There must be something. If everything is moving ever faster, there must be something that isn’t moving ever faster. Something if not completely still, then slow enough to touch. What does he think of it, the traffic cop in his hat and yellow vest, motionless, poised exactly along the middle line of what he’s trained to stop when it isn’t stopping: four lanes that only converge colliding, and otherwise plunge forward like a river to its death, or like what a river wants and has its way with: fish, silt, trash, the body of someone who trusted it. What becomes of the yellow lines painted down the middle of the road, parallel, immediately peeling between tires and pavement. There must be something that knows how to slow without stopping; there must be a way to look straight at it while it’s still moving. Once, in the mountains, in inadequate footwear, I lay down with others on a clean staircase of long, flat stones that snow had learned to trickle around as it melted its way down the slopes. (I’m not sure whether the presence of others made it slower or faster.) When I closed my eyes, the water was the only thing I heard. (Once, water was the only thing I heard.) But the water moved fast. Is there anything that moves forward without moving forward ever faster— what is it like for her, the shy opera student poised in the park to sing, the neon joggers arrowing around her like lasers. Or for the mango-seller as he peels an infinity of mangos, slicing slivers from one fruit after another after another after another. Or for the group of friends struggling to send up a star-shaped hot air balloon along the freeway without setting it on fire. I can think of no way to do it without setting it on fire, or stopping. I can think of no way that doesn’t start with once, even on repeat. Once, a friend had a hummingbird fall dead at his feet; he said it was strangely heavy when he picked it up. Once, I watched a drunk man lurch across the tracks. Once, I heard someone drop a glass, which shattered, during the slow, sweet note held so long by the saxophone that I waited either for him to breathe again or for his heart to snap. Once, and again, and again, and again, the moment of nearing my face to another face as if for the first time, or for the last—although the nearing uproots it, opens it up like an orange, mouth paused to meet the mouth of it, if only for an instant. If there is something that knows how to slow down even when it keeps going and going, then I’d like to know about it. What is it they become, competitive swimmer, insomniac hacktivist, hungry can-collector, father of a daughter braiding her own hair before bed— there must be a way to look at them while they’re still growing, to see them, water, numbers, hunger, daughter, somehow, and be unafraid of them and where they’re going. Not like the way I waited on a bus, at a stoplight, in a city both stalled and teeming, when the pause lingered in a way that felt truly eternal, or could become eternal—all my longing surging into the movement denied me, a frustration nearly erotic in its helplessness. What I thought, once, cowardly, before the bus lurched forward again and carried on towards who knows where I left it, because that’s the part I can’t remember, was I will be here forever, was I will be here for the rest of my life.
Tomado de Conflations/Amalgama, Antílope, CDMX, 2016, pp. 12-19. Se reproduce con autorización.
Imagen de portada: Carolina Magis Weinberg, Silent Before (detalle), 2016. Cortesía de la artista