The Unswung Bat

Friday, September 29, 2006
 
Hydrolysis

[Zoot McEditorialHat: If you're gonna read this, you'd better read it all, otherwise you might take me for some emo brat. 'Tis fictive, yes okay?]

A brine cloud, dark with unresolved shapes, wrestles and spins. The janitor worries at me. Pokes his head into the classroom and asks hawr you doin', brather? I'm muted and surprised. Good question: hawr'm'I doing? Fine, good. Yeah, in about an hour ("an awr, okay. Mmhm-kay"). Peremptory and warming. I curl my fingers to hide the chalk dust, hoping to escape credit for the maudlin doodles on the blackboard. Cough, gulp down the ocean.

Sputter. Impatience is typical and seething. I clack long-uncut fingernails against the formerly varnished wood of the desk, sending miniscule shocks of pain up the back of the digits. This means what? A bone ache sinks my skeleton till I wish I would just fly off it. Pop like a grape and be done. Done and gone. What is this feeling?

I'm wearing my coat indoors. I'm still shivering from this morning, when I woke up under a hole in my ceiling that'd appeared during the night. A blister in the surface of the ceiling, with gray cracks veined around it, had always been a sign of water damage, but I hadn't expected it to break through like that. I especially hadn't expected to sleep through the soaking breach.

The hole was dark and mouse-sized, tunnelling into the grimy, wet-smelling hollow under the roof, and dribbling a few strings of battering droplets on my freezing bedsheets. I'd had cold dreams. I was on an offshore oil rig, a metal island in the Atlantic, with every friend and loved one I could think of. You were there. In a sloshing storm. The massive curling sheet of ocean was indented with millions of sharply edged raindrop craters, swirling with a static roar. We talked. Forty minutes in the shower failed to stop the shaking. It came from my bones.

I've thrown hard and hot stares around all day, though my freezing lungs are empty and my head should be in a sling. Tiny lines appear in my skull, not unlike the antpath cracks that announced the imminent failure of my ceiling, but these are from thermal fracture. I need my skull tapped and the overheated contents drained, till nothing moves in there. A yoghurty stream of a mental substance will slow to a trickle and then crust around the closed wound.

The title of a piece, a bit more subtle than in the days when it just stated the subject, usually focuses attention like a lens on a part of the work that is poignant but a little blurry in its relation to the whole. The title throws it into sharpness, and the moment this happens can announce an important juncture or reversal. This title hasn't clicked yet, and now there's a mess of yoghurt and some chalk dust involved.

Hydrolysis: a chemical process in which a molecule is split into two parts by reacting with a molecule of water. One part inherits an OH- group from the water, and the other an H+. Atomic bonds cleave and reform differently into bigger molecules. Simple systems spontaneously complicate. The opposite reaction points against time's arrow.

Inside an organic being, with low concentrations of reactants, hydrolytic cleaveage reactions are essentially irreversible, the reactants being almost utterly consumed. Because reversing the reaction is, practically, thermodynamically impossible, many metabolic pathways are driven forward by the breaking of certain anhydrous compounds. No. Hold on.

The reaction proceeding in only one direction, the organism lives along that one direction, instead of oscillating between metabolism and anti-metabolism. No, that's not quite right. Malesh. But time is the axis along which pyrophosphate becomes inorganic phosphate. That doesn't go backwards, not -- almost by definintion -- in a living thing. As likely as a child reincorporating with its parents. Time is the progressive irreversible splitting and forward motion of the organic system.

Maybe it's Maxwell's demon pushing pieces the wrong way. My nerves are shutting down. My skin is cold and rosy with un-deoxygenated blood, cells turning the O2 back at the border. Is there bitter almond on my breath? Does that make sense? Can I find someone who knows?

I can't write. A brine mist of prior shapes and intimations wrestles and spins, I can trace its holding lines. I am back at the beginning, and writing in the style of wasted poets. I can't write. Caught in the churn, up, under, breach, choke. Claw back upward like the scheming or insane—but in either case dying—faith healer poisoned and hypothermic in the frigid river Neva. Be furious, rake and buoy. I'm exhuasted, dear. Pull me. No. Me: Swallow the ocean. Pave a highway on the sandy bed. Lay down.

Pick me up, dear, from the bottom, leave me up, Lord, ev, er, y, day. The janitor worries about me. Pokes his head in my room and asks hawr you doing brather, to which my surprise can't find a convincing response. Hawrm'I doing? Fine, good. Yeah, in about an awr (at 6:00 p.m.). Ducking back, running over the same old ground, (what have we found?). Mmhm-good. Peremptory and warming. I curl my fingers to hide the chalk dust, hoping to escape credit for the maudlin scribble on the blackboard.

Impatience seethes. I can't wait to leave the building, to get through the crowd. On the subway I'm impatient -- for what? To get home? I'm going! To go blank and slack. It seems like I'm hyperventilating, but I know really I'm breathing out to try keep down an internal pressure. Otherwise I know I'll explode.

If I walk home alone, will the moon fall on me? What year is this? If I push myself back through those tiny pathways, water flying up through the ceiling, freezing spatter withdrawing through the dream, antimetabolism, is there any chance of future becoming past at all. Is there. And

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Do you think you can tell?



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