These Paris Airfares Won’t Last

by Wendy Lotterman

Every day I get new emails saying These Paris airfares won’t last,
a phrase originally potent in the sensitivity summoned, urgent,
running up against its own expiration, rebuffed by some love I once had,
that I don’t have, that sits dry at the end of my inbox. I keep them
white and bold, stark against Google’s rows of charcoal. The archive is
dry and untouched like my roommate’s plants I just killed, or my skin,
which disappears in the winter. I exaggerate my eczema like I bask in my asthma.
I rotate slightly sideways and hide my negligence in false verticals. The name stays
white in my inbox. I do want it. I do type my crush’s name into the search-bar
more than others. This isn’t the test, but it is a good one.

The new delicacy of the blood-brain barrier gets dropped on every public surface,
wiped up by the bounty of innumerable hands who also know you.
Paper tiger, towel dry, I took a shower when I was asked to.
So many ports to be reached by a single dock. I count myself lucky, or really
I just count myself among them. I ship carefully, accounting for the wind
with my single wet fingers. This is a kind of ornamentation I like;
I don’t know why yet. I check out through a crevice and check up on the web.
Someone from high-school wants to know why the struggle is so real today
and my uncle’s ex-boyfriend says he never knew Burkina Faso was a real country.
I knew, but I click anyway.

It has probably already been said that each of these sites is like a room,
and old code feels just as lonely as storage space. The posters on my wall
have never changed more quickly, the turnover hinging now not on
my own teenage ways, but the way others turn over beneath the heat of public sun.
Multiplicity is first thrilling and then it isn’t. I turn airport off. I still have so many
screenshots of Sylvain, fogged and horizontal. I have shown them to a handful of people.
I used to jump rope inside a face that confounded me, and now I’m ashamed
by the parable I dole out on impact. But fuck, I love it, too.

I wince right next to the moment I come. Sylvain calls and
I get runny like tail end of Mondays, having bypassed the moment
when the yolk still remembered to hold. Center can’t, I can’t either,
can’t remember French, or how the date ended, all flummoxed and drunk
by the end. It did feel good. From my view, outdated and sporting old habits
of calibration, the mercury was abundant and now isn’t. Redundant,
or is this just the sound-scape I bounce around in while you gain fame
around the Bay on vacation? Any forecast of spoil retroactively suggests
such a high level of thrill, that we know exactly which moments to alert.
I stake out my place; I market my continuance while staying
cozy in the safety of the buy-side.

This is all work talk; the telemarketers get into my grooves. I get it back. Stellar,
the way a ceiling can just leak into a canopy, knowing that fame
is positively correlated with a star’s ability to surf safely above crowds,
braced by innumerable hands that know you. It does feel crowded.
I pack my lunch, which is nothing but extra frames per second,
spent scanning what can’t possibly stand with its back against
the last of its own false claims in inches of weightless frizz that
hover above me in hollow height. The language gets runny, just as I do,
my yolk unencumbered and loving all this shame that gets absorbed and reported.

San Francisco divides in bad faith, hating the top of the conveyer belt
for not being the bottom it just was and is about to be once again.
A position only tenable in photographs, in the stillness I’d like to impose on last week,
on Thursday, when I was sipping oysters and still weighing the bait.
This has since really, really changed. Or someone could tell me otherwise
and I think I’d really believe it.

I enter into the conspiracy of weak defenses, and really my allergies are,
in the first place, an overestimation of threat, so I am believing this belief
of greater threat to be greater than it is. I risk it; I order the oysters.

I exit into the conspiracy of opposites.
I leave the Rap-Genius t-shirt folded on boxers with snowmen,
receive ten puppies in the form of imported liquid. I leave before I collapse
in the absolute glitch of two fishbowls that can’t share the same desk-space.
Evian is the puppy, I mean the reason I wake up here. I am doing what can
only be done under covers of faceless abundance and then letting my colors run.
It is fall, I am still asthmatic. I am summoning the face that confounds me,
changing roles all the time—each actor appearing classic, inimitable,
and then repeating.

This is the redness that gets measured around the edges.
Aloe cools what heat I can’t leash or release. It’s fine, this time
corresponding entirely to the desire I brought just to gamble and inflate.
Puffed up like a Cheeto, not crunched like the vermin that run like
contrast through tunnels I dug just to get here. Which to devour first,
the hive or the honey, the tiles or the grout. Not a question, as I am
saddled with a bottle of straight cranberry to flush me out from under.
It’s cool, you could know it, it burned so bad on Monday when I peed.

I tuck the other details in a tote and keel sideways,
aligned in the blind-spot of the verticals that obscure me.
This is the one constraint I walked in with. Time being popular,
me being, ostensibly, in limited rendition. This is where the waves break,
the handsy crowd recedes around the stubborn geometry assigned to me,
adored by some and roughly cut just for this one. Nothing doing.
Beginning and ending exactly where I begin and end, I have been saying this for weeks.
I stuff the subject in the center, like my single annotation of the first line of
Proust; I think you read it at the work party.

