The Boiler

Lauren Haldeman

SELECTIONS FROM INSTEAD OF DYING

Instead of dying,  we  take  you  in — sick,  alone,  confused  — and
start a series of healing  regimens.   For  the   first  week  you drink
only  water   infused   with  lavender  and  vinegar.  After  the  new
moon,   we   begin   to   feed  you   base  elements:  cream of tartar,
kombucha,  filmjölk,  carrots.  When the visions  subside,  we  start
the  physical routine.  The   air   is   still  cold  as  we start your lake
swimming cycles — twice  across   &  back   the  length.   You   hear
robins   like  ticker   tape   through   the  branches   of   April.   Your
mood  improves.   We  cut  out   bread,  cereals,  muffins,  milk.  We
cut   out   gumdrops,   taffy,   milkshakes,   wheat.   Your  hair calms
down, your fingernails are  trimmed.  Instead  of  dying,  you  start
jogging,   in   a  zip-up  track-suit,  early  in the morning, sunlight a
disco ball across your face, lawn-sprinklers starting up all over the
neighborhood.

Instead   of    dying,    you    build    an    elaborate    village    out    of  
plumbing.    Even    the     plumbing    has   plumbing.   You   tell   the
community   that   this  construct  of  vital passageways is indicative
of   microcosms   within   the   geodesic   loop.   You   tell   them  that
space   isn’t  space  without  unfilled  vessels.  You   explain  how the
pipes  are  not  the  actual   substance  of  the  village’s  construction

— it’s   the  air  that  the  tubes   go  through.  Ignore  the  pipes,  you
say.  The  real  plumbing  is  the  space  in-between.  This  is the true
disposal system. This was the way the universe is flushed & refilled.

 


Lauren Haldeman is the author of the poetry collections Instead of Dying (winner of the 2017 Colorado Prize for Poetry, forthcoming from Center for Literary Publishing 2017), Calenday (Rescue Press 2014) and the artist book The Eccentricity is Zero (Digraph Press 2014). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, The Colorado Review, Fence, jubilat, The Iowa Review, and The Rumpus. A comic book artist and poet, she has been a recipient of a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award and fellowships from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. You can find her online at http://laurenhaldeman.com