I saw madness come in the stars as eyes, your face appearing as I joined the lines. Prophet took me light years forward into another universe.
Prophet saying in another life I could have you. On the train to East Bay I rode a comet imagining we had different lives.
This time we'd hold each other, worship the small things. I'd look at your eye through your camera lens, find your soul.
Find your feet with the arch, red bridge linking cold land to cold land. Man on the bridge leaping to his death. San Francisco that was me.
I took you under the tree behind the university in a car that was my father's, your ring scratching marks into the leather, diamond ring.
An act that led me standing with my face against Marin. Wind can take a body down like a leaf into water.
Because I was thinking about your ring. You had found the hardest key to lock my universe into itself. I could only see you by comet, after.
In the car, I had said, “Imagine we are in a different universe.” Promises did not exist here, so you could not have made any.
But after I took you, you still wept for breaking a promise to him.
I said there was no need to weep, unless you weep for accidents, which means you'd weep for everything.
We met accidentally. On the back of your neck at the music hall, a line of spots. Morse tapped out by planets. My finger against that skin.
Sure, turn and be angry. That slap twitching in your tendons could beat to music. But what you saw was gentle. I have gentle fingers.
Gentle fingers take slaps out of angry fingers to make them gentle too.
Gentle swinging bottom to the music, up at the counter when they played the Lennon. You were peace, the anger gone.
Peace lying next to me.
Saying that you can lie about nothing. Saying you had to leave. Saying that you had someone else to go back to.
Pieces of your body breaking off in my hands, that's what I dreamed after you left. The next time I saw you you were wearing that ring.
This is what I tell everybody: that the movement of sun and moon takes a full day, but they're moving at incredible speeds.
I tell you diamonds came from the colour of the stars when they lose their twinkle.
The next time we met we were face to face across a table of broken rice. The blank seats ghosts of our children, children's children. Real dreams.
We spoke of real dreams, of astronauts gambling millisecond light years with their lives. We spoke of eternity, love, your brothers' names.
Things that do not change at will, like a comet's path.
We saw each other after dark. Dust falling off our bodies blazed starkly. The pieces of your body in my hands, after, were grey.
Which is to say what I had left were memories.
Each time you left, loss the size of a full-blown moon emerging from shadow.
It takes a full month to wax and wane.
So let me turn for help to the prophets and angels. I wanted to find wings, be my own spaceship. If I land to land lightly.
Believe in the logic of science, not of the heart.
Spent my nights oiled to the knuckle, metal in my palm, built hollow bones to wear on my back. Men have always wanted to fly.
When one rises above the earth, one rises above pain.
I took those wings and a taxi to the shore. Wingspan like a wandering albatross. No taxi would take me but I begged. Birds must find a nest.
Cramped Yeti father beard curled to his tits took me in. Folded my wings against the windows, asked me where I was going. I said outer space.
He asked what I'd do where there was nothing but space. I said I'd do moon landings, be the scar on its face. Make the shadows you'd see.
Or work as a moon's dove, seeding sunlight back to earth. On my off days fly by comet. Find my girl on her off days. Her day job as a wife.
Yeti father drops me off, wishes me well. I unfold the metal on my back. Overlook the roiling water.
My hand cupped on the iron of the red bridge like a mouth on your foot. Gentle fingers make a sucking noise.
But I didn't jump. Yeti father screaming behind me telling me I was out of my mind. "I thought you left." "Are you fucking crazy?" he said.
"Come here," he said. "I love you man."
Strange Yeti father shepherds boy with giant metal wings into his cab.
He said, "Is it for a girl or some dude you love?"
I said nothing.
He said, "It's not worth it man."
I said nothing.
He said, "Heartbreak is routine."
I said nothing.
He said, "Can I buy you some pizza?"
Yeti father takes me southwest through Presidio, along the cliff-edge on the bunkers. From underneath the tires of cars, there was the view.
Big blue. The bridge thing over there. And gulls. Always gulls. A 350lb man wore an orange T-shirt, throwing hotdogs to the crows.
Beak through meat, the skin of the hotdog pierced through. That was what I wanted, jumping into water, my body piercing the skin of a wave.
Because no I didn't jump for the girl. I didn't jump for a broken heart. I jumped for another universe, hidden below the water.
In that universe, lives are not lines, crossing only at a single, overlapping point. Not lines, parallel, the space between infinite.
