my urge to speak is my childish gawking is my clinging to the visible is my trying to be here

by Noah Zanella


When my father’s mother died, my grandfather bought himself a casket. The carpenter who made it had a brain tumor that was making his eye bulge out of his head. When the carpenter dropped it off, he climbed inside to show that it was a good fit, and his wife laughed. We brought it down to the basement and propped it up on two cinderblocks under a hanging lamp that swung back and forth whenever someone walked around overhead. I dipped one of my dad’s old socks in stain and rubbed it over the box until it was a warm red-brown. Then I had to sand it down and do it all over in a different color because my aunts thought that it was not dark enough. ~ Maybe it was the glance of a fox in the shadow of a pine. Maybe it was the strap of one polka-dotted dress sliding off a shoulder. It is late. Wind, empty branches. Notice: stutter take note of  ~ I’ve been reading Hamlet bit by bit since I moved to Chicago, because Woolf wrote that you should read it at 25, “when one is oneself Hamlet.” I’m laughing at it more often than I did in high school. After he kills Polonius and confronts his mother, when he exits the stage, he drags the dead body off with him in a huff. While I was staining the casket, I experienced that kind of seeing which sometimes happens when cleaning the kitchen, when you have a hyper-awareness of every fleck/blemish/mote, and I was anxious that I was doing a terrible job and would spoil my grandfather’s funeral for everybody. ~Let’s go down to the lake and press our cheeks against the dock. Let’s crawl wordless and mad along the fleshy floor of the lungs. ~ A lot of household appliances make a little sound all the time like a steady hum and often when I’m writing I start to hear it. I should call my first book “Arriving at the Sound of the Fridge.” Faulkner said there is no was and as I lie on my back watching letters appear on the page I can see the past superimposed. He’s pacing the kitchen at my parents’ house and the hanging pots and pans rattle when he steps. Somewhere in Black Zodiac, Charles Wright says even good memories aren’t as good as no memories at all. ~ O strange pond / sudden wing / Bare feet on wet stones The incomprehensible brother / watches  Strip of moonlight / distorted on the water  ~ Asparagus and mint have overrun the garden. I am ashamed because I have just hacked a chunk out of the swingset with the lawnmower. Why not paint the fence at night? I tied myself to a rock on the opposite side of the house so that I will not fall off the roof. Here is a warped board which makes the foothold when you want to climb higher. Here is the pattern according to which I eat my apples. ~Sometimes I feel like I’m missing it all Everything I see Even as it goes through me I want to pull open a follicle of milkweed. I want to go down to the lake and shed my skin. ~ This is not the ocean and that animal thing is not a sparrow. Brandon dropped his glasses off the dock and when we jumped in to find them we could not reach the bottom. I worry that I do not experience life as intensely or with such immediacy as I used to. When I was nineteen I could barely handle looking at the sidewalk. My feet are up on a cabinet, and cold. I hold out my hand and bend my fingers back, watching the space between my tendons. Electric light illuminates the hair on my knuckles. I can’t see out a window from where I sit, but I can tell by the quality of the light when I look through the half- open door into the kitchen that the sun is going down. He takes his feet down from the cabinet. A joint pops. It is getting darker. I’ve been wanting to tell you about this brick wall but I am at a loss.


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