Undefinitive (Part 3)

The Years Spent at a Modern University
When a blanket
hid the grass
A star hid the sun
Looking up the sky was blue
Looking back so many clouds.
Whispers of Immortality

Thoughts pile up
Jostling against one another
Waiting to be pushed apart.
Standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold.

When a dragon falls from the sky.
(Time patience discipline)


Once there was a time when things were simple. Dreams were created and followed. Happily ever after lay right around this corner or the next one. The beginning should be followed by a conventional ending. The princess should have her prince who had slayed a dragon to free her.
Yet a third year followed the second and the middle became an ending. The middle had been a beginning, as those dreams and images had carried over, but now what was there? Did the story end there or did something else happen. One race was over, the story may end, but life continues.
Now, life isn’t fair. Those who say otherwise are selling something we can never own. Occasionally, though, something happens and the world is at peace, but most likely it is moving towards some uncertain goal that can only be termed the future. Brokenness isn’t something we like to experience. It doesn’t mesh with the ideal life. If we are not happy then we belong on some afternoon talk show where we can vent our frustrations and rejections and then be healed by the masses who are trying to do the same thing. Construct their self from a fractured world of bad images.

All that is gold
The brilliant one. The golden one. A dragon that shone like the sun. An elusive creature that could read your ideas, your thoughts, your dreams, your very soul. How many spent their lives searching for such a creature? Wizards, enchanters, mages, warlocks, clerics, kings and princes would spend their lives searching for, waiting for, dreaming for such a beast, yet most would never even catch a glimpse of one. A golden dragon would appear to the unsuspecting, the unasking, perhaps even those considered the undeserving. To serve them and to protect them. A mentor, a guard, a confidant, a golden dragon would act as all three until, like Puff or Pete’s Eliot, the time came when it was no longer needed.

The Unexpected

Sometimes when everything is quiet and still we wonder where our lives have gone. There were a lot of still moments in her life now. Things moved more slowly. The summer had been spent at home in Cleveland with her family. The return to familiar surroundings and faces helped to ease the ache, but she wished that things could return to that last September, when the world had been full. She spent the summer helping her brother recuperate and making a few trips to campus. Mainly to find an apartment for the coming year, but also to see her friends. She tried to avoid going outdoors, for while there had been plenty of rain in the first months of summe by the middle of August a drought had set in. The trees all seemed so tired, yet they were waiting patiently for rain to fall so that they might lift up their leaves to the sun. Finally, in September the hot summer began to cool and she left the numbing heat to return to another year of work.

Ponderance is upon us.
If I were to state it thus,
A call of a bird
into time.
A cold wind
A cruel wind
Blew upwards and through
The clocks were busy

From c8reiger74@mcsa.mox.cwru.edu Wed Sept 22 03:14:44 1993
Date: Wed Sept 22 03:14:44 1993
To: cstevens@guardian.ucs.bradun.edu
Subject: comó estás?

I’m finally settled back in at Case. Things have been so hectic, but my parents, believe it or not, have been very helpful. My mother found a bunch of prospective apartments and took pictures of them and sent them to me while I was still in Peru. After we made a decision my dad even made the lease arrangements. Sounds amazing, like something out of an Eddings novel, but it’s true. The gods must be smiling on me for some bizarre meteorological reason.
But it feels good to be back in the states and a bit bizarre. Consumer culture is so different. I mean it’s almost painful. And everyone is still a year older only I didn’t age with them, but I am also a year older. I don’t know–I’m babbling as it’s so late. Just wanted to check in and let you know I’m alive and no longer limited to llama mail.
Let me know how you’re summer was–did you manage to start training again? Do you think you might run this year? How is Brian? Are you still writing? So many questions I know. I’ll let you go at that.