I screamed to Yeti father, "I want destiny to speak to those she plays with!" Who decides when a breath starts and ends and ends for good?
And when do we meet someone whom we know will meet again?
Yeti father, beard to his tits, said, "That's just the way it is."
Because sometimes we will never meet again.
Because not all cabbies turn around to save a boy with wings.
Time goes forward, that's just how it goes, where it takes us is a great unknown.
It takes us to Ocean Beach, hot wet sand where you are always alone. Huge, infinite distance is a pack of waves that pull toward the clouds.
To today, where the sun stretched on a quiet street corner, the loudest thing there, colour of driftwood and every square inch beautiful.
To here, where quiet and soft-spoken and gentle people know you by their fingers and eyes. Yeti father, hand on my shoulder.
Eye into mine.
I got a small bowl of squash soup and a hot apple cider and sitting down, Yeti father told me about the end of the world.
It was dark as the inside of a shuttered eye, a place where no one could enter, not your wife who would leave, not the stares of passersby.
The inside of your head a haze of tears. Sometimes induced pictures of a long gone past. Drink, I'll drink to see the blocked out stars.
I used to live under chandeliers, ate with silver, slept under down. At the end, I cut my feet on the glass and feathers walking out.
"When you're alone, you’re alone right here," he said, pounding over his heart.
Sometimes with the acid. Sometimes with pills. Some bought entry into a brand new world.
But you’re alone in those worlds too.
And then you’re down. And then you come back to life. And then still, you must go on.
You start with a flower, or blue sky, or a bowl of squash soup. I started with a call to my ex-wife. I said sorry for the darkness.
I said sorry for the darkness that would not leave me, for my mind that looped in circles. For the weepers, those mornings that made me cry.
For the wolf in the corner of our room, the animal waiting to tear the sad meat from my bones, I was sorry for having this wolf.
Who stared at us through those long, long days.
Her voice, clear as a sky I had to start with. Sunspot shading me from the burning.
She said, "We tried. We all try. But we try apart now. You keep trying."
Yeti father, putting down his pizza. "I'm trying," Yeti father said to me. "Now you try too."
Yeti father beard to his tits. Weeping boy with metal wings. Prophet takes you light years into another universe…
In the Ferry Terminal, you have put the smoke down, let the orange fizzle, the ash rolling from the flame. Your heel comes down. Crush.
Now, both of us, hands empty, look at each other. You put yours in your pockets.
"So this is it, Roger," you say, like in a music video. Post-Backstreet Boys. Abstract stylish.
And though I think you will come closer, you do not move.
My father bought off a Russian and tomorrow we will blast off on two stolen spacecrafts. Looking out on the vast Bay water, I plot my course.
I imagine us, still in love. We speak of helmets and safety gear, an alternative language for romance.
“Do you have your crap space food?”
I look into your eyes. “I do.”
We look at the water. Everything glitters like a handful of fallen stars shitting dust on impact. Your fingers play with your blouse, red.
My eyes, zooming into the fibres, find a constellation of molecules like the planets we will traverse.
Between the sunlight reflecting off minor dust bodies and the bright cosmic waves, we will head in two directions.
To spend the rest of our lives apart.
From end to end, the distance between Mercury and Mars at its closest point is 105 million miles. So this is it. I can hear the music close.
The music of a universe winding down. I imagine many tender variations of the things you could say, beginning with "Roger" ending with "me".
But of course, you say nothing.
Silence like a test-run for take-off.
And you say, “I’ll make it to Mars?” I say, “I’ll make it to Mercury.” The sun between us, yoked together in a single line.
“We will make it.” Though humans die before a light year ends.
“Don’t lie,” you say, although I do.
Because you must imagine more than futile space, more than spacecraft spinning into horizonless dark.
More to this than necessary adventure.
A real reason for a lifetime apart.
There are myriad objects that fly through space as though drawn by destiny, the splinters off a distant world, inhabited by other life.
There is the dust of a million years, passing through the ages, a universe's entire history writ small.
Yes, there will be miles between us, on spaceships ricocheting far into the blackness. But at one point, we knew each other, touched.
Imagine the tree out by the university, the poplars clapping, the music hall where you slowly danced, the moles on your neck.
The turn to me in the quiet evening, SF summer, cold on my back. I am with you. I am with you. I will be with you here.