“re the windows (revisited) and the watching therefrom” by Joel Kopplin

Categories: ISSUE 01: Babe

re the windows (revisited) and the watching therefrom

sometimes when you watch long enough the small things move, the things you thought would stay put for always no matter how long you looked. The fold in the fence from something large and hateful, the pathway perpendicular to the yard, the street that goes away awayaway into the receding distance with the sun at the end of the daylight, the crack in the driveway sprouting grass and weeds. These things that you never notice never stay still. They just know how to move so you don’t see without staring for a long long time. That fold in the fence used to be farther down, closer to the treeline, those poplars and maples. I know this. Now it’s closer to the neighboring complex, the building for the boys who play ball in the yard while Mom licks a finger and flicks the glossy pages of some glam rag, some trashy piece of shit she prides herself for reading even though she is merely scanning, merely looking. That car in the yard across from the kitchen. I watched the tires for weeks. The tires were aimed outward, rubber side forward, for weeks and weeks. Now they’re inward, rim-side out, even though it’s still parked in the same browned patch of lawn it’s always been. Same cracked windshield, same missing driver-side door, same dents, same rust cavities along the wheel wells and the gas tank, same scene for the nightly escapades of fucking and fellatio for the shirtless men and the women in the short shorts. The same, except for the tires.Those goddamned fucking tires.

there’s a bag of garbage propped along the pile of cement blocks, a white Hefty with red ties tied neatly in a slender bow. For a while I felt if I looked hard enough I could see what was inside, stare through the opaque white and pinpoint more dominant and more pressing colors. After a while I thought I could see empty two-liter labels, blue boxes for macaroni and cheese, semen-soiled clumps of Kleenex, toilet paper, paper towels. Body parts.A hand with a ring.Feet.A face staring upward through the small, squeezed opening near the ties.Eyes staring skyward all day and all evening when I could no longer see their sight. Sometimes you have to pay attention. The bag has been for many days. It is now wet with rainwater, with vomit, with alcohol and dark soil. Someone has tried to bury it with more garbage, clumps of dirt, an old bicycle. Now it is harder to see what might be inside, but I’m on the ready. I’m prepared for hard work, prepared to strain my seeing because I know that life doesn’t lend itself to laziness, to laying by while the world builds in layers over the ground you called yours. It is not yours because you say so. It is yours because you fight to defend, because you stalk naked outside with the knives, smeared shit under eyelids your war-paint, bound by nothing but the elastic waistband of your boxers and your duty toward what is yours. It is yours because you are ready to see blood, to sneak behind Mail Man with his sagging satchel and stab him in the liver and kiss his neck as you send him off to the cosmos, as you wave goodbye and usher him toward what’s after existence, toward what’s after now. And after you’ve let him to lie in his own gradual spread across the sidewalk and the lawn, you stomp in long lunges—dry grass sticking the soles of your feet—toward the lawn outside the kitchen window. There you stand at a yard’s distance from the lounging and lingering men minus shirts, jobs, places to be. You stand shit streaked under eyes, boxers and belly soaked in the black blood of your Foe. And you wait for them to make the move, to make the first motion toward a mortal knife fight to which you shouldn’t simply come with fists. They wait a moment, one twirling the thick mat of hair near a nipple, the others cracking knuckles and licking lips and the like. And they attack. They attack in a complex stratagem of first one then another from another angle where you are weak and unguarded, and they deal several severe blows to the base of your neck and the back of your head and your eye sockets and your ears, but you are made of strong stuff and you fight back with bald spot glistening in the grease and the sweat and the sunlight, and you scream like a man, the last man, as you break fingers and bite noses, lips, tongues, and you make short stabby swipes at exposed skin and flanks because in all their gusto and swagger they forgot to disarm you. So you stab and pull and tear and cause internal bleeding to build up in bad places. You immobilize two in short order by stabbing under armpits and in the hollows of throats, and the one with the gut wound remains flailing about on the grass, flailing and bleeding and screaming in short fits because he’s so short on breath. Now it’s endgame. You are merciful and gentle while you kneel near his head and lay him in your lap while he burps and shrieks and burbles blood onto your thigh. You’re gentle when you break his neck and raise your face to the searing sunlight, your eyes dazzled by the white light of God, who celebrates you and gives you warmth and the strength for tomorrow though you know the sun will someday set. You sit like this for several hours, kneeling in prayer, the serrated steak knife gleaming at your side, the eyes of your Foe frozen in the terror of the unknown by which he was swallowed and sent to who knows where. At dusk you stand and approach the opposite lawn, the yard beyond the blocks, and you watch those empty windows reflecting the world at sunset and you wait for recognition. Drenched in the blood of other men you wait to recognize what may be yourself, what you have always been all along.

Story by Joel Kopplin

Foreground photo by Jayme Joyce