“Professor Benchley, hi.”
“How are you?”
“Good. Just moved back actually. How was your summer?”
“Good–went out and visited my family in San Diego and then a few conferences.”
“And you?”
“Moved back home and helped my brother–he was in a car accident last May.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“He’s all right now, but it was pretty bad.” “How’d it happen?”
“He swerved to avoid hitting a dog and the roads were wet, so he lost control of the car and wrapped it around a telephone pole.”
“Ouch. Anyone with him?”
“No just him.”
“Ah…so what classes are you taking this term?”
“Two English seminars, a biology class and my last Spanish class.”
“That’s a lot, I thought you were on a sports team–What seminars?”
“Realism and Medieval.”
“Who’s teaching them?”
“Carlson and Schook.”
“Carlson should be good. She knows her stuff, but I don’t know much about Schook.”
“What about you–are you teaching?”
“No, I have the year off to do research. Well actually it was suggested to me that I use this time for research. I was offered a position teaching at Georgetown but it’s not until next year. Anyway, Joe Murray and I had the idea to write this book on Joyce but finding the time was next to impossible. Now it may work. But hey, why don’t we get together and have lunch sometime?”
“Okay, sure.”
“When are you free?”

“Caroline–it’s Steven.”
“How are you?”
“Okay–just got in from training.”
“Oh, sorry. Do you want me to call back in a bit?”
“No that’s all right.”
“How far did you ride?”
“Just twenty. It’s really windy out. How’s Roger?”
“He’s okay–at work I think. Have you heard from Elise?”
“Not yet. Has he?”
“No, not yet. Listen I was actually calling to see if you’d want to go out to lunch or catch a movie.”
“This afternoon.”
“I would only I already made plans to meet one of my old professors. Sorry. How about tomorrow?
“No, my dad is coming in.”
“How long is he going to be here?”
“Through the weekend.”
“How about sometime after classes start?”

There was an emptiness that had left her broken. Nothing seemed able to fill the vast expanse except perhaps fear. She wondered about the loss of her dreams as she drove to the restaurant. She felt so alone, so unable to even speak sometimes. She missed Elise terribly. Weekly letters just weren’t the same. And Steven? She didn’t know about that. He was always so quiet around her that she didn’t know what to say even when she wanted to say something. The trees overhead rustled their aging leaves and she thought how sad it was that summer was once again over and another winter would be setting in. Such a cold season. So bleak and unforgiving. Nothing to be done but work and wait for the spring.

“Hi, did you have any problems finding this place?” Professor Benchley asked.
“No, you gave good directions,” replied Caroline
“Have you had Indian food before?”
“Yes. Actually, my friend Steven loves it.”
“How spicy ?”
“Fairly hot.”
“Good, let’s see what we’ll order then.”

“Professor Benchley, when did you start here at Bradely?”
“First, please just call me John–I’m not your Professor anymore–and I taught here for two years. Was offered the position of instructor right after I completed my PhD at Michigan.”
“Really, I didn’t know you went to Michigan. My step-father went there.”
“It’s a good school.”
“Did you do your undergrad work there as well.”
“Oh, no. I did my masters at the University of Illinoise and my bachelors at DePauw. How about you–have you thought about grad school.”
“Not really, no.”
“You should, if not for English then perhaps professional school.”
“I don’t really know what I want to do.”
“Well, now is the time to start thinking about it.”

“Wait…I have one for you…how many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?” asked Caroline.
“I don’t know–how many?” asked John.
“One to change it and fifteen to form a support group.”
“Ouh…that’s good. How about this one: how many women with PMS does it take to change a light bulb–six.”
“It just does, okay?!”
“Okay– how about: how many real men does it take to change a light bulb?”
“How many.”
“None. Real men aren’t afraid of the dark.”
“You like that one?”

