A Summer Concert of Insomnia and Unintentionally Tracked Eavesdroppings.
It’s slipping through degrees. The mercury flutters and ebbs downward. A sweet release from Saturday’s encircling humidity. Streetlight clicks yellow to red. Click. Green.
Without air conditioning, the depth of darkness expands beyond these walls. Now there’s a new geometry. New points of focus to map the aural contours. Crickets, katydids, cars lurk on newly paved streets, cops slink and stalk like sharks. Voices, whiskeyed and low.
Out from the nocturne: “That’s not what you do with golf balls.”
Back up in the bedroom, this timid spy of alarm clocks blinks his submissive, droopy eyelids as time slows with every glance, each sigh at the digital bedside blues. But the wakefulness feeds on drowsy nods, building to the bushy-tailed heights of night, the prickly overload of sleeplessness.
Lingering smells change. Skunks and hydrangeas surrender to cut grass and gasoline. Fading scented oils crawling along with soft breezes.
“Seven sisters is too many sisters.”
The lights-out novel was troubling. It revived memories of lost friends. The ones you’re not supposed to lose. You’re supposed to give them a gunnysack full of sand and slash a slit at the bottom. A trail that cannot be broken. That way you’ll both know where to meet when the world ends.
Once-warriors without a war used to run through the woods at night with knives. Cut the tree to taste the sap, slice the palm to share the blood. Shooting bottle rockets sideways into the chest of a best friend. Barbed wire scars across the shins. Bruises were the first true tattoos.
But not now. The trails are blurry. It’s a blind climb til morning, instead of building a nest in the evening’s elbow.
“I like ferns. Hell, I love ferns.”
It’s 4:52 am and they won’t stop nattering.
The makeup of their meeting is impossible to distinguish. There could be four to ten creatures. Perhaps cloven hoofed, maybe winged. Land spirits speaking in the voices of Ask and Embla, baritone registers, but not hushed, tones. None of the sentences respond to the prior or allude the next. It is as if they’re all reciting a frayed epic poem. Homespun words splash into words, like plodding bumper cars or drunken paddle boats. Branches of sound banging against my windows.
“Fiddlesticks…haunted lighthouse…Jenny’s a man now…more like sour cream and stale…rusty rails are assassins…blanks, just blanks…no, that’s pure voodoo…crop dusting pirate ship…burp…coming down from heaven…leather ringlets…nobody could see that coming…conspiratorial utilities…my throat…ice… sixteen when they got married…a candle and a deck of cards…the vultures don’t let up.”
The insensible summit recedes, street lamps hand the keys over to a slate-colored sun. Finally quiet, finally sleep.