Lighthouse Heaven

A collection of writing by Flannery

The 5th of July

Today was the day we took a break. 
I was ill and writhed in pain all day, 
alternating between making myself sick, 
and getting sick all on my own. 
The pain in my head sounded like a train 
trying to slow down. 
And sometimes I feel so frantically urgent about you,
I turn into a junkie on the nod in the middle of a good story, 
the room melts away, becomes your body. 
And only after I can pull the pieces of being with you 
together in my mind, 
I feel no compulsion to smile or nod, 
remember names or faces, 
or feel like less of a woman 
in my offbeat anonymity.

I am just glad that I told you 
about how everything I’ve written 
since we’ve been together 
has been, at least a fraction, 
to you, you, you.

Categories

There is no measure of pretending to save us from ourselves 
when we are bored or we wake suddenly 
to morning bright light; I must be someone else. 
It is difficult to locate like a steady colored light: 
its all-encompassing glaze 
fated to fade to grey.

This life, this afternoon, 
is my first pageant 
and I must believe 
that I can do something 
that I will be someone
you do not believe I could be.

Layers of dry dirt cling to the windshield, 
pixelating a view that will become clearer 
when I hit 60 miles per hour 
driving at a steady pace away from you.

Upon returning, I can see 
the context of the room precedes us 
complicating our stories 
and the various categories between us.

I think of the way your hands dismantled my spine 
as I lay flat and open before you 
and somehow my thoughts are well-ordered, 
like a perverse rendition of the Dewey Decimal System 
where I and you and light refracting 
in my mind I am frantically list-making 
counting the number of times 
the color yellow has been important 
and what I might buy for you 
in a hospital gift shop 
but let it be a museum gift shop 
and let it be that the people are 
just watching and waiting, 
searching for some history.

The Commute

The sun strobed through the increasingly naked trees. The flashes of light came down hard on my eyes like black water rushing into the crevices of a wooden barrel. I squint, for a second, as my car takes the hairpin turn around the mountain. (Around the large hill.) And I can feel sleep grip me. My eyes feel sticky and as the road opens up to flat solid ground with beat-up wide pavement, a collection of dried leaves tumble across the road that lay before my moving car. It was as though two dozen origami frogs had been released into the wind. I wanted to stop and think about it, but the car was moving and stopping to think was not an option— the tires had already crushed a few of the frogs, leaving behind brown paper shards in their wake. Fallen comrades; more fallen than before. I am driving the same drive I drive almost every morning. Almost every morning, the car moves forward and without stopping I think, “Is not stopping the same as going? Coming? Does a destination count as such when it is the same every day? Or does it somehow become the other side of a plane with you, the marble, rolling back and forth with the tilt of each coming day and night? When is it enough? When is moving forward, alone, in a vessel, enough?” I cannot stop to think these things.

Happy Birthday, Bailey

Bailey asked me to text her when I got home 
(After braving the roadways in New Jersey for the first time.
After taking the ticket myself and paying the tolls myself for the first time 
(Just me and a lady who wore her glasses atop her head 
encased in a stand up blue booth 
whose gaze rests on the space between my head 
and the ceiling of my car— 
where my glasses might sit, I suppose, 
had I not been wearing them))

We did not sing happy birthday, 
instead we watched her nerves rise up from her ankles into her fingertips 
and we knew that the nerves meant happiness, somewhere, 
and knew also that just because she looked elsewhere: 
into her hands 
at the insides of her eyelids, 
through thin tears, 
did not mean that she did not see us.

When I began the text message, 
still sitting in my car, but home now, 
outside of the townhouse now— 
I wanted to ask her if she knew why 
that stretch of I-95 smelled so strongly
of buttered movie popcorn,

but I only had 160 characters.

So I pushed the numbers on the keypad to spell out:
“I am home safely.”
but the auto-text-word-complete-let-me-make-that-easier-for-you
function on my phone spelled out instead:
“I am good sadly.”

and I could not decide which was more true.