To collect the experience of being in a room, to be what one is not, and to feel the real possibility of it. I crack two eggs and whisk until they’re ready to be added to the buttermilk. I’ve prepared my own buttermilk by adding the lemon I bought. We joke about the gas station. Telling this back to one another. I mix this into that, and this is what I mean by I am unable to—knowing that I will have to have done something—convey that sense of it which others allow me to know: it is hard to say only by having seen that what one wants is a real possibility. What is happening to be articulated, but it is in between like two arrows curving upward and inward, pointing at one another like a half circle. And so I do not know if I wish to have done anything.
One must know what something is to be moved by it. A student jumped off of a building. Several emails were written and received. Sometimes many days pass without a response. This gap in communication is a type of death, and perhaps it is in using an allegory or a metaphor that we intervene, making what is too painful very interesting, or manageable. I am to understand who she is if I am to understand how to move forward, she says. This is what will allow one to feel happy or content. It is in knowing what we are doing that we can feel like it has happened, and it is in this sense of memory, which Proust teaches us constitutes being, that knowledge is the beginning of feeling. A coral reef is an animal, she says. This is something she often tells others.
To trade the subject for the subject, she takes the train in the direction that she is told. After another has been taking place: one for the individual and one for the stranger, on her tongue proximity is the same as getting from one place to another. Worse than that the initial moments make up what it is we are wondering about or wandering through. Approximation, or substitution—to be initiated—as if it were you and me, means. As if it were repeatable, the skypasses too. And then, anything that is on the table compounds and tries. Living in the present is like this as long as what is assumed to be replaceable can be held in the front of one’s hand, near the fingers. She asks appearance to the side, but the lesson sways, the lesson swims, she and I are wet, and the sand is cool. The sun is warm and the blanket, any more than love can be talked about in a way that’s new, is warm.
Telling him thank you—shirt, palm, sift—she knows that to have missed a single word is to lose the ability to speak. This is how she remains warmest. This is how she does not know her gap, pressure, or wholeness; it is only by shelving what we have already walked around with that we amplify this impossibility: it is around the edges unarticulated in its calmness. If it is taking her five minutes, hands on the pillow, hands on the lamp, none of it will have found a parallel in whatever might still be discussed. Certain pasts can’t be the same sensation: looking through a material onto a material. Often she does not have the patience for it. Often she does not know if he is saying something soft or very soft. What needs to be prolonged is often what can’t always have been developing. One damp street, the curtain that does not hide the light from the building opposite, which of them is warmest and the curtain that is black. The beginning of a word that is often the end of one.
This is what I am worried about and this is what you are worried about. Not unlike a damp towel. I do not know what I am saying and yet this is what gives me courage to have spoken: to look back on it and know that it happened. This is what allows me to act. Her hands warmed by the mug. The mug hot from the coffee. The coffee boiled by the kettle. The kettle scalded by the stove. The stove ignited by the match. The match struck by her hands. Trying to listen to who is speaking. If what is addressed is unheard, has it been spoken; what can’t be remembered can’t be sure to have happened. A knife for the bread and a knife for the butter, and this is how we can be talking about it. I use shortcuts for you as much as anyone, she says. Apple, ample. I am not doing this for anyone but myself. Precipitate the conversations before the day has taken place. Not even in a storm can the clouds be called gregarious.
She opens the door to Dave’s Café—I am telling a story, she thinks, so that I can not tell one. All one has to do to be interested in something is to start being interested in it, the way a blue thing often precedes a dark blue thing. The way the unity of what is separate is inseparable from itself (the top shelf, the middle shelf). This chair, my sitting on it. This lap, your sitting on it. We all switch positions but I’m never the one to tell it. The conversation I had with her when she was about to get on the bus is no different from this, he says. I was about to get on the bus.
Speaking for oneself is one way not to have spoken, she says—plot is the object of knowing to gain attention. The desire to know. The desire to climb a ladder and find something atop: like an egg or a moon, if light comes from it it is alive, or warm. It is possible to speak and to ask later what has taken place. The lights flicker or dim. The soft wetness of the table. I’ll admit why I haven’t been asked to be around much lately after you ask me I haven’t, she says. She and I had lunch together. After what wasn’t spoken. Knowing if either she or he was under or above the table. On the table something very happy was kept in how its legs were arranged.
