February 1, 2016 Comments Off on Collide By Will Zentmyer
In the dark, I can imagine that the buses are angels, carrying people out of these endless tenement planets of rotten wood and broken pipes that spew out polluted effluvia. I can imagine seeing them go, the warmth that would come over me if the muscles in my face could stretch into what they used to call a smile, if my face could do anything but perform animal twitches and spasms.
It’s eleven p.m., a singularity paired at the crossroads of fate, and I am sentenced to die here.
As I stand on the slope above the city and try to find the stars beyond the haze-enveloped sky, the bus that was supposed to take me home collides with another and a tower of flame bursts out of the darkness. The sound is the screaming of Hiroshima, passed into my consciousness through the replaying of my father’s memory.
He is the bombadier in a floating fortress, the finger on the trigger of a mechanized valkyerie whose mission is to drop a little boy into the open mouth of sleeping silence. I watch him laugh the delighted laugh of a child when the plane bounces up after releasing its payload. He laughs and laughs and laughs, having discovered with visceral surprise that, for one instant in his life, he is weightless in a limitless blue aurora.
In this instant of slow collision, in twisting metal and shattered glass, in spilled oil and blood and the random, spontaneous combustion of human life, I find that violence is an old language, passed down to us in the words of our fathers. As it is passed to me, it silences me. I want to become lightning, to scorch the weeds, to raze the buildings in this valley of Gehanna . . . to obliterate the wreckage, cancel out damage with damage and heal destruction with violence. I want to wash it all away in flood, but I cannot.
Instead, I hold my tongue and watch everything burn, and in the hollows of my self, where I might once have felt sorrow — that dried-up reservoir where tears once stirred — an age-old chill takes up residence. I can see my body, and I become aware of how shamefully thin I am, like a worm burrowed deep in the roots of a tree. All the rewards of my carefully accumulated time and energy seem like so much twisted scrap, formless and without meaning.
I am let off the mooring ship of my thoughts and driven into a prison cell built of impenetrable solitude. Somewhere above, through a narrow aperture, the dark sky shines a scattered melody of stars. My eyes scan them in desperation. I cannot read them, but I feel the somber tones of a requiem descending into a place within me beyond even this darkness. My blood vessels drain, and the hollows of my bones fill with icy water as my body sinks into the broken concrete.
© 2015 Will Zentmyer
Will Zentmyer was born in La Cañada, CA, and because of the proximity of the wilderness to his home, he grew up spending a lot of time exploring and writing poetry and stories using the words he overheard (but didn’t quite understand) from older people. In 2011, he moved to San Francisco, where he studied Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, graduating with a B.A. in 2014. He currently lives in New York City with his wife where he explores ways to highlight the magnitude of people’s internal thoughts and experiences through surreal imagery.