"Preface" by Andrea Baker

I remember this Yugoslavian cowboy painter who had slicked back hair and very formal Roman busts in all of his paintings. Matisse sat on his balcony turning things over in his mind: mat, fish, bowl.


An echo is a mountain.


At the park the children came running to sit in the laps of their mothers. The parking lot stood still, full of cars, the metal rising and expanding on that warm spring day.


Where a still fan is even some form of weeping. And everything arrested must be sad.


So I said, holding up the arm, so I said, the hand shielding a face, so I said, feeling up the arm, so I said, holding its hand, loosing straight down from the spine I said


I was watching a withered woman walk a withered dog down a street of meticulous garden houses. I was watching some people jump-start their cars. Then there were more than the known selves. A lady came by, she was the bearded lady and she knew how to escape from jackets. I believe the cars began to run and their people got in them.


As if a point of interest could be found where in place we are dilated with craving. I put a model of the drink in a model of the cupboard that represents the one in the real room. Try to understand behavior like our own.


If the child had not introduced himself properly he was scolded and sent to the end of the line. And so we moved him to the place that symbolized the end. In the real room the children kept moving. Someone was trying to find order by placing them in a line and if, after advancing to the front of the line and being instructed to introduce himself, if he did not provide an introduction, we put his model in the model of the cupboard so the room had no children.


I understood something normal; I had no plans for the future.


And so I paid $2.35 for the artichoke because I wanted that type of intimacy with my husband. Though we all agree we don’t like having these feelings, I keep looking for something I can steal.


Though I think you’re right. Watch the curious stand atop cars and watch the mischievous throw their rocks. Pray harder. But what is it to slip and what is it to yield?


The cowboy painter flicked his finger like there was a cigarette and said No good. He meant take off your shirt as I paint you. You were left to think he was offended by the tones of your shirt and how they blended with the tones of your skin. He experiences himself as a prayer.


The workingmen go to work to experience themselves as prayers. Against the deadened cars, their acetylene ravens breaking apart the cars. Their blackened throats shifting in the kill deeper.


And so I said, hand rising higher, so I said, my hand shielding face, I said, crave throated. Dilated with crave.


Dancing with my eyes, the Hubbell’s on the cover of National Geographic again. This is just reporting, but I read there’s a star that looks like a human eye. Turning to myself, I say I don’t like having these feelings but who can claim the right to choose.


Let me just say, I don’t really look like this. Let me just say a rabid cat ran from a rabid dog, laughing.


In the story of the children there was a day when they were all outside playing and we were playing with them in the sun, thinking how long will we be able to live on the outside. Only we didn’t know what we believed.


And let me tell you, there were hands clinging to themselves everywhere. As a body would be, one all together. Where the long night and the soul recur spontaneously, the landscape glows a vivid blue.


—"Preface" from Like Wind Loves a Window by Andrea Baker. Copyright © 2005 by Slope Editions. Used by permission of Slope Editions.