She says she caught the bus, the salt on her lips, the salt in her pocket. Precision being what we approximate for what we do or do not give one another, we respond—an object can be anything from a chair to a small chair—to objects. Most of the time I do not tell you this, and most of the time I do not know this. The apple on the table, the angle of the table, when she walked from one end to the other, she did so without tension. We, to apprehend, now feeling the having past of what is just a manner of talking about it: a doorway, or any random object, is an object. I thought you were underneath, she says, but she can’t have been observing too quietly or too wetly. The simultaneity of what is being said and what is being said; the closet, taxi, or bus, and the cup, glass, or plastic.
What is drunk has been lifted except for a straw except for what has been handed to one. Many things if said are unlikely to have been repeated. This is the only way to remind myself a we is how actions are performed, she says. It is impossible to ask a question. To brief one by the sink. The coat one wears indoors. What is now known to be something—furniture—that can’t have been accessed in time to make the intended difference. I am looking for the other end of it, she says. The first thing that is said to me can sometimes be what I haven’t said, he says.
“If I am telling you now that I went to the airport then I have been to the airport. If I am telling you I am holding the two side by side,” said Susan.
“It is taking off—a nape is like this—in forty-five minutes. A gesture that lingers because we become it, and its spreading through the body. This is a mathematical, an interpersonal, and a romantic question. Anyplace isn’t a seat if you’ve never sat there,” said Sam.
“The realization of being in a room. The ceiling is crowded with insects. Confusing what was or wasn’t flickering. To have said goodbye both people must leave feeling the other person felt said goodbye to,” said Susan.
“If I am jogging my memory, a type of re-invention therefore constant—or had I kissed her?—lacing up: any metaphor can become itself if separated from itself. A winter coat is an example of this, or if I have an idea and forget it,” said Sam.
“He is kissing me on the forehead a couple of weeks ago in a taxi cab. I am cold. He was taking back the hat. I am leaning. He was kissing the place where my head was now being cold now warm now sticky. But now he is on the plane.”
“The unacknowledged physicality of stairs. And how do I act or not act this out, ignore or not ignore what I am or am not acting out. Or reflecting on. Taking and controlling. The unacknowledged physicality of stares,” said Sam.
“The terms of a kiss are that both people leave having felt that the other person’s tongue was partially leaving the other person’s mouth. The unacknowledged compulsion of this. Holding a scissors and fearing it. Time is traipsing in this way, logically like foliage. Is it a matter of acknowledging it? Embracing it? Palimpsest? No: if everything fell all at once, I mean.
“No one who isn’t with someone says dinner time. Passing overhead a cloud now a duck, imagined conversation is the only kind of conversation—now very many ducks—I remember with any specificity. This is what I was thinking when I got on the bus,” said Susan.“
Is citrus sour because we imagined it that way, or is a lemon a quality like tense: one type of a pause gets one type of a response, and one type of dream gets one type of a waking up. If I don’t try to lean over but it happens anyway, what is responding and what is ignoring?” said Sam.
“By now I am sucking on a lozenge that is nothing more than a thin disc with a hole in the center. Playing with the negative space with my tongue. A shift in lighting from stairwell to threshold—not yet being inside the door, but opening it—not yet opening it but starting to press the keys—through a sort of looking—and playing with it with my tongue,” said Susan.
“A shift from the shower to the small rug next to the shower. Wrapping in a towel and losing the sense of its citrusy-ness—maintaining the sense of its wetness—but losing the sense of its pulpiness. And if I was kissing her in the shower, was it mine or hers? Is this any different if I try it in the mirror: initiating the movement of my tongue and lips? A loose molar in the back of the gums. Playing with the negative space with my tongue,” said Sam.
Adam Greenberg grew up in Woodinville, WA. He crochets text-blankets and installs them on benches around Providence, RI, where he is an M.F.A. candidate at Brown University. His work has recently appeared in the Brooklyn Review.