“Okay, it’s my turn to ask,” John said.
“Ask away.”
“Why did you decide to come to Bradely?”
“Where did your brother go to school?”
“Northwestern–but he had scholarships like you wouldn’t believe.”
“Ah–what about pets?”
“None here.”
“At home?”
“Dog and a cat–when I graduate and settle somewhere I really want to get a cat.”
“Why not both?”
“I figure I’ll start with a cat–they take less maintenance. Do you have any pets?”
“Me–I have fish.”
“Yeah, I have two big tanks. One with saltwater and a second that’s just freshwater. You’ll have to come over to my place sometime and I’ll introduce you to Greta.”
“She’s my freshwater stingray.”
“Anyway, back to my questions: why did you decide to become an English major?”
“…well I guess partly because I enjoyed the English classes I took my freshman year more than any others. I mean I didn’t fare so well in math and the thought of having to take physics or chemistry just scared me shitless.”
“Have you enjoyed it?”
“What I’ve done–yeah, I’ve liked. But I only took one English class last year. This is the year where I’ll be doing most of the work.”

“Well, thank you very much for lunch,” said Caroline.
“I hope you enjoyed it,” said John.
“Yes, it was very nice.”
“Good. I enjoyed it too.”
“Well, I guess I’ll see you around the department them maybe.”
“Uhm, well–Caroline, I’d really like to see you again.”

“How was your father’s visit?” asked Caroline.
“It was all right,” replied Steven. “How was your date?”
“It wasn’t a date. And it was nice. What did you and your father do?”
“Mostly he lectured me on how he isn’t paying almost ten-thousand dollars a year for me to be getting C’s in every class.”
“What did you say?”
“What could I say?”
“Did he ask why you’re doing so poorly?”
“What did you tell him?”
“That I don’t go to class.”
“Well, at least you were honest. What did he say then?”
“He just continued on without really taking much notice.”
“Oh, well how are classes this term. Have you gone to any of them?”
“Yes, actually I’ve been to all of them this week. Even my nine-thirty.”
“That’s only two days worth.”
“I know–so are you and this professor guy going out again.”
“John and I–I doubt it.”
“Oh, now it’s John.”
“What else would I call him?”
“He’s a professor isn’t he?”
“Yeah, but I had him as a professor a year and a half ago.”
“He’s not my teacher, he’s sort of a friend.”
“How old is he?”
“Thirty-one I think.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
“Nothing, at least you’re over eighteen.”
“Steven, be serious.”
“I am being serious. He’s too old for you.”
“What if I were twenty five?”
“Then he’d be thirty-six and still too old.”
“I’m not dating this guy.”
“No, not yet.”
“Look, I’m not going to argue with you about this. Be reasonable. I had lunch with an old professor on one occasion. That does not make an illicit affair.”
“No, but it certainly looks like the start of one.”
“Steven, haven’t you ever spoken to any of your professors outside of class?”
“Oh that’s right, how could you. You don’t go to class.”
“Did he ask you or did you ask him?”
“To lunch–did he ask you or did you ask him?”
“He asked me, why?”

Beneath my thoughts
a nothingness runs
From which dreams well up
But thoughts are drowned
I remember
only images in passing.
Yet I believe true martyrdom is difficult
to achieve.
I dreamt one night
of a moose’s head half-decayed,
but not yet dead.
It spoke to me of the horrors it had seen,
but where they were it never said.
I remember the thoughts and the dreams.
I am surrounded by
the whispers
and the disease.
I alone remained
but could not remember
and fear is a common thing.

