Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Bustling City


May moved into a white bungalow with a doorchime that rang like a clue. She felt noble in it and stayed, washed her hair in the sink, twisted in new blue bulbs. It was a chosen time; she had chosen it, over Tuscany, over the seaside, over even the patch of land behind her grandfather’s hill with larch and seclusion. Now was a time, she reasoned, of curious surprises—of Belgian licorice and snappy radio shows, of shysters and oboists. Later, she would have her books and elephant tea. Later would be another kind of time.

May has chosen to recover from an infinite sting. Her heart had been pitted like a morel during a permanent goodbye.  She lives in-the-arms-of-the-mastiff and forgets to mind newspapers and appointments.

The world is frank with obligation. May hollows a squash and roasts its seeds; the linens, forgotten on the line, quake busily. Her house is one in a string of lights. The mane of her coat arched over the chair grows familiar. It is not the coming here or what it might become, she thinks, but the pattern of whips and shimmies in leaving.

May stitches herself into the new city with a spider’s wheel then sets out for the observatory. When she was a girl, May would play with amazement by heading into the forest near her house. She had stopped once, stood very still and said to herself, “no one knows exactly where I am at this particular moment.” Taking a few more steps, she had felt large and small, untethered.

Tonight she watches the eastern veil of Cygnus die, the dusty pelican nebula throwing off its red hydrogen gas as if the stars too want to have done with wares and influence. After a white dwarf has burned off all its radiation, she learns, it will become an invisible black dwarf, detectable only by the wobble of nearby orbits. There are no black dwarfs yet. May unlocks her bike and rides home, thinking of that private death for which the universe waits.