Bill Dunlap

I know that you’ve told me about mountains before. About all those little pumps and corks working together, expanding and contracting in unison from the very beginning. About the whale shapes that arc and bulge like balloons filled with water, about their steady rising up against the stony ground above them. I’ve imagined tunnels, too, although you’ve never told me about tunnels. There’s been no room for maneuvering, neither for the mountains nor me, and now we’re both far past it on this journey, now entering a kind of metaphorical autumn or early evening and still no time for me to grow. There’s just the constant constraining energy of being in your shadow, under your hood of ideas, swimming in your words that map and fold, fold and unfold like blueprints broad as any sky. So in my silences I’ve tunneled for escape, or if not escape then respite at least. You’ve told me about division, too. How the single mound hides its fractures, sheer faces pressed together in darkness, one against the other so tight that eruption is the only option. I can imagine being there in a vacuum space where I’m sucked inward, magnetized and plastered to a dark world, and could enjoy it if I knew it would be entirely silent. As for the glass marbles rolling on glass dishes that generate what little warmth there is inside the mountains, those marbles have become a movie in my brain. I see a smooth-skinned marble rolling slowly out of the darkness at the back of my head, then more marbles with it rolling into dim light, then into the bright light at the front of my head, the marbles rolling with the sound of bowling balls across my forehead, then back into the darkness. Hardly a pause at all, and then they roll through my brain again. When I’m able to go and touch an actual mountain I’m able to make the marble movie go away. Maybe I’m just talking about headaches, but anyway I’m suffering. For some short amount of time I’d just like to hear the breeze in the trees or the sound of songbirds instead of your never-ending lecture, your ever-expanding ellipses. If I could speak to you, if you would hear me, I wouldn’t want to offend. I’d just make a polite request for quiet. Think of it as a prayer. I make it now, as a prayer. I pray for quiet, and a bit of time alone, all to myself. I wonder if you’ll accept, and if so how will I know? Will I discover a kind of independence in my stride, and a confidence to live apart and plan for myself? In the past you’ve sent the angels to spy on me and interrupt me when I least expect it. I suspect you know my thoughts. Do you know what I’m thinking now? Will I be punished, or chuckled at like a silly child and ignored? How will I know? In addition to the spying angels, I know you’ve made me fall suddenly into heavy sleep. I know this because when I wake up I see the changes. You move the pieces on the chess board because you can, because this is your game. Well I’m starting to play my own game. It’s a game of separation, and it unifies. It’s a game that prisoners play. I’ve discovered that I’m able to look at myself looking at myself. The more I do this I’m able to look at myself looking at myself looking at myself looking at myself. The process is infinite. They say you are infinite. The process makes me infinite. I think there can be only one infinity. The process makes me not separate from you. You don’t control me. There’s no one in control. I’ll eat apples. I’ll sleep in discomfort. And so will you. This is good for me. I do this for a while, and then I fall back into the old ways. Back and forth, but I’m getting stronger. Eventually I’ll die and be forgotten, and so will you. In fact you’ll die before me. In fact, you’re dead already. Watch. Come slowly, Eden, for you’re optional. You’re the old-fashioned house I made for myself. I live alone. I rearrange the furniture. Will I have guests today? Who now will saunter through the door if I choose to leave it open?

Bill Dunlap writes: "I paint mostly and write occasionally. I’ve had work published through the years at places like: Hangman, Big Bridge, Midway Journal, VeRT, Suger Mule, E ratio, Pavement Saw and others. My painting web site (woefully out of date) is here and the writing section (also a bit out of date) is here
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