Lab Report

Rose Swartz

Experiment for Combating the Disorder Commonly Known as “Being in Love with the Idea of Being in Love”

Introduction/Purpose:

Being in love with the idea of being in love is a tired game. The old voodoo of mix tapes crackling has lost its sacred feel. Idealized versions of lovers are lodged inside our psyches, burning like several Detroits: decades post-riot, still crumbling, disarrayed. The collection and combination of materials, done in specific accordance with the methods outlined below, properly delivered and catalyzed by lightning-bug lightning, and left in the outgoing parcel bin of the experimenter’s all-night post-office will cleanse and expunge memories and daydream banks of any lingering, hyperbolic associations with ex-lovers and fantasies.

Conditions:

Night is the only proper venue for this experiment.

Home is where the sentimental trouble starts—

choose a well-known road to begin the experiment.

Stare at the dark parts of the sky when feeling lost/overwhelmed.

Choose a lab partner who is a platonic friend of no less than five years.

Choose a lab partner with similar life experience (the swallowing of gasoline/laundry detergent as a child, nightly performances of push-ups/sit-ups whose number is determined by age, compulsive raw vegetable consumption etc.)

Material and Method:

1. Middling the Road

We walked the inky dark of a semi-suburban street,

paint scrapers clanking in pockets, hanging off clothes.

Started at the dead-end apartment complex where there had once been a forest,

where the comma-shaped cul-de-sacs bear the names of absent trees:

On Sycamore Lane, on Sugar Maple Street,

we noticed how the naming of things can suspend disbelief.

Kneeled down and scraped the yellow paint from the center line:

curling, gummy, chemical. At least three blocks worth.

Fingers raw with the pattern of asphalt.

Put the shavings in a pile.

2. Dead Bird watch

Observed the carcass of a sparrow pressed and flattened at the end of a driveway.

Found one pigeon bleeding and bloating,

noted how it’s rainbow-sheen feathers merged with spilled gasoline.

Continued walking.

Gathered six crushed robin’s eggs with bodies inside, curled like tips of thumbs.

Eased these on a large shovel.

Were careful not to touch the birds.

Carried them back to the pile of road shavings.

Each experimenter possesses a bed of three egg husks and three yellow petrochemical shavings.

3. Severing in Leather

Sliced open the old boot.

The boot was so old that it split like a rotten melon.

Used an Exacto knife, more for stylish surgical effect than necessity.

4. Packaging

Stuffed the bird bodies and road shavings in respective boot halves.

Carried them in arms outstretched.

Began trekking through the nature preserve to the all-night post-office.*

*see Table 1.1.

1.1

Everybody has an all-night post office. It is a clearinghouse for letters attempted, abandoned, sent, and unsent. Everyone anyone has ever wanted to communicate with has a box there. The boxes are all different. The medium matches the message. People never run into one another there. There are no lines. Nothing at this office is that easily solvable. Everybody’s post office looks different. They are graveyards, empty movie theaters, sloppy filing cabinets—emporiums of loss and miscommunication. Mine is lit like the desert at moonlight. The boxes look like folk art statues, crematorium boxes, cubbies in a kindergarten art room. The appearance of one’s post office shifts depending on the level of technological immersion. I imagine the all-night post offices of the future will glow like little Las Vegas’s of discarded text messages. The internet has slid into the skyline of my post office. It gives the place a sharp blue light. Sometimes the pine trees look two-dimensional. Sometimes I trip over stray pixels.

5. Asylum Lake Trail

Different walk-by movies whirred and projected separate skies as we walked side-by-side. We called out to each other, our voices thinning through all the places we imagined our desires and bodies going, the phantasmal ours’ being ours with the them. Through daydream and popular memory. Through pronouns repeated like rosaries. The mystery of the unreachable them thick in the air, rising like mist or floor wax. When we arrived before dawn at the meadow of the all-night post office the air felt pre-tornado, monsoon and shifty, manic, prickly, refrigerated, swirling.

6. Photuris pennsylvanicus; One Mississippi, Two

Scraped the lightning from the lightning bugs.*

Blinked rapidly in the meadow, dental equipment and sharpened kitchen miniature tools in our numbed hands. Scraped that lightning out and smeared it on each other’s parcels.

*Lab partners must put lightning from lightning bugs on each other’s boot/road shaving/bird egg offering. If the lightning is observed before being added to the boot and its contents, the lab will be contaminated.

7. Light Fuse, Get Away

Left the boot halves in outgoing parcel boxes. Stared past the glow of dead birds and road paint, the smeared bioluminescent mirage: names and addresses of casted-out longing. Left the post office, ran. Called for each other, brought each other back from transfixed staring. Ran and ran and ran. Past fields full of tires, of junkyards, of buffalo. Meaningless objects crowded the trail. We bounced off them with no expectation.

Conclusion:

So far there has been no relapse.

The little veins of bugs hang like nerves in the air.

We removed the plaque of it: emotional, chemical, half-blind in the night.

It was a complicated dance, unchoreographed and bizarre.

Slipping in icy lots again and again, exhausted as the day rises,

boots heavy with slime and condensed energy.

Like the hush of a city block losing power. Have you ever licked a battery? Slammed a finger in a window? Drank grain alcohol from the Indiana border?

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