Hey, tonight’s lecture is on topography. Lie back and let me navigate, I’ve got all the maps. I will lead you down a course, discoursing as we go about those damn fool nights of two shots too many. Tonight’s lecture is no story, song, or rhyme but a lesson in math of the wildest kind. The geometry in our curves bends like so. Watch your footing.
Now, I’ve got some graphs for your ears which require closer examination.
I knew a dead girl once. Upon meeting her in that dark corner of Serengatto’s (it means something in one of those love languages of romance lands) she said
"Do you remember dying?"
and I said
"First I'd like to remember living
lets return to this communiqué
once we find the ground."
I had never played words with a dead girl before.
We made visual love there, on those too small seats of Serengatto’s, our eyes conjoining in ways profane and delightful. So I knew her methods and wily means before we even said hello, or what passes for that in these parts. It was matter of fact, I had her by the eyes and the gin. Discretion passed on the evening and let transgression do all the talking.
That night I made the dead dance, with two glances and a touch upon the hand. Oh she said some other things too. We talked of the weather around here, the sort of breezes that come in low pulling all sorts of systems and fronts on with them. She liked that sort of weather.
Our jazz was smooth, we played it slow, but not too mellow. I found our rhythm and ran it up the base of her spine. I liked to watch her writhe like that, to twist in my wind.
That night in the aftermath, she told me she didn’t know why she couldn’t just stay in the ground and be still. I thought I knew, but I liked her where she was and told her to close those pretty eyes for now.
But what was she like? She was shaped, oh, like this, with cleft of breast, turns of thigh and a porcelain face. We'd smoke cloves and talk in sign like the deaf mutes we were. My first words for her were formed there, on the sweep of that cheek, right below the delicious bone. I remember that face, she liked to keep it cool and even, but I could never leave it alone, I gave those cheeks color and made those lips quiver.
She called me necromancer, I thought neuromancer, but maybe I was wrong.
So we came and went like that, with jazz smooth like our gin, in the back of Serengatto’s. She was in the crowd, moving to collective beats in the unconscious, conscious of those flows and feet, but then she died and quit. She wanted a messiah; I gave her a witch doctor with the voodoo cure to rigor mortis. She thought it good enough, for the moment.
And she loved the weather. We’d recline in long shadows with longer drinks and softer gazes and follow those patterns. Then the humidity would get intense, raising the barometer and we’d wander off somewhere to a restroom stall to go storm watching. The lightning there was intense, three strikes and I was out. I hope someone heard that thunder.
She was in the scene too, landscaping colors to fix the real with that edge that made it all right. But then she died and dropped out. I asked her why she stopped painting, she said
“A ghost can’t hold a brush” and flashed those eyes that made talking so pointless. Later I pressed her, in all the right ways and she went on about the only sort of art that made sense anymore. The sounds our bodies make when we move this way. Apparently she lost her brush between the sheets. That night the whole symphony came out and put on a show. They blasted strident notes with no care for measure or meaning leaving me so deaf I could hear her sweat hit the floor.
Once I asked her how she died. She just tossed those shoulders, just like this as if to say that such a fact was trivial. Then she’d eye me up and down, that sort of look that taps in and takes control. She said once,
“Are you sure you aren’t dead too?
Ghosts can burn like that,
with that sultry fire
you so love to kindle.
There’s no pulse
to your eyes.
Lets go bury ourselves
in that grave we love.”
And I turned up that soil, up and over for a grave for two. We got reacquainted with a kind of warmth the earth gives to those that work it right. I fell back and was buried. Later that evening we’d lie there smoking and the story would straighten, small twists down from 90 degrees. There was one before who killed her, but didn’t even put her in the ground. I thought it rude, and resolved to never do the same.
I don’t think she ever had a name.
On Tuesdays, I was giving these lessons in Serengatto’s and she’d sit in the back to play visual aid, aiding my visual with malicious assistance. All I taught was evacuation and amputation. Leaving the floor and cutting off infested thoughts to go watch the weather.
We’d sip long gins in the back and watch the clouds swarm in. Maybe I’m dead too.
