Burning Books

by Melody Sumner Carnahan


KEEPING MY LEFT on the beam and my right well forward to the mark the heavy tail lifts into reversal nailing the horizon to my nose. I complete one inflected double-edged revolution calling that a stall roll. I don’t care what anyone else calls it.

Curling upward instead of back I kick my feet out from under it and away I ascend. Rapidly diminishing off to my right, and cocked to a crazy angle, the zigzag river holds me holding you holding onto me like fish swimming upstream.

Three full turns and the scene evaporates.

True tales have an uncomfortable relationship with the elements.

And then . . . and before that . . . the prairie flowing lonely along with the rolling ball of seasons and the heavy heavens depending on solid ground. . . . I shoot up out of it but my safety jerks hard carrying me down into a deepening dive. Space takes on a higher pitch with white-hot spurts of anger and resentment. The slipstream slaps me hard and rams my breath back down my throat. Grasping my knees I kip and vault toward great white heaps of cloud.

The brown earth, a motionless monotony, fades away behind me.

Dipping right into the billowy white I skirt my girth along the vertical then spike to a dizzying rise into the what-ever-after.

The air alone supports me. My breathing heats from the long climb. Plenty happens inside but I don’t call it anything. Doom in my gloaming. Above the wide cloudlike continent one jagged column burrows up to form an inverted coal mine. I turn full toward it. Silent freefall to my source until a constricted blur palsies my sight like a baby hurricane striking. The dense thickness comes alive as I curl my arms around it. Holding on for dear life.

Turbulence. One of the last unsolved problems of psyche and physics.

A faint dot-dash-dot is heard. Wet fields of foam drag low and slow over dangerous crosscurrents. My shoulder presses into the foam as cold wet sparks break against my face, some entering my mouth. I spit and condemn the ones who brought me here in lusty haste, my own sorry salacious face, the flickering dimensions of trust and default endings. . . . In one hell-of-a-skid I kick myself for all those wasted moments: the slender dimness that highjacked tenderness, the tight local systems that highjacked the infinite.

Guess I horsed back on it too hard one too many times with nervous caressing energy. I feel a bit sick remembering how blindness sets like a cement wig.

Too late to go back. I’ve spent my fuel. Time to bail or wait to see what happens of itself.

My body and my blood dropped as one before. Now when I push my body it stops but my blood keeps on going. Hanging from my heels my temper flares. I thin under the saddle of indecision. Yanking to vertical reversement my cursing reins into whipstall.

I am determined to determine a terminal velocity for it all. A kind of gutless bracketing. Birth holds the highest card.

I brace my wires, hold my struts against the shriek, am thrown violently out against the belt of blue . . . a limitless line, the same surface that retains the ocean. Cruising with no fuel, drawing long breaths of rarefied perfume, new-washed stalks of green stream into my sight, streaking toward me like firelight to penetrate the thick hide of the familiar.

I take the final plunge. Perhaps there aren’t enough verbs to describe such motion.

Bruising the elements, my ears receive a battering as the flutter force of the slipstream threatens to tear off my hands and feet. Miraculously, my heart keeps on beating. But it seems to be pumping air. A voice, not my own, yells out my name as if to wake me. I open my eyes to find the earth whirling in front of my face in a tight tall-ward spin. I heave myself against it and am pitched split apart.

I’ve never seen such light before! Blistered splints. Poised on the brink, I give in to thinking. Well, at least it’s over now. I roll onto my back and continue rolling over along the axis of my going nowhere.

Soothed by the circling sensation, the internal disturbance wordlessly works itself out. I level into it with a snap and instantly my eyes blur. Has there been a sudden drop in pressure? A lack of interest or attention? This cascading sensation, this doughy lack of concentration. Am I older? Was something forgotten? Did I do too much of nothing? How now brown cow. Sighs and lows decrease, melting the edges of a fertile field that streaks by at top speed flaunting a row of tall trees.

I stretch my mind and fingers to grasp unseen rivers and towns. The blue surface line of the ocean retains its same limitless blue line. . . .

Oh shit! I’m going to smack right into it!

Descending in a whirlwind the main billows and the air whistles delirious with a sweet soft sound. In slow motion the scented ground struggles up to meet me.

from You Are Not Asleep
© 2014 Melody Sumner Carnahan / Teksteditions