Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 16 • Winter 2005 • Poetry

Printing on Water

Heathen Machinery

chapter one: condensation.

i felt you before i saw you. i didn't know what i was expecting, but i sensed you gathering around me like some people feel the rain in their bones. i didn't see you walk up to me, you were just there. it was the first time i thought of you as fog.

the first time we kissed, i pressed into you and worried that i might lose my balance, so i leaned a hip against a nearby mailbox for support. i was worried that you wouldn't like the taste of my lipstick. you tasted like my own tongue.

we moved from bar to bar that night. you told me stories because you wanted me to know everything. i was shy and laughing too loud. do you remember? but, we were coming together like clouds already. when i set down my glass, my hand was outlined there in fog. then it was gone.

chapter two: precipitation.

when rain falls, nothing stays dry. Even the cozy indoor places behind locked doors get damp. water seeps into everything. it covers the cars. it makes puddles. it feeds rivers. rain gets its way, in whatever form it chooses to take. you can't stop it. you can only pray for it when it's not there.

i have a fear of falling. when i dream about it, i move like raindrops through the sky. it's always cold and the clouds sting where they touch my skin. after a while, I get bored with screaming and flapping my arms against it to see that falling is almost pleasant. maybe it's the landing i fear.

i like sidewalks after a rain. i love the smell of clean wet concrete and the way it bubbles and hisses as the sun comes out. i like to think about you when you were smaller, your knees and elbows wet, your ear to the sidewalk to figure out how the sound happens. i love your ears.

chapter three: evaporation

when i think about you, i am reminded of the way steam rises and escapes and the way it licks up the sides of coffee cups and leaves behind little droplets of itself. i sometimes think i am covered in these droplets of you.

i am unsettled by the temporary nature of things. i told you once that i love chaos, but that is not exactly true. i have a deep fondness for order and systems and cycles. and yet, i don't see how they apply to me. one thing is certain; water is a constant. we are nothing without it.

being in love with you is like writing my name on a fogged mirror. i enjoy the impressions i have made there, and i try not to think about forever. i will write my name fresh on you every day. i promise.

chapter four: erosion

the lack of you licks away little pebbles of me; my arms feel skinnier, my heart feels thinner. everything that was once so firmly rooted to me floats away, all those words drawn on you swept off in the dirty and relentless trickle. it only takes a little bit and then the damage is done.

teaching myself to fall out of love with you is like unlearning my own name. the trick of the task is to properly judge how much of yourself you have to lose and how far you can be whittled down until you are nothing enough to start again. i was not enough already.

the spaces between my ribs already gape with the vacancy you left. they hinge neglectedly on the line of my backbone. i'm waiting for the stream to pull them away.

Heathen Machinery spends vast amounts of time fidgeting with her hair. When not fidgeting, she can be found either debasing herself for nickels or giggling at something that nobody else can see. She recommends the mani/pedi as a life-changing spiritual experience. Heathen Machinery has never accomplished anything of much importance and stores her body in San Francisco.

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