Saturday, January 14, 2012
A piece of cornbread
brought her down.
She had been doing well enough,
doing things like
combing her hair,
brushing her teeth,
making the oversized sleigh bed that rested
at the center of her room--
those things that are hardest to do
She had been doing even better
with the necessary rituals,
like taking down the 5x7s
of them laughing
at the wedding of another
or learning to ride the subway
through the lump in her throat that boarded
the train at the stop they used to meet at
after their work days ended.
She took his name out of her mouth
and placed it in a drawer
close to the kitchen sink,
where she could come to fetch it
once it was less likely
to cut her gums and tongue.
But the cornbread was too much.
His favorite, presented in a tiny basket
at a dinner party
flanked by bricks of foil-wrapped butter,
sucking the air from the room,
forcing her to recall
his satisfied humming
his long-held preference
for baked goods
with actual kernels
folded into the batter.
A single cubic slice
of cornmeal and hot butter
brought him back into the room
like some dark ancient voodoo,
proving there could be
or going back to the world
that had been
before he came,
in a bread basket.
And so she did the only thing
the cursed can do in such situations:
She ate her heart out.
Fingers grasping at every square,
seeking out and devouring
every crumb of memory
stuffing it down
and swallowing away
each and every piece
unprettily and unrepentant
until butter glossed her lips,
and her breath was hot and audible,
and her dining partners shifted
in their seats.
And just like that,
he was gone again.
She dabbed the corners of her mouth
daintily with a napkin.
Later a young waiter
well-meaning and well-trained
passed by their table
with another steaming basket
cradled in his curved palm.
More bits of past swathed
in warmed white linen.
The young man extend one long arm
leaning down to land it
in the empty space between her wine glass
and the table's glowing candles.
This time she did nothing
except smile at her friends
with something close to victory
perched on the top of her nose.
She calmly rested a palm across
her slightly distended stomach.
It is hard to be eaten up inside
when one is already stuffed full.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Another bit of writing found scrawled on a napkin that made its way back from New Orleans to New York:
I'll never forget the morning
we discovered the little lemon
A little piece of summer
fallen on the pavement
You found the sun
hiding under pruned branches
And gently broke the rind with a thumbnail
turning the air bright
Then wrapped five fingers and a thumb around it
and carried it home.
You brought the sun with us.
Even on cloudy days
it is a glowing spot
on the landscape of a year
Your little lemon
the sweetness of you both--
I taste it when the days break bright,
that little pinch of sugar
spooned over each sour note
that dared follow us home.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
|The REAL Jersey Shore. Yeah.|
it was just after lunch when we found the map.
the clan was assembled in the sand as always:
sarah's lips stained red from cherry ice, a popsicle herself,
tiny and poised on paired stick legs;
cousins, browned like sausages in the sun,
digging holes with neon plastic buckets;
mom, smile lines burned into the crooks of her eyes,
holding out chilled wet grapes.
there was a hermit crab captive in my hand
all wet, small, flailing legs--
a slimed almond in its shell
using tickle as torture.
we were digging near the water,
dad and i and a few of the others,
he waist-deep and handsome in a wet hole,
the pile of sand nearby as tall as i;
and bill, with his slick green beer bottle illegally in hand, towering above it all.
then the map appeared,
conjured from the end of the old iron shovel, or it seemed.
mom was the one who pointed it out,
it teetering suddenly on the top of the pile as if dropped from the sky--
bill’s smile hidden behind ever other adult.
i dropped the crab.
the cousins let me unwind the scroll,
coarse and wet and bound with twine,
breaded with grains of damp stone and singed black at the edges--
the oldest didn't wait for the small ones.
we raced, speedo-ed gazelle on baked plains, tracing black ink to the first stop:
a clue on a chipped shell by the grass!
then another stampede to the ancient gazebo
for the note taped to weathered wood seats.
laura released the paper with shaking fingers.
kyle, the youngest, cried--we understood.
the excitement was too much to bear.
the entire beach was watching.
we found the X by the fence near the dunes,
where the bound plywood met the rise of sand in its drunk, erratic path,
a barrier to the barrier to the land.
"dig!" we cried to my father. "dig!"
and he did,
meaty shoulders driving the blade until it landed with a thud
on something that wasn't sand.
bill helped him heave the structure up and everyone gasped when they should,
an ebb of sound cresting through the modest crowd like a wave.
a small plane went by then,
pulling an airborne restaurant ad that went wholly ignored,
efforts outdone by our bounty.
it was a chest of bleached wood
pale and dry and entirely unmarred,
exactly as we'd seen in books,
and fastened shut with cheap rope.
one of the men loosed the top, then let us lift the lid.
our famously unsilenecable brood fell silent.
for a moment.
then the cries of glee broke free
and naked arms and legs splayed every which way,
the tallest going so far as to pull the youngest forward for a fair view.
we were family, after all.
chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil,
stacked to the brim and glinting in the sun.
all of us--
parents, offspring, in betweens--
glinting in return,
kings and queens of the day.
