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In Which The Author’s Father Harold Attempts Suicide in 1948 By Walking Across Flatbush Avenue Blind

By Nadia Ghent

I think, therefore I am, but if I don’t think then I am not: Descartes knew what he was talking about, but he had it backwards: sum ergo cogito, I am because I think, and making the thinking stop means that I will not be, the “I am” cut out of my heart, spreading my body into nothingness, and I can feel the blindfold tight against my eyes, and it is one a.m. and I am crossing Flatbush Avenue not seeing, not thinking, soon not being, it is a fabric, a shroud, a crown I wear like a cowboy kerchief across my face, I am King Harold of the Rough Riders, and the boys in the neighborhood make me out to be a sissy because I am soft and yielding and left-handed and I play the guitar, not Elvis but Johann Sebastian Bach, and I won’t ever be an ironworker like my father Lester and his crew of Iroquois and Mohawk walking in the sky on twelve-inch girders looking down at the world below from skyscraper skeletons, the linchpin on their tool belts releasing them when they fall, but they are not even as brave as I am, I am not a sissy because nobody else has ever walked across Flatbush Avenue blindfolded before, and I am here doing it right now, I can hear the traffic roar, cars honking even now so late, I know it is dark even though there must be a moon that I can’t see through the blindfold, but I can feel the streetlights shining down in photons of brilliance that illuminate me like God himself, I wish I could see what I look like with a divine halo, and I wonder what Mary Mother of God thinks about me, her lover boy, but the cars won’t see me when I cross, the Saturday night boys out for beer and girls, engines revving, those fantastic fins cutting, thrusting, shoving aside the hot night air, inside those dicks ride their thrones, foot on the gas foot on the gas foot on the gas, it’s not just a thrum but a roar the engine makes underneath the chassis, I can feel the vibrations on the pavement, and if I can hear it, it means that I am not yet nothing, but soon I will be nothing, Descartes never thought about the future, and I feel the blindfold which is actually mama’s hankie I stole from her top drawer because Lester’s don’t smell as nice, and I smell the dust, the exhaust, the oil leaking onto the manifold, the dirt smell of cars moving like souls across the desert looking for Jesus in a palm tree mirage, fast, hot, loud, and it is time to take a step, I dare myself to take a step, a dare is not an intersection but a straight line between two points in a plane which exists in space, in the universe the closest distance between two points is a line, but this is another axis, the function of which is to float above the “y” axis in the space above my steps, and each step will take me higher across Flatbush Avenue, I will be climbing up St. Peter’s ladder, by the time I get to the other side my feet won’t touch the pavement anymore, O Charon no need for the boat, I will float above, I will step with the lightness of grace over each car as it speeds down toward what used to be my body, since I will be nothing, the cars will all pass through me, a transubstantiation like the Jesuits taught me, the sinister in my left hand in this world can go by any other name, I am ready.

Nadia Ghent studied literature at Brown University and violin performance at the Manhattan School of Music and was a violinist for a long time but decided she had things to say and some of the things she has said have been published in Slag Glass City, Talking Writing, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Necessary Fiction, and she keeps on talking and writing while she works on a lyric memoir about music, parenthood, grief, and mental illness.

Art by Nick Botka, who lives in the Northwest, where he makes trippy visuals and runs a tape label.


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