Desert Heat & Glaciers
It is hot in Colorado these days. Has been for a while. I like to tell people the dry climate takes the edge off a little. That’s true, but it’s still hot.
I grew up in Georgia, the land of 90+ percent humidity, where you can’t spend ten minutes outside without sweat running down your face, clouding your vision, irritating your eyes. I’ve known heat that blows Colorado heat out of the water. But it’s been a while since I’ve visited Georgia. I think my blood is thinning.
I think everything about me is thinning. Either that or thickening, clogging, stagnating. My vitality is thinning, fraying like an old tight rope. Sometimes I can’t see it at all, through all the sweat and glare. Sometimes I dig my nails into it, like a pigeon digs its claws into a live wire. Sometimes I dangle from it by a finger. Sometimes I flip around on it like an acrobat. I’ve learned some good tricks. I can slice through the air without making a sound.
But the air is getting thicker, harder to breathe. Too much cigarette smoke. Too hot.
Have you ever seen a glacier? I haven’t. I think I had the chance once, on a cruise in Alaska, but I was too busy with the buffets and the coffee bar. Anyway, I think a glacier is a cold, steady thing, a thick mass of direction. If I saw a glacier now, here in this high desert, I might be tempted to dive in, in my shorts and t-shirt. Between the blood oozing out of the incisions the mountain rock cut into my back, and the gray-brown dirt lodged in the callouses on my hands, maybe I’d add a little color to the snow.
I’d like to be buried under the ice, to grow so thin I wouldn’t have to breathe but once a day. I’d like to drink white water. I’d like to rinse the sweat out of my eyes. I’d like to howl and make a snow angel. I’d like to feel my muscles grow rigid under the ice-blanket.
Most glaciers move about a meter a day, Google says. That’s a mile every four and a half years, or about 25 miles every century. I don’t move much faster, nor does my brain. Sometimes, though, when a synapse burns out, there is a burst of fragmented thought, which I sometimes write down. I am doing so now, in fact.
Ginsberg’s “shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson” would look pretty good “illuminating” a glacier’s all but “motionless” “world of time.” Elise Cohen, Ginsberg’s typist, who was as much a girlfriend to Ginsberg as any woman can be to a gay man, did not look as good lying motionless on the pavement after leaping from a the window of her parents’ living room. The leap itself, though, must have looked pretty spectacular, before it came to a shuddering halt right here in the middle of this galactic “cobalt dream.”
The disappearing rope of my vitality is too thin to tie this thick, glacial paragraphic mass of lightning strikes and thin apparitions together. I suppose you have just read a crudely drawn map of the poles to which my mind leaps when I throw burning coals at its feet and demand that it dance. If you can read the map despite the gnarled wrinkles that have formed over the years as I’ve crumpled it and pulled it apart ten thousand times, please tell me what it says, and how to get somewhere worthwhile.
Anyway, it’s been hot in Colorado. A dry heat, a desert heat. Heat with no water. But what am I bitching about? I’ve got AC, and a functional tap, and I only go outside to smoke cigarettes.
I am doing so now, in fact.