Manifesto Carpet

by Alicia Catt

I was 22 and living in a brownstone walk-up on West Grant, where I parked my car three blocks from home, where I tramped around town in platform leather, where everything smelled like warm gasoline and spiced rum and Vietnamese take-out;

the building was called Brentwood, a fancier name than it deserved, all of the rodents and pigeon shit and peeling paint and leaky faucetry, and I got so drunk sometimes I couldn't make it up the stairs but for crawling on my hands and knees, slumping against the fire doors between flights, watching the paisley casino carpet swirl around me, underneath me, above me, a blue berber monsoon--manifesto carpet, I remember calling it, like this was where one might go to write theirs;

right there, perched on the observation ledge at the edge of the fourth floor hallway, bare feet propped on the chipped radiator, laptop askew, hung halfway out the open window for one bar of stolen Internet, fingers pecking out Morse code melodies on the keyboard missing five keys--then six, when J jiggled free and jumped a jolly jig down to the street below;

yes, from that same window I could see the Basilica spire slicing into the skyline like a soft white scalpel, and the cathedral bells never ever stopped clanging, not for a moment, not for a prayer, not for a red-letter hangover, not on Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year's Eve or Good Friday or the whole of bloody Lent, or Easter, when I threw the seven rotten eggs that'd sat in my refrigerator since October out the window, watched them split open against the sidewalk, black and blue and yellow yolks, sharp sulfur mixing with curried mock duck and gasoline and Sunday best's perfume;

I dove off the ledge, swam through that enchanted carpet, buried my head in the toilet bowl while Jesus rose from the dead.