, and again, and the trees started talking. You are so beautiful I told him, and he said he believed me. And I believed him.

And I don’t hate you, I hate the world. That is why every time I take a shower I feel like there’s a lot of dirt on my skin that I need to clean, take down. Somewhere, something, someone planted this seed into the depths of my body and up until now it has grown into this huge tree that manages to hide me from the sun.

Tu sei il sole della mia vita. Non so cosa farei senza di te.

Every time you say that something breaks inside me. And I want to hear it again. And you say no, no more, imagine all the other people in this world that need a word of affection and don’t get it, or they won’t get it in the near future. Let’s not waste our words of affection. These words are like water, or like food, they need to be preserved. So we stay silent for a while because our vocabulary is filled with words of affection and now you realize you’ve just said too many, and maybe there is nothing else left to say but “I adore you” and “I wouldn’t want to lose you”.

The world is so strange today, you say, why don’t they just marry and get it over with. That’s what I always thought when I was little, why write books about lost love, or sing songs about them when you could just marry them and be together for the rest of your life. But as you stare at the ceiling you begin to see it more clearly. The ceiling is a place of revelation, where thoughts meet and form ideas. Things are not that simple, you see, marriage wouldn’t be the solution, I mean, it couldn’t be the ultimate solution, marriages fail sometimes, things get nasty, you need to divide things. Marriage would be the failure of everything, of love itself. And you laugh heartily. What a stupid thing to say. We won’t get married, love, right?

The three lighthouse keepers

[Listen to this song while reading this post]

We’re the three lighthouse keepers leaving behind six months’ worth of food and equipment without leaving a note, words would only stir the passion in those we desire to leave behind. There’s no time to say goodbye, we have to disappear before sunshine, before the lights in the lighthouse have moved from one corner to the other, before we can hear the light being switched off, before we begin to understand the movement of the waves and the sounds they make. There’s no time to acknowledge the beauty of the morning, the waves have never been the same, and they’ll never be the same. We’re the three lighthouse keepers leaving behind six months’ worth of food and equipment, warm beds, I’m pulling my trousers knowing that soon the warmth in our beds shall die along with the memory of sleep, and that there’s no trail behind us. But before we even think of leaving I count nights one by one. Three more nights, two more nights, one more night, this is the last night we never had, our sleep like a web and the furious waves like the spider hunting for lost souls, and before I wake up I tremble, morning has set a city made out of nails at my feet over which I’ll have to step, and as I look ahead I see the other two lighthouse keepers weeping silently, I’m so sorry one of them says, the waves have never been the same. I keep you in my hands and I try to talk, say nice things to you, and you say you are happy, two more nights and we’ll finally be together, at last, no more making plans, and I say the same, no more making plans, love, no more making plans, and I think I must be such a bastard because I say that knowing that you’ll keep making plans but those plans won’t involve me, they’ll involve somebody else. But then, as I say that, I hope for a miracle to happen, I still hope the devil will listen to my prayers and save me from disappearing completely from the series of plans you’ve made for me, because every night I went out and sat on top of the lighthouse and prayed silently until the devil became the savior. I am one of the three lighthouse keepers leaving behind six months’ worth of food and equipment, my bedside lamp and my reading shoes, I sail in the evening sky trying not to think of you, saying that I’m actually going out with the other two lighthouse keepers and you say how nice, how happy you are for me, three more nights like these and no more plans, and I say the same thing, no more plans, my love. And I call your name once more into the night, and while you say you’re the happiest man on Earth I say the same thing, but in fact, the night has set a city of burning coals at my feet, my love, I’m afraid this is goodbye. We’re the three lighthouse keepers leaving behind six months’ worth of food and equipment, and I’m leaving you behind, no more plans, love.

Forgive me, father

Forgive me, father, ’cause I have sinned. Somewhere, inside the house father is sleeping, alone. Mother is working nights. They meet only in the morning when father’s aftershave lingers on the white pillowcase. The lights are dimmed, and it is two in the morning, and I can’t find my sleep. The bed seems to be curved in such a way the only thing I could do is stare at the cheap fan flying ceaselessly around the room. As it moves the light goes on and off. Finally, I say to myself, the talk is over. My neighbor’s little kid has finally gone to sleep. Now I’m alone with my thoughts. And you. And the brassy NYC wallpaper I bought for two euros. I look around the room and everything seems in place. My desk sits silently, fully submerged into a bizarre game of shadow and light, nauseatingly keeping its mouth shut. It knows too much, I whisper to myself. Once, using a short pencil, I wrote on it I wanna have sex with you, then immediately wiped it. Then, I wrote I love you and I wanna live with you. After that I found a picture of you. You were half naked and I touched it so many times the colors started to fade your face and body distorted by my fingerprints. I cut the picture in little pieces and threw it into the toilet. I had to flush twice until all the pieces were dragged into that whirlpool of water. I felt so guilty when I kissed you for the first time, not because it felt wrong, but because I wanted to do it again and again until my lips would go numb. Strangely enough, I felt like something was wrong as if our lips didn’t fit one into the other. As if they resembled each other too well. And then we did it again, and for one moment I felt like father was too asleep to overhear us while we joined our lips in the silence of breathing. Father, forgive me, ’cause I have sinned. And you took my shirt off and I took your shirt off, and you said I like how your body resembles mine. A mirror wouldn’t do it any better. And I said no, and you said yes, we’ll have to do this sooner or later. And this call was so alluring I couldn’t resist, like the sinner for whom sin is no more than a drug. Be silent, I said, father is sleeping in the other room and I wouldn’t want to explain this to him. He wouldn’t understand it anyway.

