BETWEEN CASSIOPEIA AND PERSEUS
I thought that if I approached late enough, then perhaps it would be sparsely populated and dark enough so as to allow me to sever a sprig of ivy without having any witnesses. If it grows in a park, then it is public; if a church grows it, then to take is sin, although this is not true of sacraments. All summer, I wanted the outdoors in, but the ivy, the other severed flowers, the roots of grasses, and budding potato plants all wizened and wilted, dying from some other original sin.
What causes sadness is to live in a different place each August, and each August having fog and rain instead of the Perseid Meteor shower. Look toward such and such constellation, and such and such constellation is not there. So nice of the Greeks, I think, to leave us golden apples. So nice to look up some nights and see crowns, dippers, arrows aimed finitely towards infinity.
What made me want a hot shower nonetheless was my thinking of Medusa. Men look at her, and they turn to stone. What is feared takes the shape of a serpent, and men are afraid of beauty sometimes and so they must kill it, while I fear that I am not beautiful and patiently wait and inspect my ivy for roots each morning.
If I have a love story, then it exists in the bowl of my breakfast. I don't know how they do it, the ones who drink milk from their bowls when the cereal is all gone.
Every day, something dies: when there is a breeze, it scatters the dead flies on the windowsill; the mouse has been caught; a moth did not find its way out. I think of Elizabeth often, her Manmoth confusing the moon with a way out. The misprints of the past gather like newspapers waiting to be turned into something else.
For him, I was the only brunette, I know. I was (what is the term for rocket ships, which blow up and crash back down to earth?) an anomaly. Not that it matters. There are some weaknesses that reveal themselves only if you wait long enough, that is, if you look diligently for the roots.
I want to know, in the end, what will get set in stone, because what gets set in stone is, of course, final: someone's name, the year of his birth and the year of her dying, these things unarguably do not change. I want to know how quickly the quickest of flora grows. As a child in science class I remember my teacher saying to take pity on the plants—rooted, they must depend on what is immediately around them to survive and cannot flee those animals that crush or bite. Why is it then that I have feet and yet still am?
This place is your private part. And when I was eight, Chris lay on top of me and the next day asked for his stuffed duck and toy tugboat back. What is private, what is hidden should be one's heart, as it becomes more and more difficult to show. All summer, I wanted the outside in; to take that which grows inside sacred places is a sin.
August 13 and last year, a bridge in Austin, overcast, high in the upper 90s and 0% chance of rain. The bats leave the bridge at dusk and return at dawn. The Perseids do not fall here. I think of Elizabeth, of cuttings of newsprint. I don't know why some people want their water so cold, why they ask for ice. It pains my teeth, is so difficult to drink. The way out of an affair is another affair, a misprint for a misprint. I want to know why is it that I have feet and still am.
Someone asked me once to write something and only spend fifteen minutes on this writing. "Between Cassiopeia and Perseus" grew out of this request. I never heard a reply from this someone, but I'm glad that I wrote this piece. The piece feels like the extension of a late summer I experienced in during my first year in Brooklyn. The summer seemed to be made of decaying things, wizened potatoes, dampness, dankness, and darkness. If you want to see the Perseid meteor shower, you're supposed to look between the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus.