Friday, June 25, 2021

Gravity and anger

25 June 2021

While dreaming, he floats from here to there, guided by a mental joystick. On waking, he fights gravity to get up from his chair. Anger is like that: we fight it like gravity, but gravity never gives in. A woman in a muumuu stands in front of her old car in front of the relay station; I remember the car’s bumpersticker is about nukes at Pohakuloa. I already heard her screaming at a dog, a chihuahua who comes to investigate us, tail between its legs, torn between our smell and its owner’s loud voice. When she sees me, the woman smiles, greets me with “aloha!” At the corner of Maile and Maile, we make a triangle with two large dogs, their owners unable quite to control them. The man with a husky mix uses his foot to push his dog away. I hear a woman yelling “NO, NO!” and see a pit bull pulling her to a seated position. She doesn’t know if she can stop her dog, asks me where we’re going. We choose the road left vacant.

Lilith dives into the ginger, smelling pheasants and their young. She isn’t angry, nor is she hungry. She’s programmed that way. Computers made to be possessed of instinct only; the AI machines recognizes patterns, but sometimes they’re the wrong ones. A pitcher’s sunscreen marks him as either a sober adult or a cheater, maybe both. The limitations of my iPhone camera mean I cannot take still photos of batter or elephant (if I were to see one); instead, I gravitate toward the still angles that move only when you see them in the photograph. The camera’s movement before the photograph makes the image of a magnolia blossom, its pistil capped with a yellowing petal, move. Movement before meaning, unless of course it comes afterward, in the case of the video replay. The triangulation of a foot reaching for the bag, the baseman’s glove leaning toward the ball, and the umpire’s eye meets the passive gaze of a camera lens, which must then be interpreted by someone we can’t see, in New York.

“Buildings simply do not fall down,” a mayor says, of the building that fell down. Folding cards or pancakes, the balcony railings fall along with concrete and rebar. One apartment, shorn of one wall, reveals a bunk bed that hangs at the precipice like a bad dream. It’s reality we can’t imagine; our dreams are perfectly ordinary. That I put up bookshelves without screws, and that they fell down, is more reasonable than a condo building dissolving within 30 seconds. She was upstairs in her house in Kalapana when the 6.9 hit. “We got a trampoline,” the young cousins sing.

Did I dream his road rage? That might give him latitude, apart from my reciprocal anger, the kind like a wall against which you hit a tennis ball and it faithfully returns, so that you can slam it again against the difficulty of a response that never fails. They don’t tell you that when you learn another language. You’re prepared always to answer, tell your interlocutor where the train station is, or even that you don’t live here or speak the language. The option of silence isn’t given. When the answer is mute, and there is no wall, just suspense. The guy across the loop has hung loops on which to swing in front of the water catchment tank, green.

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