To the Artist's Page To our home page
To Dana Jerman's previous piece To Dana Jerman's next piece
His Heart in Long Division
Just like the picture on your student ID, you look hardcore tonight. Those safety pins match the tears at the bottoms of your khakis. The way you stand inside your skin and hair is turning my emotions into unsolvable math problems. There are fractions sitting on top of my heart and laughing like you do at the jokes the lead singer makes between songs about the drummer's mom.
The red light on both of our faces is making laws and breaking them all at once.
And second by fearless, uncut second I bounce along with you and the rest of this crowd to music that feels better when I close my eyes and morph us into languishing open mouthed kisses when I push your head back and entangle these fingers that wait, bunched in my deep pockets, into the lengths of your blond hair, fisting. Your hands remain limp, unengaged and at your sides and in their stagnancy your hips move to attention, almost announcing themselves, as your eyes do when they come again, wide open.
But the band is screaming, and attractive. And after I remembered to open my eyes I wondered if you had at all observed my rapture as I did your enthrall. You look over and smile when you catch this soft undercurrent of a glance I throw you.
And God is the hypotenuse of this familiar situation, I think, as we make petty algebra small talk going out to my car thru the brutally lit, silent and frosted parking lot at 2 a.m. By now in my mind we're supposed to be making out with just our pants on. The parts I hide underneath my dark wash jeans manufacturing and calculating grind against the same hips that pivoted around earlier in a dream between my ears.
You zip up your hooded sweatshirt, sinking into the leather interior as the pistons fire in the dark under the hood to start up the gunmetal gray Pontiac. Cool air pours into the cab and there is me frantically switching dials and shoving my hands in-between my knees as I lean forward to breathe onto the windshield making a patch of steam. It sticks like maybe it'll help the defrosting process. I am nervously defrosting myself when I look over and run smack into your smile. I've gotta move, first gear, we're gone. The silence is colored only softly as the CD of the band we just came from hearing plays at 1 on the volume dial. And even though they are loud, the quiet dipped in light noise means so much more. It could be the calculus of sexual tension, at least mine, perpetuating itself onto the situation. But after this awkward half-hour car ride comes the next, and I dread the moment where we reach your house and I have to use these legs. Part of me wants to do something stupid like lock my keys into this carnival ride of an automobile. God, you know it was build in the 80s. Maybe I could sleep on your couch knowing I'm just close enough. Maybe I could eat breakfast with your dad before he goes to work, and call mine to come with the extra key and leave, all before you awake.
I can't feel my hand when it mechanically, reluctantly reaches for the ignition to killswitch the engine. We get out and shut our doors, simultaneously, with a method that parallels our reflex in opposition. You seethe in your breath through teeth as the late January air makes its way into your warm car-heated lungs, only to ease out in a cloud as you re-zip your hoodie.
And we are on the front porch, the painfully green Astroturf underneath my black skate shoes is almost comfortable. I have no hoodie. My hands have found their solace once again inside the reclusive caves of my pockets. My left is fondling the keys I remembered to remove when I locked the vehicle like a reflex. Just like I remember to pull the handle a bit to the left to get the door to open correctly. The front door light is off, and I can hear the soft muffled rattle of a moth trapped inside, his heart no doubt cold. Yet the unmistakable blue of a switched on TV is veiled by the white curtains on the living room window. I turn back around to face you - who was watching the light flicker with me and wondering which parent was waiting up. They are probably asleep on the couch or the easy chair across the room. We are curled up and all alone inside of ourselves and we'll both implode if one of us doesn't make a move. I'm convinced it has to be me. Just when your eye contact makes me want to collapse and give up, you envelope me with a hug that warms the moon from it's glowing, frozen distance. We stay like this until my hand moves to melt on top of the touch of your hair. Your scalp is warm and where my hand has touched I leave a kiss that I'm almost certain you didn't feel.
I look over the yard, past my car perched inside the cul-de-sac, over the hill and down into the faint town lights, white and red, cast onto the black canvas of the earliest hours. The blue still flickers on inside like it shares a morse code with the pale stars. They are like new additions to the two that we are inside a vast and breathing sea of numbers.
These same mathematics work into place the fitting of my lips onto yours. The equation, the pattern, the pathway in sounds of subtle skin like chalk drawing out the sweeping curve of x over y. And your hands do fall limp. And your hips do stand firm in place, and who knew that you could be this fresh and linear to enjoy this, to make this, to taste this good. Like strawberry cough drops. But then I remember you told me you had strep a month ago and my hand goes to touch your throat, to soothe externally the place that might still be inside sore.
I'm stupid over you and this is our first date ever. High school was a blow and I still live outside of town, but you ask me to come in anyway, and knowing that I don't have to work tomorrow makes it an irresistible offer. I'm excited to see these lights from your second floor bedroom window where sometimes you crawl out onto the roof and smoke cloves when your parents fight. I end up on the couch, but the pillow smells like you and my tired ears are ringing from the show where I forgot my earplugs on my dresser beside my deodorant in my haste to pick you up. Yesterday, last night. This morning, right before I let my eyelids drop I hear you run water in the bathroom and my heart is in long division. And it's still up to me to solve the problem of me that lingers here on this brown, lush couch like a warm machine, a toy, newly bought and ready for play. You've done it all from so far away, before. The distance is now only in feet and not miles, but it has been amplified and carried here to occupy the brain that sits on my human shoulder bones a dark that pulses with the anxiousness of my heart punching the calculator, rhythmically. And my ears are looking for the sound of your feet down these padded levels of architecture measured and cut and called stairs. The train from across town moans in the distance. It registers with undecipherable direction, with a thick abeyance like I resist with terrifying urgency the whisper in my animal brain to climb these stairs and meet you. And I remember as I rise from the couch to peek out the window with translucent curtains, when you showed me your student ID and your driver's license as we shared a beer, a 40oz., on the precipice of this hill where the lights below were like specks of broken glass, their glints imbedded together the size of constellations and I imagined what your shapely and angular face might have looked like with the luminescence of tears carving their salty way down those degrees of curve that the T-square in my hands did not yet have the privilege of measuring. I didn't remember the countenance in that photo until tonight when you used it to get a discount, and I used mine to show you the other shape that I take when I'm not multiplying and dividing and solving the boy whose trigonometry has let go on you.
To the top of this page