Exhalation: An Existential Stream of Consciousness

I am partial to half-used journals. I don’t allow myself the first three lines, already occupied by the font I have dubbed Gloria after its writer (who most likely was not named Gloria) or a hasty birthday message for Chris (who obviously did not appreciate the notebook). It seems I haven’t outgrown training wheels, need reminding that I am not the first to jot a recipe for joy in the margins, nor will I reach the final page. I must not ache to be the last, must heed the rusty screeching of pressed fiber to grow in its stead, for it cannot-and I am sorry. To tattoo flesh like tree bark faces is inherently not enough, inherently inauthentic, inherently necessary. My words, my brain, my existence weave through a series of wide ruled knee high walls, always disregarded yet somehow stalwart as the dykes on the beach of my thrice great grandfather, over which sand and children spilled. I’ve found this world too expansive, too broad to comprehend in planets, so instead I dot it with places, my places, darts on a globe I fear destroying with numb fingers and fidgety aim. When I wished on button and pond because they were all I had at the time and sufficient in place of penny and fountain, it was to sprout helicopter blades and a form durable enough to push the confines of my room out and out and out until they are no longer beams and bolts and boards but the hydrogen and carbon and oxygen of atmospheres. Here I shall wait for my lungs to breathe purpose, breathe anywhere, for right now they are young and eager and forget that haste makes us dizzy. Disoriented delirium where letters are dust on eyelashes and volumes of library rejects block each exit because I couldn’t bear the thought of them alone-me, alone. Some covers refuse to budge with either disuse of distrust but maybe if they’d let me in, their old book smell would press upon my chest the definition of exhale. I’d like to write this and my name repeatedly between the bedsheets in fingerprint ink, similar to the way I remember to remember those who may have slept on my side of this ancient bed-but then I worry they’d rather be forgotten. But their cartilage etched the grooves made deeper by my own, forged deltas into which midnight ideas trickle, belonging as much to -more so to- bleached bones in river graves. Fish carcass cast off dock, flung from pudgy, pinkish hands, ribs catching on hangnails like a latch. Never closed, the cage hangs gasping from my ceiling for I know what bars feel like and can’t doom the Nothing There to a skeleton’s fate. So the door remains open as the mirror rests across chasm of Empty Space, the real reason I don’t dare inch a toe past the mattress’ foot. But at least my eyes can confirm my reflection’s blurry presence, unclear due to misplaced glasses or lack of something else. At least I can wring wrists together until joints pop. At least calluses don’t mask the vibrations of vocal chords I’m afraid to use. At least the tremors travel through cartilage to pen so that I may scrawl:

I am Here. Capitalize. Underline. Believe.

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