Alice and Me
First, there was the hole, so small it seemed nothing could fit. And yet, there it was, a bee sharp hum, an invitation. Alice leaned into it as you would the wind. She bent to the size of a caterpillar, turning. She touched it like she would a closed mouth, or the petal of a living flower. It didn’t even occur to her to leave it alone. * I’ve fallen in dreams and never died. I’ve fallen, losing my blue dress to the greedy air, felt the delightful untethering, a hungry skin unsheathed. I’ve fallen from the ledge of an archway, like a loadstone dislodging, dragged the stronghold to rubble. I’ve fallen from the arms of queens, forgotten as the plea for escape. I’ve been pushed. I’ve jumped. I’ve slipped on a slant of light, my shoe grinding against the concrete like teeth. But never had I watched myself fall as if outside my own body, calm as a clock, thinking, Well, there she goes. * Skirts akimbo, hair wild as the sudden flood, Alice was oddly beautiful in the way everything broken is beautiful—the cracks and shadows of a patched tea cup like blue veins whispering in an old woman’s thigh. * And with me fell a drawer full of loose keys clinking, exactly the sound of my son’s xylophone, and the red guitar given to me by a former lover, carefully grained wood I would never learn to play. The gray onesie my son wore home from the hospital ballooned like an empty sack of flour. My grandmother’s lamp my husband had always hated soared by with its tacky green shade. I saw the piano that wouldn’t play, the crib with the splintered slat, the dryer with its cyclical speech. Then, things disappeared, replaced by the careful black angles of the words I dared not say the name of the child we wouldn’t have, the address of a house in which we would not die together. * How could Alice know that she would not scatter like playing cards? How could she have known that the ground would not break her into pieces like so many oyster shells crushed into the sand? She was not what she had expected. And yet, she knew that this had been done before. She knew girl after girl, in blue pinafore, lips flamingo pink, had wandered through the strange wilderness of her own garden and fallen, quick as the flash of a rabbit’s tail. * Oh Alice, oh world of Alices, on the cusp of drinking the unknown, remember me, praying for the mushroom-soft earth, praying for it not to be a dream, but a parable.