“Have you finished the redraft of that paper on Barthelme yet?” John asked.
“No, I’m still trying to rework my conclusion.”
“What do you have so far?” he said as he began massaging her shoulders.
“Crap….That feels nice.”
“Are you always this tense?”
“What? Oh, yes. Carry over from running I guess.”
“Let me hear your conclusion.”
“Blah blah blah…If you just read the passages and allow the words to flow through your head eventually they start to bump into one another and begin to connect with others–Uhm that’s nice–Single sentences, especially in the dialogs, collide with other single sentences. Connections are made and what once appeared to be a load of bullshit begins to make sense.”
“You’re right that’s pretty shitty.”
“It gets worse: the individual characters are indeed companions on a quest, and it is through them that Al not only buries Dad and finds Mom and the Golden Fleece, but he also finds a part of himself he didn’t have before. He changes, and isn’t that what life is about?”
“I know.”
“Well what are you trying to say?”
“I don’t know. I mean when you think about it we all have Thomas’s and Julie’s, Edmund’s and Fathers in our heads. It’s just we have different names for them.”
“And has then been the main point of the paper.”
“Sort of. I mean that and the idea of the quest.”
“How long did you run?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean how many years?”
“Oh. Since I was eleven or so.”
“That’s young.”
“I know, but I just seemed to be always getting better at it–unlike these essays.”
“Why not try re-reading your introduction and re-formulate some of those ideas. See where that will get you. What is that?”
“That’s supposed to be the word individual but I didn’t spell it right.”
“No this thing in your shoulder.”
“Oh, that would be a knot.”
“A knot.”
“A knot?”
“Patch where either the muscle is really tense or there is a build up of lactic acid.”
“Sounds wonderful.”
“Okay: We need them and many others like them to make sense out of existence. Whenever we question what we were told is the way of things, whenever we search for our own answers we must leave a part of ourselves.”
“Universal but better.”
Actually if you do that right there–yeah that feels really good–that knot will go away.”
“For how long?”
“A couple of hours.”

“What movie are we going to see?” asked Caroline.
“It’s up to you,” replied Steven.
“I’ll go check the paper,” Caroline said as she walked into the kitchen.
“There’s a new Holly Hunter movie that is supposed to be good.” Steven called.
“The Piano–I know,” she called from the kitchen, “but I promised John I’d see it with him.”
“oh…really,” Steven mumbled softly to himself.
“Let’s see–Adam’s Family Values…” Caroline called.
“Too many warped relationships,” Steven muttered to himself.
“…In the Name of the Father…” she called.
“…The Firm…”
“I bet he is,” Steven mumbled.
“…The Fugitive…”
“If you were eighteen….”
“…Remains of the Day…”
“What’s that one about?” Steven asked loudly.
“It’s the one with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. He’s in love with her but will never tell her.”
“What’s at the dollar theater?” he called.
“Let me see–there’s Shortcuts…”
“Certainly making a few of those,” Steven muttered.
“…The Age of Innocence…”
“I think we’ve left that,” Steven mumbled to himself.
“…Jurassic Park…”
“That’s where this guy should be.”
“…What’s Eating Gilbert Grape…”
“What’s at the Art House?” Steven called.
“Uhm…Farewell my Concubine and Schindler’s List…”
“What’s Schindler’s List about?”
“The salvation of Jews during the Holocaust.”
“That sounds good.”

“What’s wrong?” asked John.
“I don’t know,” replied Caroline.
“How did you like the movie?”
“It was really good. So sad though.”
“But, oh I don’t know…it’s just Steven. He can be so mean sometimes.”
“What did he do?”
“It’s just some of his comments.”
“Like when we got to the theater he asked if they assumed you were my parent or guardian when we see a rated r movie…”
“…and that’s when he’s being nice.”
“Maybe if you leave him be for a while…”
“I don’t know.”
“…use the time to concentrate on your writing and classes.”
“I guess.”
“Have you thought about grad school.”
“A bit.”
“Do you think you’ll go.”
“Yeah, I guess.”