Friday, September 16, 2011
While I was busy creating diversions, some piece of brain lay awake at night like a cranky baby with melancolic, busy composing this.
Sometimes the anticipation of missing someone is worse than noticing they've gone.
Insomnia Postcard: Still Here
You have gone,
and will not miss me.
There are too many new pieces there
to puzzle together,
busying a mind.
I will not be behind that strange new leaf--
the light will dapple places
your feet have never touched,
and you will peer at your toes
at a new angle,
reexamining their oddness.
In moments you might miss me--
like in populated squares
where strangers' fingers weave together
Or glasses of red wine sit around
in lazy, bloody pairs--
You will discover a single dark braid
laid down a slim young woman's back,
and stare at it and wonder
what it would feel like
in your hand.
I will still be here,
where every curb is one already
stepped over with you,
and each street or mailbox
is a part
of a familiar, old routine--
The dog on the corner is vaguely imitating
one we walked together.
I will see naked light bulbs
and think not of fields, or toes,
but of your head, freshly shaven,
toasting in the sun.
I will discover new things also,
and feel them in my palm,
Then turn to show you
as if you were there
the place you usually sit.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I've been smelling the rank odor of blog death for weeks now.
What's that smell? I can't write with that stank all over!
It's the perfume of your own literary failure.
Oh. Well. Can you do something about it?
If you write it will go away.
That's absurd. 'Write'...nonsense. Just burn incense or something. Sandalwood, maybe.
I prefer strawberry.
I care not for your preference, I have writer's block and want to sulk in sandalwood.
Fine, stay a Debbie Downer with failure-stank all over her.
(EXITS, SLAMMING DOOR.
RANK ODOR INCREASES IN POTENCY.)
What's that smell??
Then I remembered the golden rule of the interwebs: If you find yourself unable to generate content, steal content from real writers. It's the blog equivalent of illegal organ harvesting. Or...yard doctoring. Yes, lets go with yard doctoring as a metaphor: Having discovered you can't even handle a ficus plant let alone an entire yard, you creep into your local botanist's private greenery and purloin some topiaries, then drop them into your lawn in the dead of night. The next day: Ta-da! New content, beautifully presented. Neighbors don't even ask whether you've taken up creative shrub-trimming--they're too busy going, "Oooooh, look, topiaries!" (If you doubt the accuracy of this metaphor, explain the prevalence of Tumblrs featuring adorable kittens that never give photo credit to the feline-photographer.)
Anyway, I'm diversioning attention away from the lack of work by posting more work by better writers. Starting................
THE SCARECROW, By Charles Simic
(from Aunt Lettuce, I Want To Peek Under Your Skirt)
God's refuted but the devil's not.
This year's tomatoes are something to see.
Bite into them, Martha,
As you would into a ripe apple.
After each bite add a little salt.
If the juices run down your chin
Onto your bare breasts,
Bend over the kitchen sink.
From there you can see your husband
Come to a dead stop in the empty field
Before one of his bleakest thoughts,
Spreading its arms like a scarecrow.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Found this today. Describing it as a wispy half-love poem by a sliver of sterotype girl burning incense in defense of insensitivity while wearing a hand-stitched dress.
(Yeah, say THAT five times fast.)
Inside the Envelope
leaning on you too much
but do not bend
When the lean reverses,
just let me be the sling
lean too hard and
yes, I will swing away
away, for now
but lay with me
or in me
and I will cradle you constantly
above it all, away
from din and dirty.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I fell off my blog.
Lost my balance when something unseen hip-checked me and tossed me off the wheels, into some dark corner.
I spent a few months feeling shadowy. I found and goofed around with Gollum, sat beside him turning things over and over in my palms. I grew accustomed to him waking me with a hissy little "my precious." We played handball with a bouncing circle of obsession. We spent a lot of time doing many things with words that end with "ession" in general.
There's a tremendous amount of equally esoteric metaphoric hooey that I could wax poetic about until you slam that Macbook shut while eye-rolling---wait, YOU, no, don't go yet, don't click off to the next pa--
--lost that one.
In short I fell off of much and into more and also stopped writing altogether. Which is no great loss to readers, because there is always someone somewhere writing something worth reading; most of the time it excludes weird side-rants about playing handball with Lord of the Rings characters.
But today I tripped and fell back on and started rolling along, slowly. It's like stumbling over a curb face-down onto a skateboard and lurching forward, injured: breasts smushed weirdly against the body, scraped arms out, shocked legs taut, the toes dragging behind. But somehow, forward momentum. Awkward forward momentum.
Rolling on, as if nothing had ever happened.