Tuesday, February 13, 2007

east of the sun, west of the moon

It was my favorite: the girl walked around the world in iron shoes. It was a way through. It was what she did to get back to him, return to him, the one she had looked at in the light.

Once, the professor who inspired that movie stopped me in the hallway. He had in his hand a copy of the school literary journal which I had edited, badly. I was sure he was going to complain.

Is this you? he demanded, thumb on the cover.

The cover was a black and white photograph of a girl in a white nightgown standing on a lake’s surface, some arty class shot, her eyes closed.

Umm nooo, I said.

Dominic tapped the cover. I thought it was you. I thought if there is anyone who can walk on water, it’s you, girl.

These days, it’s hard to believe I can walk even on land, hard, stinking, bubblegum-black land. In succession in the deepest pit of the subway, I see a giant roach, a homeless man bandaging his swollen feet, a pigeon with a broken wing. Two more pigeons land. They are impossibly dirty. How did they come to fly this low?

I will make it. I will smile. I will write. I will stay happy and healthy. I will live here, as I can live anywhere, and not just live, thrive. I will paint the walls yellow. I will pick up each and every penny. I will call the guards by name.

Yesterday, I carried a paper cup of hot chocolate for an hour and a half, on two crowded subway trains, up two hills, without spilling a drop, without tasting it. Because the flavor was made that day only, because it is your favorite, because you are a white bear.

And because I can do anything and do. I climb the glass hill. I clean the tallow from the shirt. I love. I write without looking back, because I have to, because I can't not try. I turn the wings into arms, each and every day.

Avoid testing me, world. I pass.