The beast in the tall grass

Born in that summer morning, we both stood outside in the tall grass without the fear of snakes. And the apples grew yellow and red, and the sky was of a constant blue, cloudless. I could see the sweat running down your forehead and I wanted to wipe it off, but the world wouldn’t let me do it. At night, I would cry because I knew that later on, even yawning will have a dark significance. The body will grow big, and the mind will have to develop techniques to understand it. I wish I could say I love you. Because I do. But this word, love, comes from a place of confusion. And if I tell the truth that truth will consume me, and it will take you away from me. And I don’t want that. Let us remain and forget about the inevitable storm. Let us touch, but only in our minds, let us make love without the truth being present. You’ll lie down, and I’ll be right beside you and the sky will have a whole new meaning. Smile. The sun is just right. What shall we do, you ask, when grandfather or even father, shall find us sleeping in the tall grass, attached to each other in the fury of the evening? We’ll hear only the sound of the steps cutting through the yellowish grass and the sun and the sky. We’ll do nothing, I say. We’ll wait in silence, so as to hear the wrath of those steps as they walk away, shoes filled with knowledge. We’ll have, by then, nothing else but our love and our bodies attached to each other. By the time the steps have vanished our gods would have disappeared too. Father, how could it be? How come from a body like yours a beast like me could have risen? How could that architecture go wrong? By means of a thought? As I go home, taking after father’s steps I watch you sleeping covered in light. I know at home I’ll find this silence multiplied by ten and sprinkled with anger. Why did you keep this away from us? I was afraid, father, I’m afraid of what might come, of what will come. I’m afraid it’s nothing, and how could you live on nothing, how could you? Of all the people in this world, how could you, father?

To a dear friend at home

I didn’t get your last letter. You probably wrote a lot of interesting things in it, old things turned into new ones, marriages, deaths, lost friendships and found ones. All those things which make up a life. So, thank you, I needed all that. But, now, how could I tell you that I met nobody on the way, since our lives revolve around meeting people? And that I have no friends here, that I know nobody, and that I stay silent my entire life here. A sort of crust covers my lips in the morning, and sometimes my eyes. So this letter must sound joyful, it must have great things in it, discoveries, culture shocks, culinary adventures, and smiles, and sex with unknown boys in public bathrooms. So that life would sound grand over here, yes, you might think. It is, life is grand on the other side of the line ’cause it takes a lot of courage to cross the line and call things by their own name. Well, frankly, I can’t call things by their own names because I need to hide in order to be happy. So, yes, I do tell you I am happy, as much as a human being can be, and have lots of friends, and good-night-kisses, and a cute dog. That I have coffee at the coffee-shop in the singles’ area, and that I have a personal hairdresser who thinks I’m some sort of rock star. And that I go to read books in fancy, bohemian coffee shops with fake artists and poets, and walk the streets at night and go to obscure clubs with alternative guys who look good only when they are naked. So that you may feel jealous. That there are people who love me and because of that I feel secure. But, the truth is, I don’t. There are no such people. But you need to know that I am happy ’cause when I’m happy you’ll think that you can be happy too. That happiness is made for humans, and that it is not impossible to reach, that you can touch it. A possibility is better than nothing, don’t you think?

So I tell you that my life is great…

…except that from time to time I see saints and angels in other people, and in every smile the mysteriousness and beauty of nights spent together with love, and sweat.

be silent, pretend

for those who need to be silent in order to live, be silent, pretend. it will be the longest moment of your life, like when you’re sick and the pain and the fever won’t go away. you feel like grass grows faster. grass does grow under your bed, you just don’t know it. every morning your grandmother goes and cuts it with small scissors, those that are used to cut nails. be silent, don’t say the things they do not want to hear, there’s always some conspiracy thing going on. just say that you are happy even though what is happening around you is bound to make you unhappy. silence will give you peace, silence will make you love, silence will help you bear your solitude with pride. go find a burrow and shout your secret into it then cover it with mud. it will work for a few nights. you’ll have the chance to sleep alone because your secret will be too busy getting out of the burrow. what would you wish for your birthday, the burrow will ask. and I’ll whisper: I wish to know somebody that could see, and not be blind like me. and the burrow will laugh. I tricked you into it, the burrow will say. once you say your wish to me it will never happen. that’s the thing with burrows, you see, you wouldn’t want a secret to get out of the burrow. just like that wishes will never get out of the burrow. wars and words you cannot take back. so be silent, pretend.

the poetry of the long lasting fever

when the lines are broken and the words recall different meanings in the same situations, all one does is whine about the muteness of hands held together. what is there to understand than two hands tied with muteness. I suddenly want us to be silent, will my hand fuse on your belly. shall I melt away from the heat of your body. become one with your rough skin. because I can feel the pores and the sense of despair. all hope is lost or absent. come on, howl, I want to see drama, let that despair materialize, contrast with the secrecy of our hidden love. two bodies like this should not be together, not in this life. you know sometimes, when I’m asleep, I fear that a pair of black wings shall pierce through the skin of my back and push you away because my gods would offer me those wings just to push you away. so tie me with the sheets, let my ugly grin contrast with the nothingness you hold into your empty womb like a cursed mother. I’m afraid it is too late, you say. my gods have already denied this love. they said you shall crawl with a deserted womb until you repent.

so I write a letter, my gods, and ask them why this cut, and they say, because if you look ahead, little by little, the world shall commit suicide. we leave you with the empty wombs. and I wonder when this wrath of bones will stop growing. the fruitless womb grows bones but no flesh. we’ll have to use our own flesh to fill in the blanks. connect the dots and this love shall be complete.

I cross my palms over you belly and my hands seem displaced. and you are scared. what shall we do, you ask. shh, nothing, I say. keep this displacement silent. they need a life. we don’t. I won’t melt away from the heat of your body. black wings won’t grow from the blades of my back and push you away. love is not as inhumane as we think it is. shh, they need a life. we don’t.