In one of yours, I about a preference for well-groomed vistas.
Questions of deforestation; I can see my own canopy blush in the light.
In the end I get red around the edges of every erroneous tree, uprooted, I guess,
to seduce you. I Ouija me into the light. I bead up, spill it all. It isn’t without
interest in the bait that awaits me at the end of stick, in the picnic that
lays dormant until my thirst stirs its goods beyond the basket.

No need to be discreet about things I did as a teen,
except that I still do them. I try uprooting the woods in one tug.
It tastes better than expected. Must be the name-brand water,
all those Chinese herbs, the progression of health doing nothing
beyond what we imagine it to be doing, which is no different than
doing what it is doing. That cucumber line in “Black Pearl” was so me,
which you knew. I pin this data like a barnacle to my backpack and
keel forward into the fortress of this fluke.

It’s so tenderly gross, so fun to getting wrung around these older roses.
My faith returns to the circle which I didn’t believe to be perfect in nature
until my roommate shed her hair in the shower, leaving the publicity of her canopy
all over the walls of our private room. I ring back around the geometry assigned to me.
Yes, it tastes better than expected.

Street View

I can’t believe the changes you went through. How “untrue” you have become and how “traitorous” you now are to who you were. This is, if anything, what I might say to, my alma mater, the Step and Repeat that precedes me. Wildly, names never expire. Grove is where I went to high school, and Grove is now a boarding school for autistic teens, and I didn’t visit Grove shortly thereafter enough to be able to revisit Grove at all. Whatever the letters, I did eat dinner at 5 p.m. for two years straight. And I did tighten around a fabulist’s spool, the image of which glistens after continuous licks and then leaves to go under some penumbra. The move feels cheap, but I have also cuddled into the safety of intrinsic gray.

I zero in, via satellite, on a woman mowing her lawn. I go there, click around, mystified by why I can’t find her. I check Martin Luther King Jr. Way and she is not there; I check West St. and she is not there. I go toward the coast until it’s just photos that other users uploaded. But I know the episode still airs when my box is shut off, and I know the faceless woman is somewhere, having regained her face, but where, if not totally conflated in this moment with the one who now rents her backyard apartment. Her orphaned effect adopts my barren cause. I cuddle into the half-onus of our perfect combo and try again. The face is nothing by the time that I get there; close enough to max-out its quality. I blew it, I broke my box, but I still hear the episode airing in other rooms. Where is the woman who was mowing the lawn? I came here for you, now nowhere except somewhere I can’t zoom. You retreat to the caution of gray. It is everything. Just like how I conflate you.

For a minute I call it quits, knowing that in this messy equation there are too many clefts at the breast of each bend for the flip-turn to work without flooding the sinuses behind technologies of intimacy, which, stubborn, call for a shutdown, so that we, like the government, now sit motionless in a bowl of dry rice.

Shit, baby, I do like the game of baiting my likeness, but desire still gathers around the meridian of difference. Still, I’ll never recover the rubric, finding graph-paper to be redundant as it heckles my tremble, manifest on the page. About this—I don’t drink enough water; it’s so selfish to lasso you all into metaphors of thirst. I go white in a bowl of rice, the succulent that restores me. I mean I go gray.

Caroline is still changing my life every day in ways that have nothing to do with her. At worst, she is my city. I gained indifference probably two weeks ago, but it is simple like cereal and I worry there’s no reason to write it.

No sequence; I take a breather before I refresh. I had so much more to say about vacation, and I realize that this is the origin of anthropology, the coveting of metaphors, enlisting B just to comprehend what we can’t see about A, because, stubborn, our thumbs won’t toggle from being Yoshi to seeing Yoshi. B gets refurbished like all our apartments. B gets an extreme makeover, mirror edition, my edition which dips into the divots that diminish my ability to establish a topography of selfish recognition. The discipline is totally gross, even if the preface to every ethnography has some guilt to confess.

I give previews of how I forth-come. Still, I am teasing the lede. Someone says no, Wendy, I am not in the market for the very thing that mobilizes me to go to the market and without which I leave the market every time. All I am is drinks and Dunk-a-roos. My corner-store infers the world of me. I, in turn, infer interest where there isn’t, align behind street poles just to live inside a blind spot. It occurs to me that the penultimate pleasure of seeing half-naked bodies in pg-13 movies might be equal to the pleasure I get from whole-naked bodies when I have sex. I can’t find the surfeit, much less know that I am not finding the surfeit.

I zeroed in, out my window, on Kit’s driveway across the street. There was a time when the arrival of his car was more Sylvain than the image of Sylvain, blurry, on Skype, across the screen that blocked the window from which I watched Kit. Older episodes revisit in simpler custodies, so they can barely revisit at all. My new box will not shut off. Still, I killed my flora at the origin, and still, I can’t have guests.

Souped-up, baby gem. You arrive, winded and bored atop hills because you have to. You forget Oakland because you have to. You update your software because you have to. You change the name because you have to.

My caliber came and went promiscuously. A tiny ocean answered the phone when I meant to. I go miniature like the images that succeed me. Heavy and remedial. She is my city, at worst. I change the name, because I have to.

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