Amidst the defeated shuffle of hospital gown pant legs, rubbing against one another as the nurses and podiatrists pace the length of the cold rectangular auditorium, a deflated, yellow balloon beneath white bedsheets is being periodically pumped full of air, and is then allowed to exhale noiselessly and completely, until it is pressed flat against the bed again.
I say balloon because it’s easier to imagine him as something that might have been fitted to a helium canister and permitted to float away, should he will it. Yellow, perhaps as a result of the iodine steriliser rubbed into his skin.
It is clear to me however, that in this moment he will not soon be levitated. Flowers have been made up in quite a hurry. From Safeway or Fred Meyer’s, I suppose. Although the question of at whose benefit becomes hot and tangible, and it burns deep into the centers of my cheeks when a nurse moves frantically past the bouquet at his bedside once more. This man won’t enjoy a hallmark, plastic-wrapped arrangement of flora ever again.
There is death in these daffodils.
“T-boned,” I hear one of them say.
“Left ocular cavity: collapsed...” another tells his physician.
I can see that the man beneath the bedsheets is turkey to them. All they’ve left to do is begin drawing up diagrams, deciding where to make the cut, and what there is to salvage; who is going to get the dark meat, and who is going to get the wishbone.
The map learns to accommodate chaos.
Despite the growing holes near its tattered seams ripping out countless miles of Mexican real estate and despite the sharp red ink that marked our previous route smudging into blurred over-reach, the map still controls most of its detailed lines.
Not me though. My lines are falling apart.
Susana stumbles in with a tired smirk and reaches for a simple hello – which I return – but then continues on with a web of tiny giggles and goofy tales. I scrawl the days route on a slip of paper that I stuff inside my front pocket, then fasten my sunglasses.
“Almost ready?” I say while folding up the map.
“I – yeah.”
You see words were our forte. I use were to describe the past. They had spilled out organically ever since we met. They created a friendship that made a mockery of time. The length of time we'd known each other was short, only a few weeks, but the depth of our bond made it seem like we'd known each other forever. This had a lot to do with words.
You have to understand that on most days if this idea was brought up, it would digress into a long wandering conversation on time and eventually circle around to past lives. It would go something like this:
Structural Damage was founded in 2017 by Hannah Jade, a photographer, and Vincent L. Byrnes, a poet. SD, Hanoi,VN/Portland, USA based, will be releasing it's first issue on Nov. 14, 2017. We are looking for the following: poetry, short stories, essays, visual art, photography, reviews, and interviews. The editors favor art that is iconoclastic, deeply personal, and honestly, a bit strange. You can find out how to submit under THE FOUNDATION tab. The editors are excited to see the brilliance that you share.