From Something Solid: The Wilderness Sequence




The routine social maintenance of our domain—
another drunken night at McGlinchey’s, eyes & ears
to the ground as usual, broken then only by your
arrival. It must’ve been Nick who met you first,
I don’t remember, but I saw you were fixated on
him. Hannah: novelist, politico, of course, but looks which
teetered ambiguously into divisiveness for those
who knew you— heavy brows, wavy hair, tall, a bit
tomboyish, also, but articulate, a charmer, & yet I
registered the sense that if I ever got you, it would
be something gratuitous, a surprise, because closed
seemed to be the fortress, & choosing Nick seemed
to betray a masochistic streak. That night, his front
swelled visibly with your arrival— I stepped back.

You were, must’ve been, I later realized, underwater
somehow, surveying currents, examining the wildlife,
surreptitiously & invisibly carving a watery path to me.
I had only what the male of the species always has—
the equipment to complete your circuitry, potent or
impotent in any time or context, waiting latent to
take our moment, make it crescendo through the reef,
weed, rock, as though destined, written into ocean’s
records an eternity ago, when all life dwelt in the ocean,
all encounters occurred in resplendent semi-darkness.
And all this still sitting with the gang at the Glinch,
holding your own with a bunch of macho punks, who
were taking something in Philadelphia by force, me
selected silently, the tomboy an Ocean Queen, crowned—


I’d made plans to meet you in Bar Noir
on 18th; you were there; we drank. What
happened after that, in the Logan Square
flat, is that in defrocking you knocked over
an antique lamp bequeathed to me by my
aunt in Mahopac. Serendipity, I thought,
stunned then into silence by your bedroom
élan. Outside, a sultry night simmered; this
night of all nights, scattered green glass littered
my bedroom floor, & I finally got taken, past
liquor, to what eternity was only in your mouth—
as though you’d jumped from a forest scene
(ferns, redwoods), a world of pagan magic,
into a scene still undulant with possibilities

Of all possible resolutions, I remained innocent,
transfixed by your sexual power. I naively hoped
we’d hook up again, bolstered by soul material
which took you seriously as sister & lover. As I
unveiled the public highlight of our Mid-Aughts
run (actual press attention, significant amounts of
money involved), I was undone that you’d already
latched onto another, not against any grains of
what we’d established, which was just cacophonous
frenzy, heavenly but inchoate, but still painful as I
swam some very worldly waters, sleazed & slimed.
Was it even you anymore? You took the podium,
began your screed: here’s what Philadelphia could be.
For me, we’d already realized an ideal Philly, limpidly
set as an expression of the ecstatic, in an enchanted
grove in Logan Square. The night proceeded from
act to act— our enemies were taken aback— I now
had an economy of big-boy curating entanglements.
I knew that place— the wrong kind of underwater,
piranhas hungrily looking for what might be real to
tear it to shreds, offal everywhere— was not for me,
just as (to be stern) you were not for me either. All
the politico moves were about barnstorming fortresses
set against you, ravishing them through pure force
majeure. You were pure angel/demon, Hannah. I’d
have to retreat to the back of your consciousness— an
old conquest, not especially vaunted, burrowing down
into holes to find reality, missing the beauty of unreality’s dance—