In ninth grade geography, we conducted a survey on carbon footprints. An exercise in hyperbole. I pretended to be as environmentally friendly as possible — recycling, low electricity consumption, compost, water usage and other categories I had, in actuality, put little effort into. I “had” the smallest footprint in the class. A naïve classmate looked at me with admiration. That year, I made a New Year’s resolution to “help the planet.” That was six years ago.
I don’t know what day it is. A music festival livestream runs on my laptop. The night broadcast of SportsCenter on the TV. Both are only on just to avoid the tinnitus. I only get up from my bed when my bladder can’t take it, dragging myself to the bathroom. When I wash my hands, I leave the tap on while I soap and lather, making sure to get in the fingernails and between the fingers, and a bit on the wrist.
Eventually I pass out with the lights on. When I wake I shower until I no longer feel the cold of the morning. I write my name on the fogged-up mirror. I keep the tap running as I brush my teeth.
A few weeks ago, I read an article that said we’ve reached the point of no return. This is unsustainable. This? All of it. Consumption. Everyone knows this deep down. All we can do is have a laugh with it — use it in plots for movies. No one wants to stare into a tunnel with no light at the end.
A knock on the door. I look through the peephole and see her. The usual concerned look, arms folded. I turn out the lights quietly and wait. When I hear her leave, I think: Am I getting enough Vitamin D? I open the blinds, slip out onto the balcony and smoke up.
Back inside. An altered state. There is nothing outside these walls. I engage in personal experiments. Flail around the house, no technique or inhibition, until my arms tremble and I drop.
Before, words were powerful when stacked, accumulated. Sediment makes mountains and pages make books and theses. Wise words are the foundation for our thoughts, and thoughts translate into action. This is how it was.
my hand, worn and wrinkled, moving,
__________a sign of life
in this room
there is only light, air, the bed,
_____even that potted plant must be
_____it is not fragrant or tended to
finally the arm takes off —
extension, an achievement, however little
____________I will pretend
____________the plant is real
my thirties, framed in the mind
those years are long past
I remember again —
past the light now,
it is happening
and there is no one here with me
outstretched arm comes to rest
eyes look at nowhere in particular
hand floats downward
the tremors of the body cease
I wish I could be typical
_____ “oh, my child”
_____ “love each other,” surrounded
__ ___but this is enough
and the walls of this dark room
collapse outward, and spread
__________________________as if in bloom
I am in my hometown, in that old house
there are children running outside
supper will be ready in a minute, says mother
but I stumble past her
up the stairs, through my bedroom door
I cover the sunlight
with my arm, so easily moved
_______roll onto my bed,
MIGUEL LEANDRO GAMBOA is awake when you’re asleep, and vice-versa. If seen, he is likely sleep deprived and should not be disturbed. Find him on Twitter @migyarados.