Monday, October 19, 2009


We talked once about the tunnel. Do you remember this? The tunnel? It began in my basement. I suffered its completion almost constantly. The tunnel. It became like a wound. I wanted to constantly examine it. I wanted to look at it every hour of the day, to be inside it. To be making this thing, to be moving toward you—impossible, I know it now—in the wet dark. I hoped to come to you someday with the sap of roots in my hair. I hoped your fingers would snag in the tangles. I was young, let’s not forget that.

The irony of this is not lost on me now. The hidden nature of the idea. That bus routes would move above me, dust falling into my lungs with the distant rumble above. Grass would grow. Yes, the whole thing, the daily thing, the unavoidable, would still be happening, but not for me. I would be the undetected thing, the movement, the unpredictable unthinkable thing beneath it all, coming to you, always coming to you.

I would begin in the early morning, walking down the basement steps, taking a deep breath at the bottom, already tasting the metallic unsophisticated earth on the back of my teeth. And there, at the bottom of the steps, staring at me, the gaping hole in the basement wall, the vulval opening, aimed south like a subway, but much much smaller. Just large enough for my shoulders—which are not broad—a few feet off the basement floor.

We called it a life line, between you and I. Or I did anyway. Lifeline. Lifeline. Beneath the fields of Bowman and the fallow tobacco of St. George, it ran on for 110 miles. When it was completed I didn’t have the heart to tell you. It was too late perhaps. I slept in the dirt beneath your apartment, lying in my own open wound, bracing myself against the new sounds above. The conjugal bed groaned in a dark ominous key through the dirt, my hands against the vascular ceiling. A clot in the artery. Worms in the cuffs of my trousers and ground water in my belly. I tried, as Rutherford said, to sleep with the Christ in my heart, but he squirmed and kept me up all night.

Should I go now the extra 450 miles? Listening to the mad waters of Avery Creek from the dark secret plow. Moving quietly as before, beneath the thistles of Woodbury only to drown after mistakenly digging a hair too shallow beneath the J Percy Priest Reservoir.