tropaeolum majus

I am on the 55 Monterey Express. The hills are brown and flaxen and the trees are alternatingly tall and grand or hunched and shrubby. I sit with my legs set wide around my green suitcase. The flesh of my thighs jiggles with each jolt of the slumbering bus.

The woman in the row to my left has a dark blue bag covered in brightly spotted elephants and giraffes. Her shoes are red, and the cuffs of her sweatshirt are striped from top to bottom: green, white, red. Her remaining articles of clothing are all a jarring bright blue. Italia. She is asleep. No one else is of note. The sandy haired woman in front of me is playing a slot machine on her phone. Her forearm tattoo depicts large orange flowers with stamens dripping out of them suggestively. Below, in loopy text, ” …1970 – July 8, 2004 ” Rolly or Robby. Father perhaps? Her shirt is white fading to pink. We pass the Lakeside Nursery, and their field is filled with minuscule christmas trees.

Before boarding the bus I sat in San Jose for an hour, and the streets were wide and sunlit and inclusive of dust and businessman and traveler. We pass Gilroy, and the last time I was here I smelled the garlic. Perhaps this bus is better ventilated, or perhaps then I was driving and had opened my windows. Corn grows in patchy shrieks amidst well manicured building-size stacks of wooden pallets. I recognize bits of things. One corner of a shopping center. The bold mural on the gas station. The grey farm house that has been scooped up by the hills like chip dip. A salmon colored bus stop. The driver staggers from his seat and goes into the pink building. Are beer bellies a product of drinking beer? The bus is idling, and its rumble is now nimble, clean, aggressive. My left thigh is sore. I stretch and my back cracks and the doors close. The grumble is now bold, a man falling from a glass-bottom observation deck. The woman in front of me has put on a bright blue jacket. She eats pretzels vigorously, and then picks up her phone. She doesn’t seem to be winning.

The last time I passed over this ground, I was a becoming. A viscous grey brightness. I am now more of a solidity. I am orange light, and I am less shifted. This terrifies me. We hit the artichoke center of the world. We find the ocean. The woman to my left wakes up, and her eyes are full. She puts her forearm through the strap of her bag. We arrive in Monterey.

 

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