Endless Sky

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Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

An airless pink balloon rested in the Ash tree by the lake all Spring. Every day I walked by it and wondered when a gust of wind would unseat it, but it was tenacious. I once saw a short Mexican man peering at it, as if he were also pondering that question. His wife was nearby, retying her shoe laces. She was taking a long time about it—I figured that she was struggling with arthritic fingers.

A pair of rain pants I had bought online had arrived that morning in the mail, just as I was setting out for the park, and I was eager to get home to try them on. I hoped that the bottom of the pants were wide enough to fit over my hiking boots—if not I would have to return them. I had recently bought a number of things online for hiking, including a Victorinox knife. I felt gratified by all the tools it had, including a small saw and a pair of tweezers. The Mexican man kept squinting at the balloon.

A week later I walked by the tree and the balloon was gone. Nearby, in the lake, a Cormorant swam toward a lone pelican. Some mornings there were four pairs of White American Pelicans, but this morning there was only this one bird. These pelicans have wing-spans as wide as nine feet.

The sun was rising. It emerged as an orange ball from behind the Denver skyline. The air was hazy with smoke from California wildfires. The smoke mixed with pollen and further irritated my eyes. I reminded myself to inhale some Flonase when I returned home.

Every morning my wife consults her i-phone and, as we drink our coffee, reports on the local pollen levels. My wife suffers from many sensitivities and her reports irritate me. They make me feel that she is focusing on life’s problems rather than its joys.

In our backyard, tomato seeds have sprouted. They flower, fruit, impart peace, ask: how can we serve? They shouldn’t have to ask. We’ve planted a number of exotic varieties. A friend of mine, who’s riding across the country on his motorcycle and has stopped for a break for a couple of days, asks me what they are. You’ve never seen a tomato, I ask him. Well, not purple ones, he says. He’s seeing a lot of landscape on his motorcycle, and now he’s seen a purple tomato. He’s about to ascend into the Rocky Mountains. I give him a small cannister of oxygen. He looks at me quizzically. The air’s thin up there, I say. Don’t drink too much booze. Drink plenty of water.

I’ve been meaning to ask you, he says, why you shaved your head?
All that curly hair made me look too Jewish, I say.
Nothing wrong with being a Jew, he says, though a lot of people think so.

He gets on his bike, kicks it to life. I roll open the gate to the alley. He takes off.
It’s another bright, cloudless Colorado day. For no particular reason, I think: the tenacity of Ego is impressive, but the sky is endless.

PROTOCOLS

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

The iris doesn’t sleep, patiently abiding night and her insomnia. She wonders if other plants sleep better. She never communicates with them.

Throughout the night I suffer from what I think is tinnitus. What I’m really hearing are the sounds of plants’ near-silent orgasms. The iris does not have orgasms—she is incapable of them.

Kids on a wet tarp slide headlong, shriek with delight at the year-end picnic. Protocols of the Elders of Zion echo down this dry canyon.

AT THE BOTANIC GARDEN

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

At the botanic garden, lunch is a green salad by the lily pond. My young granddaughter chooses a hot dog. She puts a lot of mustard on it. She knows that I don’t eat meat or cheese. I explained to her why I don’t, but my explanations, both moral and health-oriented, left her unmoved. I’m happy that she is confident enough to follow her own inclinations, but would have been happier if she had chosen to follow me.

As she chews her hot dog, she becomes transfixed by a teenaged girl with green hair, but makes no comment about it. The environment is filled with green plants and the teen’s hair fits right in.

I’ve left my wife at home, suffering with fibromyalgia. Sometimes she’s in a lot of pain. Sometimes the complaint is numbness in her limbs, sometimes fatigue. She ends up watching a lot of television, which disturbs me. I have an elitist’s contempt for television, for most forms of mass entertainment. I like to spend time among books, plants, and flowers. I like to watch the lily pads floating in the pond in front of the park’s restaurant. I like to bring picnics and eat them in the Victorian glass house that the garden has had dismantled and shipped from Cornwall.

Chronic pain sometimes demands to be spoken and recognized and commiserated with. Sometimes pain needs to be flooded by superficial television plots. The garden is still. My granddaughter chews her hot dog.

Later, we walk the paths and come across a vanilla ice cream cone melted on one of the park’s hot sidewalks. There’s a black bike tread through it. My granddaughter stops to examine it. I’ve never seen anyone on a bicycle in this garden and didn’t think they allowed them. Then I realize that I’ve misinterpreted—it’s not a bike tread—it’s from a garden cart. My granddaughter says: I wonder if that little girl cried.

What little girl?

The one who dropped her ice cream cone.

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Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, is based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

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