It was a cold December day. A brisk wind blew across the quiet campus. Almost everyone had gone off somewhere else for the break leaving the stately buildings and barren trees to wait for their return. No snow was on the ground yet, but the grass was covered by a layer of frost that made it shimmer in the morning light. Caroline stepped out of her apartment door dressed to run. The cold air bit into her lungs and her breath turned to fog. She locked the door behind her and tied the key to her right shoe. She started slowly, at a careful jog. She wouldn’t go very far today–just a few miles.
She breathed with short shallow breaths as the cold air hit the warm moisture of her lungs and expanded. As her body warmed she altered her stride and found herself thrilling in the forgotten effortlessness of flight. It was an automatic, almost mechanical movement, yet she was never more aware of herself than at such moments. Her mind cleared and there was only the path before her.
After about two miles she switched from running on the sidewalk to the frosted grass. Her shoes soon became soaked through, but it was better than the pain that wanted to shoot through her legs at every step.
After about four miles she had managed to reach the safety of her apartment door. Her hands, numbed by the cold, gradually managed to untie her key from her shoe. They shook when she placed it into the lock, and the tears that had been frozen by the wind thawed.

From c8reiger74@mcsa.mox.cwru.edu Thur Dec 9 09:53:12 1993
Date: Thur Dec 9 09:53:12 1993
To: cstevens@guardian.ucs.bradun.edu
Subject: fire in the hole

I’ve decided that med-school here is so different from anything an undergraduate could ever encounter that had I known then what insanity is here now I might have stayed with my llamas. It’s absolutely crazy. The tendency isn’t just towards cut-throat attitudes, but it is the rule of thumb. Keeping your grades up is secondary to kissing faculty ass, as all of us med-students are expected to out-do one another for the honors of eating in the same room as the faculty. Scary thing is there are two fellowships I want to apply for but they’re also the two fellowships everyone else is thinking of applying for. ¿Qué se puede hacer?
Found a great quote for you though. Maybe you can use it in one of your papers.
“Está vacío Mi pecho, destrozado está y vacío en donde estaba el corazón. Ya es hora de empezar a morir. La noche es buena para decir adios. La luz estorba y la palabra humana. El universo habla mejor que el hombre.” It’s by Jose Martí.
Sounds like things with your older man are going well. My mother mentioned it last time I talked to her on the phone actually. She was shocked that you were in such an affair. But I said just think of him as mature. And it could be worse. He could be married. She still is all a flurry, why I have no idea. From what she says you’re parents don’t sound too upset. Although my mother commented that you would have done better to find someone with more money.
But it’s time for me to join the rest of the herd for class. Will write again soon.

“Hi Roger, is Steven there?”
“Caroline, hi. No, I think he’s at the library studying for a midterm.”
“Oh. How are you?”
“Good, just booked my flight for break.”
“You’re really going then.”
“Yeah, my parent’s even offered to help pay for the trip.”
“That’s great. Is Elise excited about you visiting?”
“Yeah, her last letter to me didn’t say a thing about her and how she was doing, but what we’ll do once I get to London.”
“Where are you going to stay?”
“Well, we’ll be traveling mostly, but I have a great-aunt who live outside of Oxford with her husband and she’s offered us rooms there.”
“I know. Damn British reserve it will probably be one room in the cellar and one in the attic.”
“No, just probably at opposite ends of the hall.”
“Yeah with a rottweiler standing guard between.”
“It won’t be that bad.”
“I know.”
“Listen I think I’m going to head out, but will you tell Steven I called please.”
“Sure thing.”

“Oh, hi.”
“Are you busy?”
“No, just studying.”
“Yeah, me.”
“When’s the test?”
“Next Wednesday. So what have you been up to?”
“Not much. Work mostly. I had three papers to write last week.”
“Oh. What on?”
“One was a simple essay in Spanish while the second was on Eliot and the third was about the myth and symbolism.”
“Did John help you with them?”
“Yes, a bit. He helped me with the third paper the most.”
“It was considered for a conference.”
“That’s good.”
“Would you want to read it?”
“No, that’s all right. I’m kind of swamped with work. Maybe later.”
“Oh, well I guess I’ll leave you to it then.”


“You, I thought I knew you.
You I cannot judge.
You, I thought you knew me,
this one laughing quietly underneath my breath…
The photograph reflects,
every streetlight a reminder.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night.”


