Conditions of Existence
CONDITIONS OF EXISTENCE.
By Ted Hayes.
Just below the surface of the water, where it’s not very deep yet, the rocks and pebbles shimmer inexistentially, a dream of reality shifting and warping, a seeing that disappears when his eyes close, but then reappear to him, all the more erratic and time-defying, yet all the more poignantly and painfully real. In the dream, he’s looking into her eyes, into Alice’s eyes, on the other side of the looking glass. Alice is ill-defined sometimes, except for the face (every detail; eyes of green with a hint of gray and vice-versa), and the dress she always wore for these occasions (which is every dress he knew of). He’s blinking, he doesn’t know why, because he can’t feel himself blinking. You can’t feel yourself not existing, he idly speculates to himself.
But he’s blinking, or she is, or whoever’s dreaming the dream is. He’s still wearing her charm (which is to say, all of them that ever touched him), he can’t feel it but he knows it’s there, and he has all her eyes to reassure him. They (the eyes, Alice and the other) are looking straight at him. It makes him breathless. That penetration makes him lose consciousness of the rest of his body (of which he has none to begin with). So there’s the eyes, the thing(s) in her/their hair. Those are a kind of charm, too. The dress(es), those fantastic wings of trace-paper, make him particularly weak with memory; they hurt his back with the weight of it.
Now things are moving: things start shifting, and everyone involved, all one of them, begin to move closer together. Presently he can hear their breathing, not his but distinctly theirs.
“Yours is a deadly composite,” he utters wordlessly.
When he feels the hand on his chest (nonexistent) it almost gives the dream a hernia from the strain. Things are really slipping, now; not just a dissolving, but a [con/di]vergeance of all of the times, all of her. When her face draws near to his, when he can feel the presence of it, he kisses it, with the consequence that the seeing is set back, becomes more difficult. He’s blinking again when he does this, and he runs out of time on the meter where his body is parked, so when he opens his eyes sometimes he has to start all over again, or just get out of the car/body.
But there’s the hand, all of them he ever knew. He’s not holding it, nor vice-versa, but it’s there and it’s definitely on his chest. It’s actually a precise preposition: ON, not above or over or next to. There’s not even proximity involved, for there was no space to transgress to begin with.
So he can be absolutely positive it’s there, because of the burning. He almost feels like she’s speaking to him, but he’s sure she’s not, as sure as the hand. That clarity he swiftly demolishes when the vertigo sets in, and the times and places swirl away counter-clockwise, it’s an incredible collage, camera-angles he never experienced with his “real” eyes, when it starts to mix with the pure invention of his mind, his stomach begins to strain with the purging.
It is a dropping from a needle-point eyedropper, blots, smudges, tinting the swirling decoupage, more, more. There are lots of smiles, in fact, many of the shavings of unreal memory reoccur, recur, repeat as in a film loop that fades, evades, returns. Smiling, she (they) look up at him, it’s definitely slow-motion. There’s nothing any of them can do, there are no conditions for any of their presences.
Sometimes their foreheads meet, except when this happens, he’s crying, or she’s dead, or it’s a different dream; it feels like it’s not so much Alice as a ghost-Alice, though he knows in his fickle heart they’re all one, together, alle zusammen.
None of the images or fleeting kisses last long, they’ve swirled away, he can’t keep them around. Now it’s the hand(s) again, then the face/s, eyes, a leaning forward on the toes, a glimpse in a mirror, gut-wrenching never-photographs. He’s revisiting, his arm over his eyes (neither), he’s walking through the door. There’s something written on his hand (nothing.)
Maybe she’s waiting for him inside, either way she’s beautiful, she might not exist. In the mirror, he can’t really count them. Miridian is lurking in there, he can see those eyes (his eyes), and why should one be less real than the other? He’s stepping past it. Narcissus falls into the water, the other side of the water. He’s falling up, the gravitation is arbitrary, the prepositions are completely relative (but precise and certain nonetheless).
He’s leaning over her face—now it’s just them. If he kisses her, he remembers it backwards, but it doesn’t matter, she’s holding his hand, squeezing it even, but unknowingly. She doesn’t even know it’s there; that much is important to him, that she doesn’t think about the conditions. When she ponders it, acknowledging her existence, it destroys. It’s his/her paradox. It’s not her fault. But this time she doesn’t know and will never (have) know(n).
He keeps putting his arm over his eyes, to help. If it doesn’t stay, he even tries pushing it.
He’s leaning over, she’s inverted, he descends on her lips.
would (not) have been
could (not) have been
has since been
the first time they kissed. His arm off his eyes, leans forward, the light is bright, kisses her. The squeezing of the hand. He’s pressed next to her now, (see?) they’re lying on a blanket or in the endless white snow, inside but alternately outside. It’s both/all, really—-you know, he knows, she (they) doesn’t (don’t).
The stars are in communion with her, they have been since the beginning. It’s the abundant white snow of her bed. All is silent but for the trees. Sometimes the kiss happens, but never outside, too painful, it’s not his place, not the place. It never happened. If only it wasn’t necessary to make her real—-he’d leave the arm off. He’s forcing it, he’s relenting.
But no, he thinks, that’s one of the midpoints, it’s not over yet, it’s never over, it hasn’t begun, it never started. Alice’s multiplicity, her plurality, faded away for the most part in that time, but only photographically, only sensually, because they’re all still there, waiting for the next round to begin, hiding and revealing, ready at any moment to exist to him, for him.