Drive


  

When in the course of human events, when of course there are human events, when warm human events wrap us in parchment and sign our names, we are moved. We are moved to look out into the night sky, in search of lights. Even here, so far south, we search for the northern lights, for the glimmering surprise of celestial fractals. Fractals are proof of the inevitability and constancy of change. I have a theory about sugar crystals, about unwanted affections. I have a theory about discipline and authority, and no one will make me be silent and no one will make me say exactly what it is.

If you were a salesman, say, and you were selling blue dye in a land where blue dye had long been missing, say, then your success would depend on if the absence of blue dye was noted or whether blue dye had been forgotten. I cannot desire that which I cannot remember. Or I can desire that which I cannot remember, but I cannot say what it is. What is the word for blue dye? It is on the tip of my tongue, the tip of my tongue which is dyed blue from blueberries, dyed blue from popsicles, dyed blue from delphinium. What I need is woad, but there is no word for woad around here.

 

Around here, it is possible to live for months at a time without ever thinking about green. It is brown adobe grey sage yellow broom blue sky red rock white sand watermelon mountain. Then one day you are visiting your abuelita in the hospital and she is eating lime jello. She is blind, but she is eating lime jello with mandarin oranges in it, and she can taste the green even without her eyes. Tastes like grass, she says, tastes like leaves, and she smiles with her mouth and her blue tongue and you can see the lime jello in her mouth sliding down past her smile into her little abuela panza. Then she puts the spoon down and goes to sleep like a baby. You kiss her forehead and leave her there to dream of cool whip and mango pudding.

In the night skies, which are constantly turning, there are signs and symbols. A bull. A dog. An archer. A slug. A dust bunny. A cat in a yellow hat who waves as the stars roll by. Looking out the window as we drive across the desert at midnight, I see the stars rotating and dancing in the very hot sky. My hand is out the window and hot air pushes against it. I put my head on the window and it leaves a head print. I wonder if my head print is unique like my fingerprints, or are foreheads mass manufactured? One set of headbones per species, a model of the human cranium. I see the model from all sides: temporal, frontal, parietal, occipital. I am lobular, I think. I feel the bones on my head, and imagine modeling them in clay. The clay is cool, unlike my head, which is hot from the August air blowing in the car window.

A tumbleweed rushes at us in the dark, and we swerve to avoid hitting it. We wing it and it crackles under the wheels, lit and sparkling in the headlight as it disintegrates in a visual Doppler around us. It is gone and the road is a grey red path behind, a yellow black trail ahead. It is time to pull over before the hypnosis of the flashing yellow line drags us into the undertow, the undertow of road sleep. I feel the wheels pulling me down. I look at Emma, clutching the steering wheel and looking fixedly ahead of her, too much like a rabbit trapped in the high beams.

“Stop,” I say. “It is time to stop.” She says nothing.

“Stop,” I say again. “Emma.”

She looks at me. Her eyes are black. I push at her knee and her eyes quiver a little, and then she sees me.

“Oh.” She shakes her head, just a little. “Okay.”

We pull over to the side of the road. The lights are still on, illuminating the shoulder, the plastic bags, the edge of the invisible sage stretching out and out and out. We sit still for a minute, then she turns the lights off. There is nothing. Not even a truck on this road that lies parallel to the interstate, that used to be busy with little stores selling rabbit’s feet and copper bracelets. Nothing but stars, and a light whistling wind in the desert all around. I climb in the back seat and stick my feet out the window. Next thing I know, it is morning. 91 degrees, 6:30 a.m. Somewhere close to hell, but farther away than we’d been this time yesterday.

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2 Responses to “Drive”


  1. 1 truce November 23, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    “…and she can taste the green even without her eyes.”

    that’s a lovely idea.

  2. 2 Teresa November 25, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Thank you, Truce. I’m playing with words that engage other senses lately. Fun.


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