POETRY BY KATIE FLOREZ; ARTWORK BY VIDA VILJOEN
Circling from 10,000 feet
I unfurl the oily cable
Into a measured swirl beneath me.
Montreal on a snowy Tuesday afternoon.
I push back my knit beanie
Too hot from dancing, sliding down to my eyebrows.
And You. You there belting lyrics at me.
My heart skating down San Francisco hills.
Ingloriously I count the nights.
I number the hours and tally the minutes.
Something heavy and invisible yanks the cable taut.
Up here we are waltzing on high ropes.
Unnatural wrinkles are etched into my cheeks.
I touch my wild hair that’s been untouched
By you. You living in the air without me.
I shift the looped scarf around my neck, hot with sleep.
I climb narrow wooden steps to a lofted bed.
What a thoughtful friend, covers pulled neat and uniform.
I am a guest to two symmetrical pillows, a bit flat for my taste
But you are not here to anticipate that complaint.
I am thinking about fields and flat spaces.
The window as a magical device
I binge watch landscapes, clouds and painted road lines,
The opaque cable like a knotty treasure map trailing behind.
I demand to know how you feel
And if watching my face in candle light
Makes you feel precious and nervous
And does it give you any relief?
Tied to the leg of my dinner chair
The cable is anchored to something
I cannot see and sometimes do not trust.
A stranger steals your chair away from me.
I’ve woken up in more places than I can remember
The brief, sweet ignorance of my location is cruel.
For a second I hear you on the floorboards
But it’s always just another smatter of foreign syllables.
I hold back what I know I ought to say
Because one word could bring on a thousand
And this goddamn converter is jammed again
And I can’t fling my voice 5,626 miles to you.
The cable is angled around nine different pegs.
They crisscross and wrap and cling to one another.
Can you see how much better I’ve gotten?
How much more elastic my grit has become?
I’ve been listening to the even spaces between the tracks,
Their perfect measurements are my heartbeat’s aspirations.
My smile gets a lot of practice over here, like currency.
Don’t worry; I’m saving my hundred dollar bills for you.
I have to tell you I was never ready to leave.
I have to tell you I am overdramatic and it cannot be helped.
I have to tell you I’ve looked under rocks and over handlebars
And there is no perfect recipe for intimacy and a quiet mind.
I’ve been thinking about edges and cliff faces.
I can hold onto the cable now without looking at it behind me
And watch my toes churn tiny whirlpools beneath me.
Between your fingertips the cable is finely spun string.
There is a bare light bulb two meters above the chair.
Groping the wall of the bathroom I can’t find the cord.
Everything happens just the same in light and dark
But I desperately crave the shape of the switch against my skin.
I am walking over scuffed and greying cobblestones.
You filter them more brightly in my imagination.
I scrape the roadside a bit harder
Just to be sure it hears me belonging to you.
One spaghetti dinner, three spilled coffees and five nose wipes.
That’s the amount of dirt that drags me to the laundry room.
Like a hunter, I’ve lost your scent in the weak twilight.
Promise me you’ll hint the way back to you soon.
I know what my dreams taste like.
They are my forehead against a marley stage
Kissing me with dry sock lint and beady sweat.
Give me one more week and one more flask of oxygen.
Paper train tickets and plastic espresso cups hold up my eyelids.
I am racing through calendar days now
And a few too loud thoughts hush all of my words.
I can feel the wheels knocking to a halt.
It’s time to come home now.
I have nothing more to say to myself at dinner.
I listen in on humming thoughtless conversations
Vibrating my plate and fork. They’re not you.
Constantly I’ve been thinking about you.
Yes, I’ve been imagining you and letting you
Make my mind blurry in the most fantastic way.
Weeks later and you’re still a restful daydream.
I pull the covers up around myself this last time
And I let myself be here because I know
That you are there waiting behind jet streamed clouds.
Finally, I am coming home. And you are home.
Katie Florez is a writer, dancer, teacher and student currently living in San Francisco, California. Born and raised in Ohio, she made her way through Chicago all the way to California and has been living there for the past five years. She trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and is now a freelance dancer currently working with Anomalous Dance in addition to creating her own work. She is grateful to have the opportunity to write for Stance on Dance and is also working on a contribution for dancepulp.com.