Some wondered if golden dragons really did exist. Sightings of them were so rare that many skeptics argued they were simply a myth.
Yet the golden dragon really sprung from the mythology of the Chinese dragons. Those myths dated so far back into the culture’s past that the symbol of the dragon and reverence for it permeated all areas of the people’s lives. From architecture and art work to literature and myths. Relgious figures, kings, and the common people did not so much worship the dragon, but felt it as a force of nature.

“What’s this?” asked John.
“Just some stuff I’ve been working on.”
“Can I read it?”

“So, what do you think?” asked Caroline.
“They show promise.”
“It’s really not a but, you just need to work on it more. More practice. What’s there is rough but a good start. Poetry takes time and narration. Which reminds me….”
“I have a little present for you.”
“Come over here for a minute. I got this originally for your birthday last November, but I thought it was a bit presumptuous to give it to you so I waited until it felt right. Here, open it.”
“It’s beautiful.”
“I found it at an antique shop when I was at that conference in New York. Do you like it?”
“Like it? It’s beautiful.”

“…Ryman then uses the factual background to spin a fantasy that places the characters into a whirlwind of events. This tornado is the central image, but it is not the most powerful. The lingering sadness that infuses each story, each tragedy is the unifying theme that links all of the characters to Oz.”
“Not bad. What’d you like most about it?”
“The book? Probably the story of the original Dorothy, but it was so sad, it’s hard to read.”
“It’s always easier to read about others than ourselves.”
“I don’t think we’re all quite as messed up as he paints it.”
“Not always no, but at certain points. There are tragedies in every life.”
“Yes, my sage.”
“I’m serious. When you’re older and you’ve experienced more you’ll be amazed at how you look at things. Cynicism is the fungus of maturity.”
“I don’t think it’s all age.”
“Trust me, you’re still young. You haven’t had anything really bad happen. Life is still fresh for you.”
“And you have?”
“A few things.”
“Such as?”
“Well, I told you about my father…”
“…and you know about Margaret and what an effect the pregnancy had on me.–I guess that those are the biggest ones really.”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. It’s just sometimes I feel like the farm house that is rising up into the tornado.”
“How so?”
“Flying upwards on this powerful wind, but no idea where I’ll land.”
“Is that how you see it?”
“No, just sometimes.”
“What is it that you see?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on–be clear. None of this under-graduate self-loathing crap.”
“It isn’t self-loathing–its just sometimes–oh, I don’t know.

That Spring
Winter receded and Spring awoke the trees. Their slumber was not broken until quite late, so they seemed to be taking great pains to out-do one another. Apple trees were ablaze with blossoms while the magnolias had lasted longer than usual. The pink petals of crab-apple trees fluttered softly to the ground in the gentle breezes and the azaleas filled the air with their heady scent and the sound of bees. The thick white petals of the dogwoods and the tiny flowers of the oaks made it appear like snow had once again carpeted their limbs. Even the ground was carpeted with patches of crocuses.
Caroline relished the display of colors as she walked in to campus. Her plans for this upcoming year were laid out in her mind and she found herself smiling at such promises the spring was bringing her. In a week she would present her paper to the department. In another month she would be in England visiting Elise. Then it would be back for one more year of work. There would be grants and grad schools to apply for and she felt certain that nothing was unattainable. She could not remember a more lovely Spring.


“The signifier and the signified then together produce the third: we then have the sign. “To be or not to be” thus signifies Hamlet and his speech concerning death.”
“That sentence needs work. What do you mean by concerning death?” John asked.
“I mean…well, everyone knows that that is the idea behind the soliloquy.”
“There’s more to it than that.”
“It’s a fact–I mean everyone agrees.”
“Those who study it.”
“But how do you know the speech is about death?”
“The words he uses.”
“What words”
“That part that beings “tis nobler to suffer…”
“Whose words are those?”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, technically their Shakespeare’s, but Hamlet is the character that is speaking them.”
“So how do you know those words are about death?”
“Because they are conventions?”
“Conventions of what?”
“What type though?”
“A metaphor.”
“Correct, hence we understand the speech not because we simply accept that academia says death or actually suicide is what it is centered around, but because he uses a common literary convention that makes it accessible and universal.”
“So what should I do with this sentence?” Caroline asked.
“Try to rework the sentence now that you have reworked the thought,” he advised.

