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On Fences of Never by Chris Barnett
published in Volume 9, Issue 4 on September 16th, 2002

I don't know what to do with my eyes.

....at first you're one in a million of the post-chic, donning what the magazines tell us... dodging your imaginary Paparazzi....your lacerating tresses stealing me to a still......every eccentricity quieted behind corporate digs...the "New Yawk" babe intrepid and yummy...this is what you are...of course you're just as capable of pizza chin as any pretty face...

Next, I detect your cataclysmal communication devices that seem to beep, vibrate, ring, and solve very important problems...I soon realize you have that hushed kind of sugar found only in the lonely...the kind that leaves you bitter with subconscious smirks...to top off such allegations, I realize you were the one by the Chai café off Allen Street...most indeed of my memory you were...the one with the strawberry sandals...you were telling me to get a job and stop trying to commune with dead beats and other urban legends...

I understand,right there in my castle in the sky, that it's you...Natasha Gurdin...Natalie Wood that is....or Wagner or Walken...it's you and your baby browns and as they start into melted chocolate chips...I feel I should leave you to yourself...but I harbor this urge to help, to somehow run with gifting hands, I want to hug you, cook with you.....but I just pick my nose instead...squawking claptrap parables about death.....

For 389 shuffling steps...20 feet behind and following....inconspicuously nosy

through the Lower East 5th arrondissement and I'm suddenly converted into the kind who over-rationalizes about chance and the supernatural and the strangely bizarre whilst strangely comforted knowing the mystical has happened to me...twice...twice my eyes have convinced themselves of you, Natalie....did you really think you could get away with it?....fake your own death to come to New York and mosey around in what looks to be Metallic Teal flip-flops, thinking we're not always in control of our destiny?

I guess we're not in control or even at the wheel but it feels real....and my right now is telling me you're in it.... it feels good to be alive, Natalie....that the quintessence of divine virtue is inbuilt...that the timeless immediacy of "but it could happen" does indeed....

Jeepers.

A dangerous place to be...especially at this time of night when vibrant imagination elbows up with you in that wayward kinda way....but I find myself following you still in this dark ghoul of an hour...as is my birthright when it comes to miracles, Ms. Fudgy Eyes...awh, Natasha, downtown for boots and your prissy button rouge...step princess step...Natalie of limited range but of heart tugging amenities...snivel Natalie snivel.... you know you're a star...but you need space...I understand....just like I am somebody's Chris Barnett or Kevin Bacon and they're behind me about 5 blocks and guessing, constructing, imagining my entire life story....I guess we're all characters...characters for each other's benign delusions...I'm just not sure if I should share you with the rest of the world....or if I should tuck you in my dreams.

From behind a fire hydrant, I watch you stop in at the Chinese butcher, browsing the marinated death of ducks teary-eyed and carnivorous; a gumball pops out, you arc it to plop in your mouth, teal tongue soon...and waving to a brash clerk, you leave humming Sondheim. We go on for blocks, almost whole neighborhoods of cultural joie de vivre and I see you chew the fat with bag ladies like you were made of bags and all things pure...next you're kicking a rock in front of the picture parlor and you seem delighted the rock has kept up with you all these blocks...they miss you, Natalie. They are begging for you to re-surface...begging for one... just one more thrill...

At the cigarette shop, you ask the vendor if your husband has come and he licks his finger and holds it in the breeze...his eyes a quiz away from certainty.

Ms. Wood...I won't tell a soul that you chew gum cow loud or that I saw you last night under the streetlights on Stanton, status electric under an active rain with your definition of suicide...but if you didn't come back.....you came this close...this close...but I wouldn't blame you.

I can see it now ...long after the artificial promises made during heartfelt cocktails... you just slipped but right before that you were on the railing, finding meaning in your own sailing expedition, and it felt good to yell, to even the score your way, finally yodeling up into that expansive nothing for a final lasting meaning....that metaphysical holiness we crave under the cape of our own sorrows....the kind of meaning we all lose the gist of until we finally define ourselves....you just slipped I know.....now it's just you and Sondheim rolling on like some anonymous parade...while the holidays and the fireworks and the affairs and the frugality and the conundrums and the news and the normalcy and the clockwork of an innocent New Yawk linger around the edges of your smallness.

At 2nd Avenue, your scruples get tied like a pretzel as some chance bum recognizes you and starts quoting "34th Street". He'll enter a bar. Everyone will think he is just a mad bum, but what his beautifully mucky head knows would turn the world upside down...he will drink until he cannot stand or speak and it will be just before puke when he ventures to tell the world who he saw, and upon hearing his zealous discourse the world will pass him off as a drunkard and he will plead, kick, flail, and stomp like an irate child until he passes out burped....

Upon waking, all of his recollection blurred and disenfranchised.....he'll forget he ever saw the real Natalie...and having realized his head hurts, he will tend to that instead....and then he'll cry a lot......not because he has forgotten....but because he cannot remember.

I don't know what to with his eyes....

We all know them when we see them...Natasha....we all want a piece of them....those with that miracle in their stride...that numinous trait unexplained behind the eye.....those folk where you just know....it's something about them...they've "got it" or they've "found out". They inspire the ordinary to become unordinary...the tame to get a tad wild....the caved in to resurface....the dead to rise...maybe we're all like each other in our own ways, maybe... just maybe...we're everyone in whispered waiting...or maybe we're all just ghosts trying to get hired.

Only God knows...and let's pray that's the gospel...either way this unemployed ghost is taking a seat....my ankles are swollen.

See you around, Natalie...

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