But we made beautiful music, oh that raucous jazz. She liked to conduct and I liked to freestyle, method to my madness, but I could always break her tempos, with a few beats like so. I don’t have any of those old albums anymore; I threw them all out when she hit her high note. Those spells worked over time those nights; we each needed some of that juice to rise against the sun. She said necromancer and I said nothing.
Often times we’d go out. Out beyond usual scenery, but well within usual boundaries. She talked about the weather, under the stars, and my hairs stood up expecting a hurricane. Every so often, that story would flatten, one dent here and there subsumed in this plain and it would come out like this,
“His colors were different than yours, soft to your hard and blue to your crimson. He never took what I gave him, but used it anyway and didn’t think to return it.”
“He never moved like that, it was somewhat like this, he liked to give with each push until I toppled with him.” I tried to remember how to die for her, but never got that far. Maybe I should have tried instead to live for her, but that was never my style and the dead don’t much care for the living. When the sun crawled up from its own grave we’d head back to lights more familiar and think about long shadows cast by that gin we favored.
Once someone asked me my drug of choice, I responded, “Her eyes through that gin glass.” She got me up like that, going in directions undirected. Then she’d slide in next to me, one hand around that glass, the other on my thigh with a loose tongue wrapped around comments about the coming rain. People knew us then, everyone whistled our song.
It came to pass, in a past evening we left Serengatto’s and drove out in western ways, it was that old craze again in my car. Uppity feet with fumbling hands out past eastern shores, all over those hills and through those valleys. It was a slow drive and we became so wonderfully lost I let go of that wheel.
She pictured me a painting in a seedy motel somewhere. I didn’t know if I liked the dead breathing, but she did it anyway and I was art on a canvas by the time the sun was tapping out. Her strokes were light, like I liked them, and that composition moved me so, a bit of blending on the hard edges, a bit of coaxing on all the right angles. It called her done and she agreed, so I administered some art of my own. Pinned on that mattress I composed this prose in her ear, trailing whisper kisses on lobes so delightful. I called it done and she agreed. I think I gave her heart a beat, maybe blood flowed that evening, maybe she just died in a different way.
We woke up from that highway dream in Serengatto’s. Her painting found a wall and my words found a crowd. In that old bathroom stall we slipped quietly back into those old rhythms where colors fell flat and words didn’t say much. Not breathing is easier. Go back to sleep.
We lived together for a while, there was a loft for two and a bed for one, our math was often confused. I’d check her pulse there on our flat couch and look for the life in those eyes. Grey. I think she got tired of that old fashioned hocus pocus. Where’d the focus go? Not to Serengatto’s, we made new gin stains in new carpets and watched new fronts push old clouds out of foreign skies. I jumped through those hoops, upside down inversions on paths unknown. We started thinking about a new factor, playing additionary games and making our math incomprehensible. I bought her paints with a new canvas, she pictured a painting, and I started to breathe again.
So I came home to that house and she had painted me a picture. The red looked familiar and the bathtub agreed. “How crimson are my tears?” I asked her when she couldn’t answer. I was killed by a dead girl, I met her in Serengatto’s and we played old style jazz while tracing clouds in midnight skies.
Now I haunt the graveyards at dawn, I know a dead girl who couldn’t stay dead the first time. For remembrance, a eulogy:
Art is the life and when it left her she was just as dead as the rest of us. She was never one for the ice of this cold or the stillness of this quiet, and so she could not adapt to the ground. Birds ought to fly you know, and her wings were shorn when her brush ran dry. True tragedy is that; when the soul goes on ahead and leaves the body behind walking its days in a daze, waiting for the promised breaking that sets it all right again.
Just once I would have liked to see her breathe. Oh these games we play.
Yet in all her dying some true art was born, she had a hand in the molding, the forming of
this human being.
Art is the life, and this is me living.
There is a liberation in those words, follow this discourse, race along its course, where have my words gone and where are you now? There’s too many X’s on this map, a girl has died so I could remember what breathing is.
Let’s return to this communiqué
once we find the ground.