“John, what did you like about the poems I let you read? You never really said much about them,” Caroline asked.
“I liked the images. Especially in the one about fear.”
“What didn’t you like?”
“Some parts of them were awkward.”
“Uhm…sort of young.”
“John, I’m young.”
“I know. That’ll change as you get older. But you need to practice. Don’t get so caught up in being cute with the words.”
“Avoid the stereotypes. Poetry is best when it’s fresh, not just a collection of acceptances.”
“Will you look at one and tell me what you mean?”

“I really like this one. I don’t quite understand it, but I like it,” John remarked. “Where is the quote about Darkness from?”
“A really bad Tom Cruise movie.”
“Ah…why did you use she instead of I?”
“I guess for distance.”
“Don’t guess–you should know. A good writer always knows why they do what they do.”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean?”
“I just don’t think that that is always true. I mean did Shakespeare know what he was writing all the time.”
“Shakespeare is a conspiracy.”
“Oh really–that’s a new one.”
“It’s true. All that we know of him is from others. Reconstructions of his plays are all that we have.”
“Even if, was everything deliberate. A method?”
“Most of it, probably.”
“Don’t you think he, or they–I mean some of it had to be unconscious. I think we read too much into it sometimes.”
“Who’s we?”
“Academia knows what’s best…its job is to read and understand what writers mean or don’t mean.”
“Don’t they go too far sometimes? I mean, don’t you ever reach a point where you can no longer say anything new about something.”
“That would make literature dead…no there are always new ways to look at things.”

“John, do you think the presentation went well?” Caroline asked one evening.
“Yes, I did. It was a good.”
“It was such a boring paper though. I wish I could have presented the one I wrote on Ryman instead.”
“Why didn’t you.”
“I thought I should submit something more along the lines of the cannon.”
“What time is your plane Thursday?” Caroline asked.
“It’s not until twelve-thirty.”
“Do you want a ride to the airport?”
“Sure, that’d be good.”
“Do you know what time you’ll get back?”
“I’ll have to check my tickets. Think it’s around eight Sunday night. Do you think you’ll be able to pick me up?”
“Yeah, probably–unless something major comes up. I’ll be studying for my finals.”
“When are they?”
“I have my Biology final Tuesday and Linguistics Wednesday.”
“That’s it?”
“Except for a paper for my Oz class.”
“Do you know what you’re taking next year?”
“Yeah, Carlson’s class and the seminar on vampires, and then one in winter on the beats.”
“Anything in the Spring?”
“I don’t know…I was thinking of just taking a creative writing class–take it easy as that’s when I’ll graduate.”
“Good idea.”
“Listen, I have a question…”
“…have you–See I was talking with Clare she’s a master student–not sure if you know here. Anyway I guess word has finally spread in the department about us. Well, not that it is really any sort of conflict, but I am only an undergrad–I mean do you ever question why you’re with me?”
“With you?”
“I mean having this relationship.”
“All the time and hardly ever.”
“Cute–be serious.”
“I do, but not seriously.”
“Well do–I mean why were you interested in me at first.”
“Well, you’re beautiful.”
“Be serious.”
“I think so.”
“So you find me physically attractive.”
“Is that all?”
“No, I enjoy your company.”
“When–besides when we’re in bed.”
“Well, when we go out and see a movie or are discussing your work.”
“But we never discuss your work.”
“You wouldn’t understand it–we’ve discussed that.”
“How do you know I wouldn’t understand.”
“You haven’t read Joyce or Pound. You don’t have the experience.”
“You haven’t read half the shit I’ve been writing on.”
“No, but I have the experience to be critical of your style and technique–in any case I can usually piece together the text.”
“And I couldn’t do that?”
“Not as well no–you need more experience.”
“Then what do I have to offer you. I mean it’s a really unbalanced–it’s not a–what do you….”
“Caroline I enjoy being with you. You give me such a different perspective.”
“Is that what you’re doing–gaining a new perspective–recapturing your lost youth?”
“How can you say that! When you were my age what were you doing?…”
“…you were taking care of a family.”
“You always tell me how lucky I am to be free. To have so few worries. How you wished you could have been like that.”

