Life in Siren
“Who wouldn’t save his brother
in a poem if he could?”
I will not let this be a warning. My hand has been shaking now, slightly, for three weeks. I pretend this is organic. I pretend this is magnetic. If I pretend, that this is not a warning, I sleep well at night.
I visited Stonehenge recently. I listened to the guided audio tour. I am not a fan of guided audio tours. I am a product of an ADD society and therefore often do not have the patients for the low slow voice of a historian narrator. When listening to a guided tour that has a British accent the condition is worsened. The makers of these guided audio tours have tried to combat the lack of a tourists concentration ability by adding in sound effects and different voices that ask rhetorical questions to the listeners. (Side thought: Can a question be rhetorical if the asked cannot possibly respond.) The overall effect of this is a cheap collage of studio effects and underpaid narrators. I turned the tour off before I had even reached “key interest point 5”. Therefore I am not an expert of Stonehenge. But what I do know is that:
1. There are two different types of stones that built Stonehenge. A local sandstone and a foreign bluestone.
2. No one actually knows what Stonehenge was built for. They know it is old. They know it would have been hard to build. Some speculate aliens.
3. The bluestones are valued for special magnetic properties they posses.
4. Stonehenge sits on a wide field of magnetic lines, known as lay lines. It is because of these that many suspect that Stonehenge was used for healing powers.
5. When I visited Stonehenge I could not touch it
6. Twenty three years ago when my parents visited you could touch it. You could climb it in fact. My parents said that if they wanted to the probably could have chipped a little piece of it off and taken it back home.
When we visit Stonehenge my teacher gives us metal rods and explains how to walk with them loosely in our hands so that we can see the effect of the magnetic lay lines. I do not participate. My hands are to shaky. I recently found out that every body of water, even the most tiny puddle, has a tide. Adult men are 60% water. Our bodies than must be tidal. Then to cant our hands react to magnetic fields. I pretend this is not a warning. I pretend this is magnetic.
In Chicago they are building a new skyscraper. This is a statement that I can always make as they will always be building new skyscrapers in Chicago. Edinburgh Scotland had the first skyscrapers. Because land was relatively limited they built fourteen story stone towers that were the predecessor of the modern day apartment building. When they built Old Main, the oldest building at my college, it was the tallest building in the Midwest. It is three stories tall. Now the build skyscrapers out of steel and glass. Steel is not magnetic, though it can be magnetized. We do not build to heal anymore
My brother is an addict. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of him entering rehab. I expected his head to shake, or his leg, or his hand. But my brother is good at hiding these things.
I know my brother is an addict. He has admitted that to himself. This is step one. Step two is to admit that a power greater than yourself can restore your serenity. My brother hasn’t done this. My brother is like me, he is always looking a head, Step five is admitting to this higher power the exact nature of ones wrong doings.
I believe in god, and I believe in the trinity. But which of these is my brother confessing to. Does he confess to god the ghost, or god the father, or god the son. I could not confess to my father that I smoke cigarettes, and should fathers ever confess to their sons.
So we will confess to ghosts. My grandmother died when I was three. I do not remember what she looked like. But, quite frequently, I see her in the corner of my eye. These “sightings” are not recognitions of physical forms but more of a darting presence. As in an space just empty now is taken up by something I cannot recognize. I know it is my grandma because I am not afraid of this presence. Not like the time I dreamed the devil was in my room.
I smoke grandma, and I told my brother I would quit if he did. But he hasn’t and when I see him use I need a cigarette. And when I see him I need a cigarette. And I need a cigarette. I’ll quit tomorrow.
I have believed for the past year that every time I get a call from home my brother has died. My brother has been climbing buildings again. He sits, stoned, watching sunrise, sunset. I want to tell him that there is no healing powers in metal buildings. I want to take him to someplace magnetic. But my brother is a ghost. And confessions to ghosts are rhetorical.
When my brother and I were children we would stay up late playing Peter Pan. We had trundle beds. He had the lower one, I the higher. We would stand on the high bed and jump, eyes closed, laying flat in the air, and thinking happy thoughts. We didn’t fly. Each time crashing on the mattress an unwanted realization was made. We were not Peter Pan. We were not going to fly. But each time we got back on to the bed and tried again. Fairy tales died when we got old enough to be lost boys.
I am twenty three, I still have flying dreams. Sometimes when there is a strong breeze I dream of lifting my legs up and just blowing away. I dream of tornadoes but a church in Galesburg has a relic from a saint I do not know. They say that this has stopped the tornadoes from touching down here.
Last Tuesday was the first Tuesday of the month so at 10:00 Am they tested the warning sirens. That night my teacher asked the class what life would be like living inside siren. As in, the first reaction we have when we hear a siren is when will it stop. If siren never stopped where would we be trapped. Would we relearn to panic? The noise eventually just blending into background. My brother lives in a siren state. Every pebble on the road a reminder, a craving, an excuse. In a state of siren our hears cannot hear people telling us its okay. We are disorientated. We must not forget the meeting place.
Day by day I am convinced phone calls reporting the fallen are coming. I should have seen it coming. Fall, after fall we climbed back on top of the high bed just to fall again. But his hand wasn’t shaking, or his leg, or his arm. His hand wasn’t shaking? Or his leg? His arm?
I will not let this be a warning. I refuse, I must sleep.
And when you slip, I will write stories that do not end with falls. You will slip but I will not end in fall. I will write without fall. Stories that freeze on the edge. Your face stoned calm. A calm, stone face. Face calm, staring stoned at the sunset. It will be a calm sunset. With skin to warm too be dead.