12​.​) The Yellow Eyes [iii]

from by Jesse Livingston

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At the library, I looked through every shelf, searching for the book. I couldn’t find it. The shelves were full of books I didn’t need. I was walking around in a circular room with glass windows where you can see the bushes outside and the sidewalk. There were couches in the middle. It was night. I was trying all the shelves, with no result. Every time I reached up to a shelf, I thought I should be reaching to a shelf with tiles on the edges. I didn’t know where the book was or why I was thinking that. I thought if only I could find that shelf I would find it.

On one of the tables by the couches was a magazine. There was a picture of a block of ice with a bunch of flags sticking in it. The cover said Time, and the title said “Who owns the arctic?” I looked at it, and I thought, Sure. That’s true. Who does own the arctic? Someone has to, I guess. Someone has to own the arctic. Someone has to own it. Someone has to own it. Someone has to own it, I guess. It made me think of all the stuff out there, and I thought, I didn’t want to be part of it. All the bushes and trees and the rocks and dirt and sand and the all water in the oceans, I didn’t want to be that. I wanted to be myself and not all of that. I thought of that and what an ugly word it was compared to this. That sounded like something bursting open which has been lying out in the sun. This sounded like a cool, shaded stream running over cold rocks in a valley with a lot of trees. Then this started to sound like hissing shadows in the very back of the valley where there was darkness.

The lights were hurting my eyes, so I went in the restroom to put water on them. In the mirror, I was looking at the eyes and they seemed half-shut, like someone else’s eyes. They were dark and bruised with sleep, where the sleep must have been, because I couldn’t find it. They were all around the edges of sleep, and the yellow bruisings of where the blood had gone. It was a yellow with rings around them that made it look like a cadaver, I thought, This isn’t working. The book has been hidden somewhere, and I can’t find it in time. But the lights in the restroom told me I could find it. They spoke some kind of language that was old and made of vibrating waves. It was everything still shivering from the beginning when it was made. I thought maybe it was echoes of the Word...

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from A Thousand Lifetimes in an Hour, released December 21, 2012

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Jesse Livingston Denver, Colorado

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