To walk in an American city is to somehow bear the collective sins of an entire culture, to be seen, simultaneously, as both pariah and saint. Oil spilled from cars floats on the giant moat-like puddles we have to splash through to get anywhere in recent days of unseasonably warm weather. It’s a constant reminder of our own fragility and mortality, oil and water a part of our rituals of death and purification, anointing and cleansing, loss and redemption.
I want to lay paper flat on the toxic sheen of each intersection, print it with the excess oil we use to anoint our dying species. I want to marble paper, to study its mesmerizing patterns, to read it like tea leaves, and then burn it, an effigy, a sacrifice, the letters of that lover who was incapable of love. I want to worry the ashes between my fingers and see if that grit feels more like funeral or phoenix.