We'll return to the roof and it will rain


I lie in someone else’s bed and look at my mirror image to my left showing part sheet following the shape of my body and part real body. I wish the mirror was not a mirror but a window and that it looked out onto the ocean. Windows and the ocean, water, are reflective too, but mostly they let us look through them. A translucent layer warped by our vision, or vice versa. From one corner of our eye to the other, and the half circle, I imagine, that covers all we can see in between as we pause our movement. A moment. Like a sun, we see with rays of perception and sometimes it takes years before we see what was already here. We see the dust on the surface, we see the other side and a fragment of ourselves reflected, changed by the light of day. Some linguists map the origin of Indo-European languages as a sun, its shape resembling the the 240º of both our eyes’ peripheral vision, a kind of half circle.


In Água Viva Clarice Lispector writes: “There is much I cannot tell you. I am not going to be autobiographical. I want to be ‘bio.’” I want to be too, but I also want to be by you. She continues and I follow, “I write with the flow of words. / Before the appearance of the mirror, the person didn’t know his own face except reflected in the waters of a lake. After a certain point everyone is responsible for the face he has.”[1]


Mirrors mostly show backwards, show us ourselves and what is behind us. Are we then behind ourselves, I wonder, as I lay here. Meaning, is my Self ahead of my body? Maybe. I like how through the mirror I become part of the landscape, how I can see myself next to you, instead of just seeing you. Next to the mirror we are both part shaped bodies and part real bodies, we are an image of us in front or behind of us, depending on where our eyes go first. But sometimes I don’t want to see myself, nor to be seen; I want to erase myself temporarily. Just want to move and pause. I go to the ocean. It is a privilege to be able to choose to disappear. In this new city I used to go to the ocean every Sunday, two buses, a walk from Venice to Santa Monica and the train back downtown. It would take hours in which I could not do much else other than move. I followed the shape of the land, I mirrored the land. Becoming a surface. Did I? If so, are you mirroring me too by touching my skin, are we each other’s surface, do we separate our bodies of taking up and moving space at close distance? What are the dynamics of our play of seeing, touching, moving (away), and returning?  


This is the third July I am in Tucson. The first time I followed my heart somewhere. I didn’t know there was a monsoon season. My brother and I arrived in the afternoon. Low clouds had been coming in over the Santa Catalina mountains on the East, but I had not imagined that rain would really fall from them; I had imagined we are in the desert and there will be a thread of storm. Just the thread of storm. But thick tepid drops fell and created pools in the red sand in our backyard and I soaked my feet in them. The pools reflected the sky. The whole desert changed, it became an ocean too. The contrast of the heat during the day and the wetness of the evening held me in place, exciting my skin and calming my breath––as if tied with robes between tides bringing me to near anxiety and to relief, day after day. When a dry ocean bed is flooded with water for weeks every summer is it the land or the water that remembers to return?


Throughout Arizona run dry riverbeds, arroyos secos. Since the first centuries B.C. and into the 15th century the Hohokam created an extensive irrigation system around the Gila and Salt rivers as well further South where lies what is now called Pima County. There has always been water, and it returns. The Hohokam have been said to have disappeared; in O’odham they mean the vanished. Yet they are here, in the dry river beds, in architectural ruins, in petroglyphs and pottery and living on in people living in the desert. The Tohono O’odnam, desert people, are descendants of the Hohokam. They have lived in a place called Wa:k, changed to Del Bac when Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, an Italian Jesuit, came and founded the San Xavier Del Bac mission for New Spain in 1692. Wa:k means where water (re)appears. There used to be springs in the ground, now water appears when it rains.


Do we ever remember the same? Can we have the same memory twice, and can you and I have the same memory? You said “we will never forget this” as we stood on the roof. The sky was still a little purple and everything was hot. I already wondered then, can we have a memory together? In Tedi López Mill’s book, Against the Current, translated by Wendy Burke, it is water, a river that allegorically holds everything: fish, garbage, anger, a city’s structure, ideas, love, a face, the sky. A stream of memory. It swirls how it wants, slips our mind, but we feel and thus follow it. “Waning memory, symbolist attribute of its river, though it may prowl, / though the surge may drop off bit by bit until only the spurt of water / in the bucket remains, miniature jet of quicksilver.”[2]


Instead of having memories, might we rather be memories? A mirror will show us something before we see it and so is it inherently a constructed past, that we are a par/s/t of too? And water, its particles perpetually in flux, fleets our perceptive capability and is its reflection therefore ahead or behind us? I do not care for a time distinction as such per se, but, like certain metaphysicists I care about movement. Yet this night I wonder, what if I were to stay, remain in one place. I would still not be still, but would I remember to return, would you?


“you, surface water, are the deepest feeling, dove of mine, crow / of an hour pecking at hollows, I can hear more: I love and don’t love you.”[3]


[1] Lispector, Clarice, Água Viva, translated by Stefan Tobler. New York: New Directions, 2012: 29

[2] López Mills, Tedi, Against the Current, translated by Wendy Burke. Los Angeles: Phoneme Media, 2016: 8

[3] Ibid.

Lara Schoorl is a poet and art historian from the Netherlands and lives in Los Angeles. She is the publicity manager at The Green Lantern Press in Chicago and works at the Museum of Jurassic Technology and Hat & Beard Press. Her writing can be found in or is forthcoming with The Conversant, The LA Review of Books, Dream Pop Journal, FOUNDATIONS, and the anthology Sisternhood. She is a co-author of the end of may