I am animated through strings attached at each joint, each string continuing upwards towards the dark expanse above this stage. I let you pull me along, and I like where you take me. I have never seen such wonders as the places you have brought me to. More so, there is a string attached to my neck on one end and at the other end a can through which I can hear you breathing, whispering words to describe what I am seeing and what you want me to feel; what you felt when you were here, and for this I can only begin to describe how grateful I am that you pull me along on strings and strings of thought.
I wish there was a way I could talk back, but that would ruin the connection. You told me this years ago…
You show me the world outside and the world inside, both infinite expanses of time and space…and somewhere in that expanse is you, with a can and a string.
Hummingbirds float over a patch of red flowers, dipping from one and into another. Their wings are flapping so fast you say it would make sense for one to believe these hummingbirds are simply floating in space; to give in to the wonder of it all. You pull my string and I reach out and catch one of the hummingbirds. Its scared eyes, its beak pointing in all directions, I hold the defiant bird in my hand and I now see the wings that hold it afloat. You release the bird from my grasp and for a moment I don’t understand.
I don’t truly understand until the night I split up with my first love. (You whisper and I release her from my grasp and she flies away.)
You go quiet for months at a time, sometimes. The strings get a little slack from time to time, and I can feel muscles growing under my skin. They attach to strong bones and in those moments when I feel the line go slack I try to lift myself up. First it was just a finger…then an arm…the day when I could move my own head around brought me joy and independence but I felt I was losing you.
The years go on and one day an entire string falls from above the stage. I move my head up to see and squint my eyes for focus but there is no light where you are. I use my muscles and my strong bones to cut the string from my joint. Your whisper is getting fainter but you tell me that it’s okay, that it’ll be okay.
It is sunny. I am lying in my room with a new love and outside the window I see a dog rolling in the grass between the road and the sidewalk. We are on drugs and I am tracing the maze of her spine with my finger when I tell her, “there is a whole world outside we will never see,” but that, “what we get is enough,” and that “I’m happy with the way things are working out.”
Beautiful, how you can inject the ones you love with drugs just with the words you say to them, the moments you share with them. Stronger drugs take hold when she says, “It’s not often that fantasy aligns with reality, but I couldn’t imagine anything better than this right now.” I kiss her neck and after a little while we walk to the brewery behind my house and I remember that time when I was 17 in Burlington, Vermont, with friends who I loved and still love, in a pizza place that had a bar where I saw a couple lovingly sharing a drink and I imagined perhaps myself in their positions some years from now and here now in this local brewery with her I am living in the painted imagination of my youth.
I feel in me the spirit of that dog, still rolling in the grass between the road and the sidewalk.
By now my strings have all but fallen off.
I still hear your voice sometimes…but it is so faint that I can’t distinguish that reality from imagination either.
But I still miss that feeling, of being pulled along, and I haven’t cut off all of the strings that have fallen from the sky, so that some people I meet and trust can be given the end of a string and I can do with them what they want me to do with them. Pulled along by a string, talked to through a can attached to a rope.
I haven’t forgotten that this is all a stage. Sometimes I do, but I always come back to what you told me. I always come back to what you showed me.
One night I am sitting on my swing in front of the house her and I had bought and raised a family in. The kids were all moved out now. She is inside cleaning up dishes and the table from dinner. I hear the familiar soft clinking and clanging of pots and pans when just beside me another soft clink sounds out.
There, on the ground to my side, lies a can with a string that reaches infinitely up into the dark expanse. I pick it up,