Word For/ Word: A Journal of new writing

Jessica Smith

In Love

"That the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless journey toward home is in fact our home." --David Foster Wallace on "Kafka's central joke"

What it used to be
Light in circles made of fire
dancing on wrists and elbows
The whole world a little starry
Drunk most of the time
then broke
then drunk
Naked young men and naked old men
in doorways backlit by bare light bulbs

The train tracks guide me home then
the sidewalks guide me home then
the way the bright lights make halos
guides me home

What it used to be,
"too intense,"
each building each streetlight
attached permanently to some memory.
Awash in memories.
Everything a mnemonic.
Like electroshock therapy
to walk down the street a series of triggers
A fight, a blackout,
a walk the day after a rape
engraved in the sidewalks
remembering each crack,
inked, intaglio,
the delicate balance between dissociation and imagination

All the girls walk like zombies
down the street.
I see them, like me,
negotiating the gap between
memory and reality,
blocking the incessant intrusions,
fighting to stay present.