I need to be corrected distantly, to know my door from the wall, and closely, to know my own hands, and the whiteness of the price tag paper from the ink of the $7.95, which is too much to pay for paint, lo though the shop is cool like a cave and slaves were chained in the basement, I taste dust past spoilage.
It’s $35, which I just pay, because a year ago I left my groceries on the conveyer belt’s west end and lied that I would call my bank Four years ago I thought about buying gallons of juice or not, bearing four pounds upstairs, and over time, juice pulled my hand out of my elbow, and I was off to physical therapy, extreme cold and sonogram waves and spiderman tape pulling my joint apart.
I miss Brooklyn like home but my inherited couch, idle roommate cracking a yawn, my darling cat, none are any longer within reach, and the reach doesn’t matter because if they were closer they can’t be grasped.
Corrections for distantly and price are toric: curves, multipled, to change views.
The Euler characteristic is the space a shape needs, no matter how it is pulled, tweaked, nudged, dyed, snipped, disappointed, enraged, rehydrated, disenfranchised, unsung, completed, gaslit, broken out, broken in or misinformed. No matter how it masturbates, overeats, loses consciousness, bleeds, forgets, or yells, “And another thing!”
Topology is what is no matter what you do to it: angry, intimacy-shy, self-preserving, free with shrugs and reluctant to promise, wary of texture, amenable to black dresses and yellow paint and ceramic surfaces and immersion in water and shoulder locks.
A donut and a coffee cup are identical, topologically. Not thinking about use, or ingredients, tints, questions, answers.
A one liquids into the other, geometrically.
I am selecting “Safari” and typing “nyt” mouse I am, for a treat.
I am going to get more pencils, crouching next to you who put your head down, “are you tired or sad?” words we learned, slapping cards with names on a desk for attendance, “not here,” student volunteers, “good, good, good,” I say, “nice snake.” Bathroom passes, entire life bathroom passes, sign like a doctor at bottom, date, look up at time (mostly kids aren’t telling time in English via clock with hands), the micromoment I locate your name in my head, you are…. “Miss!” “Miss!” “Miss!”
I am what people who voted Republican have done.
I am never actually believed I’d turn 50 with student loans, in the file, “no, really, America wouldn’t.”
I am I don’t what I think I am I’m not.
In the hammock, unborn, hanging a curve to the earth, on rickety porch planks, expecting to fall, someday, baby.
I am what used to work.
I am must needs be schoolteacher, saving the souls of your childrens and knowing you can treat me any way. Any way. Free shrugs. Tears are lucky. Just let me forget things, evaluate that I gave a shit all the time.
A century of students in and out my room, one shows photos with a gun it looks like he can barely bear, and he is six foot five. Mothers in hospitals who will never get visits from their daughters who cry on the desks in my room.
And I live with rocks in my shoes: they should never have come, it is ill, it is wrong, live in garbage, live with poisons, live under guns, live without knowing to read, without roofs that keep rain out, find a job after they stop hiring you at the factories, factories for young women, fast, pretty, ten fingers. There is no better, live under a few rich masters who drive drugs through your home like waves of cattle with blades for feet and knife ears and poison spit.
Topology does not include when you pass through yourself. Or open holes. Or fill holes.
I allow myself, sit next to the girl holding the crimped tube, and she holds my hand, I can have this thing. Finished with her sister’s hand, she has mine.
Her hands and nails are blunt. Both our faces are covered, I still wear a mask, every day, all day, I just do, nowhere else, but school with them.
She holds my left hand, and I am still. I nod at kids, get a book, get headphones for listening, and I sit real still. It feels so good to sit. Home, it takes an hour or two for my legs and feet to return.
Circles, dots, then double arched petals on the center of my hand, back. Half lowers under my nails, short and ragged, three dots toward the main flower.
The Muslim kids leave to pray during Ramadan. When Ramadan ends, they are to stay in class. Sometimes they take the corner and go to the floor.
The folded tube is flat. The substance makes black trails.
I never say anything. Hello how are you bienvenidos yo no say; caliente frio school tomorrow, snake, sneak, snack. They like to call out the wrong answers when we review, humor hard to reach without words, but snakes don’t have six legs, caterpillars eat chihuahuas.
She shows me a flat tube. Design complete or is it gone? Two weeks. That night the top, the black, flakes off and the stain is left.
Image: A Bejeweled Maiden with a Parakeet, ca. 1670-1700, India, Metropolitan Museum of Art.