Author: Melissa Allen

December 13

Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

On the one hand there’s me, and on the other there’s you. For a while it seemed that these disparate systems could be reconciled theoretically, but as it turned out, they belong to two different worlds entirely, two universes that are spinning away from each other, two realities that will never collide again.

lies down in a snowdrift a theory of motion

December 12

The minute (it seemed) I learned to read, my mother exhumed her old books from my grandparents’ basement and a few minutes later (it seemed) I had read them all. Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, Trixie Belden: A throng of intrepid, sensible girls with perfect middle-class manners, politely but eagerly scouring the world for clues. And finding them! So many clues! I was desperate to find clues, desperate for a mystery. I eavesdropped whenever possible. Skulked around opening dresser drawers. Rifled through the mail, learned to steam open envelopes. Turned books on their side and shook them, hoping for something to drop out—a ransom note, plans for a bank robbery, a lost will. But there was never anything in my child’s life worth the name of mystery. That all came much later.

deep in the brambles I hear my heart rustling

December 11

Oh! I forgot to tell you that I went to Paris this summer!

I was all set to show you photos of it but the uploader isn’t working for inscrutable reasons of its own. So I guess I have to resort to words.

Paris looks exactly like Paris. It’s a shock, seeing as how so many places don’t really look like themselves these days, except maybe for a little bit in the middle. You can see the sky everywhere in Paris because they don’t believe in tall buildings. They also don’t really believe in ugly buildings. They have some, but they don’t believe in them.

Paris also tastes exactly like Paris. I went into a little bit of mourning when I came back to America because it had become clear to me how terribly wrong almost everything about our food is, from the ingredients to the preparation to the quantity to the places we eat it to the amount of time we take to eat it. I’m not sure how sanguine I can be about the future of a country that doesn’t even know how to eat.

I understand spoken French on about the level of a three- to five-year-old child, though I don’t speak it nearly that well. One of the things I want to do someday is stay in France until I can speak the language like a grownup or at least a middle-schooler.

My sister and I stayed in the 11th arrondissement, which is now my favorite arrondissement, in the Airbnb apartment of a woman whose furnishings were so exactly to our taste and so perfectly French that we want to be Céline when we grow up. Or maybe just we want to be ourselves, but in the 11th arrondissement.

That’s all I’ve got today, no poetry, maybe tomorrow.


December 10

I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian novels lately for some strange reason (also popping beta blockers and reading up on the immigration policies of any country that seems like it might be marginally more sane than my own, though let me tell you those get rarer by the day). What’s interesting about dystopian novels is that, though they propose a dozen different ways for the world to end, some quite baroque and imaginative, they are not really about how everyone dies. They’re about how people manage to live. They’re exploratory proposals for a hypothetical future where at least some of us come out on the other side of the disaster.

comparing a lily with a double helix

rising seas time packed in water

as cold as you can get a burning bush