Friday
May262017

Alice in the Field

Elise Levine


 

After, we exited the mountain. Fog grizzled the road. The tins on our backs clapped. Semi-blind we bore it all and at the bend we slowed then crossed the river. On its far bank, Pretty and Pitou straightened their skirts. Pretty had lost her shoes.

We rested, ate. First swallow, last swallow, nothing in between. A2 was there, still with us. A too. Together we bowed.

How convey such love?

I stood and smoothed my own skirt. I rummaged in my sack. Observed to myself that my instrument needed polishing.

We moved on.

 

That night we lit a fire and toasted Pretty's tattered right foot.

 

Even now these tastes come and go like glimpses of a place where peoples parade in furs. Their boat decks are broad. Oars narrow, with blades fine as the facets of a diamond engineered without lust or greed.

All this is maintained in the literature.

What is not, is what follows.

 

We wept and laughed. We heaped kindling and blankets and precious warm clothes and bonfired under stars. M and A thumped stumps. We cooed. Days we traveled forests reserving tears like tar for Small Dolly nailed to a charred oak. Large Dolly spiked on a scorched pine. Stoned flat on a narrow pass, Dolly In-Between.

A Great Lake later, we roasted M's heart.

 

The day came when I alone straightened my skirt.

Next, the next mountain.

 

On a rare bluebell morning I returned alone to the valley. Stopped to rest by a low rock wall. Had lost my own shoes. Dug in my sack. My instrument required outright replacing.

I rose and resumed my walk, led by faint then louder sounds of piping, timbrels. Soon I attained a cold green meadow. Youthful limbs a-tangled in sinuous dance. Clusters of long-breasted grey heads chatted. Sparse-beards poked forefingers to ears and grinned at the clear sky.

Bitterness swept my blood. I shook out my uncut hair. I shut my eyes the better to see.

Snakes, I shouted. Stones that glow, stinging crawlers. Fine houses once patrolled by peacocks now vermin run.

The music skittled to a halt. I farted and took the opportunity to cheat a glance. Of all I've seen, nothing has ever scared me so much.

 

I skirted a path that led to the village and in the village I found a church. That's where I stole the car.

 

I drove, dread in me like a wrinkled balloon. Still I drove on. Wednesday Seventh Month. Friday Year Ten. I can report gas stations closed. Brisk trades in underpasses. More mountains filled with fog. Too dangerous to stop. To miss you all like crazy.

Sallowday Eighth. This snow. This wind.

 

I met Rose. Where. Swooped out of nowhere on a steep curve. Leave it at that. Hailed from the Six Cavalcades whereas the Various Eastnesses begat me. Rose. We camped in abandoned mansions. We pushed memories of cake between each other's sharp teeth.

Rose.

 

We also talked. I missed Pretty and A and A2 and the others as well and the missing was a gear grinding in my throat.

Yes, Rose would respond, folding her long skinny arms around herself, soft mouth curved like a beak. Oh yes. Mother's rape occurred on a train. Old St. John to Near Halifax, crossing the river valley. Years later, in a hospital in Lower Montreal, dying, my mother stretched her arms, reaching repeatedly in the air, thinking she was back on that train.

Dear Rose.

I know, she'd say, and crush my hand in hers. That fucking train.

 

And so the time came when I left Rose or she left me. No brainers. Always the fog. Always such snow. Until solo again I came down from the passes to a rotting village and breasts bound fathered twin dogs. Smoke and Smoke. They passed. And I in silence passed of a sort too.

 

Ninth Moonist Year. Found a horse, rode hard, call me lucky. On the high plains, where nineteen types of grasses rippled in the ninety winds, what was in my heart cried, but my mouth slept. I took Farther North. Spring came late then later. Fine by me. By a barrens I moved into a crumbling apartment complex on the outskirts of a brand-spanking empty airport god-huge for what reasons I couldn't, just couldn't. I wandered the ancient buildings I now called near-home. I fixed the leaking pipes. I maintained the cranky boilers. Pushed mop and broom and pinched filters from cigarettes. Nights, Rose floated through my locked apartment door, locked bedroom door, bathroom door, exposing her grin and slow tremble, and in this way I knew the even worse.

She was paler now of course. Under-bite more pronounced. Her, not-her. Wouldn't show those strong hands, kept them behind her skinny back.

 

The Ten Longest Months over, I stood outside the complex in a fair rain. I'd washed and ironed my skirt. Donned a cape of blanket and plastic sheeting.

For a few seconds, in grey sequins that matched the mist, M and Pitou paraded across the vacant lot adjacent my building. They vanished with no trace.

Rose joined by A2 and Pretty flickered at my old apartment window.

I left before they went out.

 

Peoples with shivering scales for lips. Also a scorpion-spider bucked onto the page of a book a daughter read on her deck in the back of her house in New Richmond while a green sky stretched around her, turned tangerine. Her night brought Ophiuchus the Serpentarius, the thirteenth, exile.

Someone's mother's beloved Montserrat under ash.

Someone's mother's fox-thrice-played-with in the weeds blooming by a house on a hill in Old-Timey Rothesay. River town, river smell.

Silent forms.

So I arrive. At long last. Snow falls in the mountains, Argentina.

 

For you, darlings, were loveliest of them all.