sporklet 15
Rusty Morrison
Walk Watch (8)

I walk out the door into pre-sunrise dark.

So few street lights on Arlington Blvd.

No one to see, to perform for, except my

own mind, its ghost-horde of voices,

louder when I’m alone. Hannah Arendt

says language “summons whatever it

pleases from any distance in space or

time.” Language, this morning, is

summoning the illusion of walking with

no center of gravity to sustain a ‘me’ I

could perform well enough to believe in.

This illusion, so all-consuming that I

barely see a deer at the corner. Shrub of

a neighbor’s front yard is occluding its

face. What face of mine does it see? I

sense its eyes on me. I stop mid-stride.

I’m performing for it ‘how I stop’—

performing what I want it to see. I shot

meth, “speed” we called it then, I was

telling Alex, yesterday over coffee,

surprising myself with the simple way I

said it. I realize now that for once I

wasn’t performing, just letting myself

listen to myself, for whatever I didn’t

know about the self who shot speed so

many years ago. I remember the first

night, even the first needle-prick and

rush, everyone calls it a “rush.” For me,

the rushing wasn’t out of myself but

deeper into a body I suddenly wanted to

live inside. I wanted to move inside it,

and stay. That’s what speed says, stay

exactly in this feeling, recreate it, with

this exact dosage, whenever I need to.

On speed, I wasn’t drowning in the

instant-after-instant that became years.

That word,“drowning,” I hear it—so

cliché a word to use. But the comfort of

a cliché wards off the fear of facing

again what I’d felt. And the word “fear,”

a controlled performance of a

nightmare, and “nightmare,” how quickly

every word fails that I try to use. No, I

didn’t say this much to Alex. She was

nodding, and began to tell me that she’d

been addicted to a substance, and to

her own patterns, seemingly impossible

to change. I’d stopped talking to take in

that nod and her words. I was already

performing what the nod reflexively

revised in me—a persona I believe she

wanted from me, which I created before

I realized that, in doing so, I would lose

myself. How to retrieve it? I can ask

myself this now as I see myself

performing stillness for the deer, here on

the Arlington, as it pauses on its side-

street. I imagine the deer senses me

choosing to “still myself,” and that the

impact upon it of my choice is loud. The

deer’s stillness is different. It is a

stillness that belongs both to the deer

and to everything around it, stillness as

porous membrane. Then the deer

turns from me, not to run, but to step deftly. It

has already vanished up the side-street

from which it came.

Rusty Morrison is co-publisher of Omnidawn (www.omnidawn.com). Her five books include Beyond the Chainlink (finalist for NCIB Award & NCB Award), the true keeps calm biding its story (Laughlin Award winner). She is currently a fellow, awarded by UC Berkeley Art Research Center’s Poetry & the Senses Program. Website: www.rustymorrison.com