“John, I can’t give you back that…
“I know that.”
“…and I’m not Pygmalion.”
“I never said you were.”
“But do you love me John?”
“I care for you….
“But–no I don’t love you not in the way you would want.”
“What way?”
“A way that would give us a future.”

“Caroline? what’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry.”
“It’s not that.”
“Not what.”
“I just thought….”
“thought what?”
“I thought you understood?”
“Understood what?”
“I thought we were equals, or would be.”

“It’s not that you don’t love me or that I want you to love me–it’s that I had this idea you understood me. You understood more than just what I try to write. More than just these papers or the words I fumble for or my interest in Biology or my interest in sports or even my ex-loves or how to make me cum I thought….”
“I do understand.”
“If you understood I wouldn’t feel this emptiness. I’d–I’d know that you understood parts of me I don’t even think about–if you understood–I would want a future with you–I’d feel complete when I’m with you–maybe then I’d love you.”
“You mean you don’t?”
“No, I did, sort of–it faded–infatuation.”
“What things are there for me to understand Caroline?”
“That’s just it.”
“That tone you use–you condescend thinking I’m so young what could there be, what could have effected me.”
“But you are.”
“That doesn’t mean things haven’t been hard or I haven’t had pain.”
“It’s true–my parents divorced when I was eight.”
“Yes, but that’s not unusual.”
“But it is unusual for a father to kidnap his two children when he isn’t awarded custody. And to try to leave the country with them–and when we tried, actually Brian tried to resist he held a gun to his head.”
“Yes, but you were so young.”
“So? Okay then–I mean this may not be monumental according to your standards–but when they told me I shouldn’t or really couldn’t run anymore I wanted to die.”
“That’s different.”
“No it’s not–don’t insult me like that. It’s my life.”
“I didn’t know you thought of it that way.”
“But I told you…”
“no, you didn’t—you just said you were eleven when you started.”

“You were so silent about it I thought it had just been a phase.”
“A phase? Didn’t it strike you as odd that I never talk about any of it–almost ten years of my life, day in day out and I can’t say a word about it.”
“No, not really. Why didn’t you?”
“God, how could I talk about it.”
“You’re doing it now.”
“No I’m talking around it.”
“Look, I don’t mean to be mean about all of this. I really didn’t know it was that important to you.”
“I know I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be this way.”
“If I’d known I’d have tried to help.”
“There is no help–It’s so hard. I can’t think about it without–I can’t even remember what it was like to run without trembling–the smell of mud or the desire to jump over a puddle instead of walking calmly around it–maybe the of my eyes when I see the sign for an upcoming race or see an article in the paper about the teams or races–my heart stops when I see a race on TV–I know I can never do that again. I see joggers while walking on campus and my throat tightens. I want to run so bad, and I’ve tried but it hurts so much. I’ve seen the X-rays. I know how much damage was done and I’m afraid I’ll never get rid of this emptiness.”

To run
It is a timelessness
When time is all important
Everything slips by
Leaving only images to catch on to
A dog on the path
Two lovers on a bench
that melt into boys
A bolting rabbit
Ducks that half-fly
out of the way
Thus you learn
a control
a power
an effortlessness of flight 

Part IV 

© 1997-2001 stega