Yes, I’m Still Here


If we failed to leave, there would be arrivals to pay. There would be insects and
train stations. There would be something to give and something to receive. There would
be a man whose whole life appeared in front of you without a word. There would be
odorless little turds of heart-wrenching tragedy secreted about his person. There would be
parties to misunderstanding.
The landlord, for example, squints at his island of shoes. “I have no more shrimp
cocktail,” he mutters. The landlord locks the cheap perfume of his superior attitude into
the artificial reluctance of a situation comedy. The orientation cables attached to his pale
body’s guidance system, which searches the clouds periodically for reflected
understandings of the manner in which we return to our own prior confusions, sometimes
catch in the pachysandra and fling beautiful tiny blossoms about as if he meant to
celebrate your absent good fortune.
There’s a miniature tailor living in his disturbingly posh dog run. The penthouse at
the top of his dog elevator was once called Willow Wind. His favorite mutt’s name is
Jeff, who stands taller than his tailor does. But what the resident intentions are, who could
tell you that? Intent remains well hidden. Some things can’t be said traditionally.
Of course it’s not so slapdash as it pretends, but if you want to look like James
Dean and act like Myrna Loy, who’s to notice the attached assembly of convicted
busybodies? And the neighbor can just go visit that pink-haired floozy in 4B if he’s too
het-up to speak to you without despair nasaling his vocals.
I still don’t have a hat, but my head’s larger now. The gossip’s no longer revolving
around a red-headed bus driver with an eternally pending divorce and a loud neighbor in
a dirty T-shirt. It’s more contemporary, like vitamin hair dye and a credit card key to the
padded restraints.
You could easily be gone, I say to myself, and as I say this, I could be gone
already. Someone far away knows this without the words and won’t call. He likes to
brush his teeth with construction paper, a different color every night. When he uses black,
he leaves the light off. It’s an experiment, he confides, but nobody knows what kind.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.