Archive for May, 2016

i’m full of joy, actually

May 16, 2016

Le Billet. 1883. Auguste Toulmouche(auguste toulmouche)

At my father’s I slept in Chinese silk pajamas and at my mother’s I alternated between two of her old baggy shirts. One was a loose brown shirt, nearly knee-length, with a doodle of a happy woman on it and the words above her reading “Man cannot live on chocolate alone,” and below, “but woman can.” The chocolate shirt was easily my favorite because it justified eating chocolate. Not that I needed much of an excuse; my mother encouraged splitting half a bar of dark chocolate with almonds after dinner and on more than one occasion she would look away as I made myself a chocolate milkshake with breakfast. “It has milk and calcium in it,” I’d say, scooping more ice cream into the blender. The second shirt had an illustration of a duck wearing green tweed and smoking a cigarette with the phrase “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” spelled in smoke. The shirt itself and the image of the smoking duck is what returns to me like a sober guardian angel when I am restless or unable to sleep. Get your bloody act together, the duck says to me in a highfalutin British accent, blowing a cloud of smoke in my face as I stuff a third bonbon in my mouth. You don’t need chocolate or a man. So what do I need? Then the duck, in my under or overslept mind, transforms into my mother, smoking her fifteenth cigarette of the day, placing before me a breaded piece of poultry, asking “Do you want me to cut into little pieces?” And as she does I try to spell my name in ketchup on the side of my plate but at the end it just looks like a stick figure of a fat man, blubby, bloody, both happy and alone.

Léon De Smet (Belgian, 1881-1966), Nature morte, 1925 (leon de smet)Balcony, Edward Burra, c.1928–9 (edward burra)

rainy tuesday

May 3, 2016

olaya_barr_19

When I was a child.

In the pool I thought of a story I heard about babies born in water, about babies swimming right after birth, about mothers with inflatable pools in their living rooms pushing and heaving and out comes a child. And that’s how life happened.
In the pool I slithered and slimed and kissed and felt all the verbs that are wet.
In the pool I thought of what old people looked like when they were young, when there weren’t veins protruding on legs and arms and tummies and feet.
In the sea I saw testicles for the first time. An old man’s: like plums wrapped in old ham. A young boy’s: puckered plums.
In the sea I made meatballs out of mud, I made chicken cutlets and breaded them with sand.
In the sea I stuffed my fingers in anemones.
In the sea I thought I could talk to dolphins and when I’d spot one in the distance I knew she was coming for me. I could never swim that far out.
In the sea I sang to myself. I never scraped my palms on rocks.
In the river, ankle deep, I thought I saw ice-cubes floating.
In the river I’d try to catch fish, and talk to them, too. Come, salmon, salmon, come, salmon, salmon. Why, salmon salmon, would you want me to catch you only to then salmon salmon you up in the air, wave you around in the oxygen, toss you up as high as I could only to watch you fall smack down, belly flop, back into your river home? So that you could see the trees and hear the woodpecker and see what a human’s brown eyes look like.
In the river I peed behind a big smooth rock.
In the lake I knew there were sea monsters.
In the lake my foot tangled with seaweed and I yelped for help, for mercy, for angels.
In the lake I realized there were a few things I was wrong about, but there were a couple things I knew that made me wise.
That’s when the rain came.

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