Glenn Ingersoll – In Spite of Some Promises

Glenn Ingersoll

In Spite of Some Promises

To the river I drew my life, bound its feet on the bank, and gave it all the
momentum of my shoulder. As it struck the water the wind’s songs split and
tangled and some flowers, bobbing, rose into the air where monarchs caught and
bore them away. It was gentle on its genial side, half the smile dipped in tea. The
anger rode low, scraping black algae from logs on the bottom. There was a bird,
a bird, a bird, then sorties ill-arranged and those whose details had kept the
parties up an hour past the usual hour. You could tell by the cloud some clips
were tight, some loose, some cozy, some caused twinges, the distribution not
come up with via one of the methods I’d studied. Not that I’ll insist I remember
everything. No, there are surprises among the Hummels. Wet, steaming, the sun
spun on the head of the delegation of nails. My life was a bud or a seedpod,
either way there was a lot inside and between that and the world’’s remainder
interposed a tough layer. Somebody needed to be protected, despite some
promises of the omnipotent, not to creep to and hurl ourselves over the rim of
that. Not with the wings arrayed above us in chevron and cloverleaf. The thunder
of ten thousand plum blossoms pounding the earth. An ounce of prevention,
mucus in the water buffalo’s sneeze, a diamond in a sack of wet clay.
              I saw life in half with the rotating blade of a shark-toothed nostalgia. I don’t
live here, I tell my biographer, scanning with a flashlight the recesses of the
playground, chunks of bark to cushion a fall from the monkeybars, a name hurled
like a dark at the face amid circles. That’s not my ring, loose as rings always
were on a finger like mine. Rings expanded away from me, thinner, less effectual
as they reached toward shore or reed. Even a cattail stood stalk-still among the
waves from my splash, and you know how they startle. Close it back up with
staples; rice, bread, milk will satisfy the mouth. I know what I’m talking about,
witness to the domestication of hunger, fury, and yearning.
              Afloat for awhile like a bubble or a boat, like a trial balloon. Like weather
over Earth’s stiff crust, slick of water over stone. Like stone adrift on stone. I
could like this, meat over bone. I could extricate my dream from the tree and bite
it again. But I’ve taken to riding my life, even with its bound feet and Mona Lisa
cheer. I’ve walked on the eggshells used to scrape away the grime of centuries
and some of them stuck to my skin. Around Robin Hood’s barn I tracked the
arrows and picked up a few pointers. The monkey thought ’twas all in fun. I could
not appease what was merely pleasing. Eek. Tee-hee. Wart.
              Mole. Mule. Evening. The evening out of what protrudes, nubbin of branch
planed to uniformity with the trunk. I slept and, as water jumped in my face, woke
and spluttered. Against the ropes that bound me to my life I pressed. I smiled and
what passed for a smile in my mind on my face ground like a fault between
continents. It was very dramatic in geologic time. In real time it was one lip
against another, contending or attending. My world rocked as under it the wakes
of larger bodies dissipated.

This is a world of waters, I said to myself. A world of waters. Waters in which
waters are whirled and a world apart from the surface world. Urine, spit, blood,
juice, rain. Dry, the tongue tastes nothing. Spill. Spill this. Hold it. Spill this. Catch
it. Spill. Pour. Sprinkle. The smallest water the wet eye sees drifts on thick air;
globe, globes, tens of globes and thousands. Dampen a shirt, skirt, collar; add
weight to the sweat of your skin. Weight and leak.
              What do you see, turning to see? What do you turn to, one oar out of the
water? Turn over the water, the rest on it.

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