aren’t 8:30 am almost-breakdowns right before you have to go to work just the best
THIS IS A PIECE OF PROSE
BUT THIS IS ALSO MY LIFE
Mostly Annie knew when she was drifting. She had wonderlust, she’d joke. She couldn’t help it. Her nomadic mind traveled with or without her permission, and took her thoughts great distances in short whiles. She always got those comments, questions: Annie what are you thinking about? What’s going on in that head? Are you alright? Are you with us? Where’ve you gone?
She seemed constantly secretly deep in thought. After laughter, after joking, after singing, dancing, whatever—there came that seriousness, that concentration. Her features became focused, still, sharp. It disconcerted certain people—amused others. It troubled her, much of the time.
Much of the time she really wasn’t sure. The sharpness of her face would smooth away into a smile. She’d laugh at herself—that she’d done it again. She’d drifted and she hadn’t even realized. Why hadn’t she even realized? She’d say that was what she was thinking about. And then she’d rub the back of her neck, or scrunch up her nose, or strain her fingers through her hair, although that was tough, because sometimes they’d get stuck, catch knots, and she’d feel stupid, even more insecure.
Once she tried to explain her difficulty answering: It isn’t that my mind is empty. It’s a river of thoughts, a great wide river of running thoughts. I can’t touch just one. Can you put your hand in a river and touch just one—just only one drop of water?
Maybe sometimes she was thinking of the way the light could catch the dust, streaming in between wooden blinds on an April morning. Maybe sometimes she was thinking of the missing item from the grocery list she’d written up that morning. Sometimes maybe she was thinking of a story. She rarely shared a story. She rarely shared any of these kinds of thoughts with curious parties—it seemed too mundane, too arbitrary.
On a date once, after she’d been told she seemed to be elsewhere, seemed lost in her head, she tried to just shake her head. Okay, I was thinking, she said, when further pressed, that I should stop by Target on my way home for dishtowels, that I really hate the idea of cleaning the toilet and that next week the weather is supposed to be warmer so maybe I should pull the fans out of the attic. There’s also this coffee shop on Mafford Ave I haven’t tried yet and it occurred to me the coupon I got online expired yesterday…
The subsequent lull was terrifying. Why’d she been thinking that, she thought. Her face spreading with red, she touched her napkin to her lips, and excused herself to the bathroom.
Do you ever really think about how big and wide and far and pervasive the sound of thunder is, she asked her father, as they drove on the interstate on a perfectly sunny April day.
No, he replied, switching on his left turn blinker, and merging left.
She turned her face away.
Then there was that dinner she attended. She thought maybe she shouldn’t have attended, five minutes after entering. She stood to the side watching pairs and trios chat, not knowing how to interject.
She saw another woman come through the door, pause, look a little overwhelmed, then resolute. The other woman walked up to a pair of strangers, opened her mouth, said something, and all three smiled, shook each others’ hands, started something new.
Annie strained her fingers through her hair, looked for the punch bowl, loaded up her napkin with four more purple grapes.
Annie knew she was a drifter. Couldn’t help it. Tried to joke, but to herself, she often urged: Come back to earth, come back. There are people here—they’re looking at you. Speak to them, say something—but not anything. Reach down and dig down for those words you’ve heard them use before. What are those words you’ve heard them use before? Come on, sift through the river, sift. What good is this river if you can’t share the water? What good is all your thinking anyway?
tell me something i don’t know
and need to.
i hope you find who you’re looking for
for life infinite
His and through His
To be an artist, you have to nurture the things that most people discard.
when you open my
favorite book of poems
there are flowers inside
ready to fall
i put them there
items i loved
inside an item i love
when i am quiet
(i’m thinking often now
about my quiet)
i am pressing moments
between the pages of time
to preserve them like petals
of a still-living flower
i need to write more