Boundaries, Part I

It is true that when I am with you, I sometimes lose myself and speak without thinking and do not notice the buildings rising up like a tidal wave come to sweep us away. Why is that? Lacking an answer I decide to ask my friend about it, retired Marine Col. T.X. Hammes, who spent his 30-year career studying, fighting, and training insurgents around the globe. "For 900 years China tried to turn the Vietnamese into Chinese," he explains, "but when one outside group tries to force a cultural change on another, thereby eliminating its social structure, an insurgency can last forever." Good words, no doubt, but by the time he reaches the issue of Gulf War and Palestine my eyes have already wandered past his thinning hair and up to the moon. There is more to the world than words, it is true, and sometimes when I am with you their reach exceeds their grasp. "Which is what a heaven is for," Col. Hammes concludes. But I have already missed his point. I am too busy thinking about your face, which is not unlike the moon, how it rises up to meet my own, leaving me without a thing to say. And to think of all the places I’ve been! There was a time I swallowed cities whole and walked the highways with no body for company save my own, and the odd American tree, and the flying birds. "Then let me put it a different way," Col. Hammes interrupts – this is another day and we are crossing the park – "Some bacteria are able to resist innate immune defenses, like phagocytosis and the body's complement pathways. There are two categories of resistance, but it is only the first which concerns us here: the ability to resist phagocytic engulfment – by which I mean, attachment and ingestion. In other words, Michael… that’s life."

Maybe it is, Colonel; once you imagined yourself a military man and thirty years later you became just that. Whenever I sleep I am engulfed by dreams and can’t remember who I am -- bird or boy, woman or man. Once I dreamt I turned myself into a wolf and began hunting down everyone I knew. When I woke up my shirt was clean, my teeth were white, I was no hairier than the night before. And though the cells that make up my skin have collapsed a million times since then I am still here, and this is life; even when I am walking you between the buildings that would eat us alive; even as you lift your pretty face towards mine and we die, a little more each day.


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