Shortprose: Emily's Qualification
Every girl I went to High school with is either pregnant or married. They are in homeroom in alternating seats one, another, one- I have seen this at the symphony orchestra when you- you - come like altogether too early and the musicians aren't in queue for the show, have not taken their places at all, and the violin sits next to the cello, and then the Bass next to the viola, and that persists and then there's the oboe. I see these girls like a chorus of the grown out and the locked up. Our school mascot was the Heaving Frog.
I have a three-litre bottle of Chianti named after the word for 'brother' that looks like a fat overloaded heart. When I toss it into the air it falls like I am tossing a little infant and giving her her first cheap thrills. It corkscrews and twists back its head at the languid point of equilibrium, I bend my knees, catch it lower than from where I threw it. When it slaps against my cupped hands it whines and stings and then my boyfriend scribbles in whisper: 'Drop that, and we are both flooded in wine.' He may be correct: there is barely room for her me him and what is there left in front of us. I think of throwing my brother higher up and breaking his heart against the roof, and of the shower of drunk Italian glass as it hits against the dappled floor covered with our clothes.
Someone called Bubba was rumored to have two kids. When a rumor is born it is like the birth of nine hundred ninety nine children; or a number less than the potential number of transitions the first rumor may be expected to surpass.
The only Chinese restaurant in Iowa is called The Good Woman of Szechwan.
I ordered a bale of sweet and sour shrimp, but I unraveled the jackets of fry, hid the shrimp so I could have a plate of what was left; I hid that under my dress because when I get home I want to show you how tasty this state can be.
Everything I had in the past drunk I drank again: as I sip Chianti from the glass bulb, what were quantities of red is now a diminution driven to the fore by glassgreen void’s tint. "Now is after-the-fact," setting on its side the bottle to the floor, lingering overward as it sweeps back and forth. Pushand pull stainglass. After sucha puffedup striptease I sitdownandblow smokerings in a clogged slit net room of the ear. Allthere isis sound the throatmakes when it pukes up the ring: '. . .jug.' Jug. Guj. Gruje. Grudje. Grudge. That is what I have left after High school.
My father used to glue feathers to china plates and shoot them with his quail gun.
I have: A horse named Tex, a boyfriend I call Zeet, five fingers and an ear for the sound of innuendo, smatterings of dirt from hills and the dunes, the freckles that tell the story, specklings, pitter-patterings, splittings, spittings, chatterings, chitterings, smokerings. I saw it all at once: I see that you know I know that you are no fool.
The biggest lie in Iowa is that people worship Christ. They worship the God of the speedy frog of fast multiplication.
They worship the slash and the slit and the broken nose of the car.
You see, God hides in Iowa, not unfindable. I like my boyfriend: I have a lot of photographs of men with guns, who have been or are going hunting; I see them: two, three of them, their guns in hand, on the shoulder, pointed demandingly at the photographer- we have mounds of these sorts here. But my boyfriend is alone in his picture looking down the barrel of his gun- and it’s not the bullet he looks for. He looks down there with innocent eyes, inquisitive eyes for something else. It's the same: I have a white prayer cloth, about big enough to be cut into fours. I take my cigarette and poke a hole through it slowly. Then I lift it up to my eye and I say: '. . .that's how you go looking for God.'
My horse has only top teeth. I think at first that they point to the ground, but when I pull one of them it slips out like an arrowhead, its point pointing to the sky.
I finished my eggs and paid the Good Woman a silver dollar. It is tough, I thought. I’ll only have my eggs scrambled and at this restaurant they’re only served with the sunny side up. I tried to scramble them on my plate with my fork. When I was done it looked like a white continental drift dawdling in the yellow river. States can drift as well, I think. Then I drive to school in my little car amid the tractors. I was like a little boy again, considering men twice tall by what they sat on. Then I am there again: Marsha runs up to me! fat with her child. She is like a light bulb with exhausted filament clattering against her walls.
'He,' said Abe, 'was the kintd of guy who only got whod was given him.'
'Whadthever,' would say Abraham of the strange speech impediment, 'he really has no life.' But his l’s bent into other letters. So he didn’t have a wife either, I suppose.
Sooner or later everyone leaves New York and LA and goes nowhere to the vanishing point.
'I hate this city, I'll never leave.'
And yet, everything is as it should be. This is a learning that scares me mute.
My dad was desperately poor when he was young and so he has a one-tracked obsession with toys. My mom was desperately poor when she was young and she has a one-tracked obsession with boys. Because he was neglectful as a man, my dad bought a house for my mom’s birthday. He had it built as just a frame and her present was that she could madly discharge her decorative impulses in whatever direction she fancied. She painted the kitchen red-peach, and then red, and covered the entire ceiling with sea urchin corpses imported from Florida. My mom is limited to the kitchen so she makes it as pretty as she can, with high thresholds, bottles of nail clippings and pubic hair, automatic chairs that fetch her brain teasers to twiddle with, automatic eyes, a phone on which replicates the voices of our relatives and designs false, favorable conversations about important issues and an automatically revolving apothecary’s mortar and pestle; all of the necessities of a modern life for a modern wife. My father is less concerned with the things that come natural to her.
He prefers his special chimney with the three brick levels knocked out which yield the expansive view of the gray ocean, his minutely timed steam releaser, and the cage of rabbits he keeps in what he calls his 'little midget closet.' He loves to watch baseball and episodes of a late show called Midnight Serenity Come Hither Spoon for Jesus. He loves these so much, he falls asleep watching as if they were the raw material of some higher power’s dream life, come delivered by transmitter. The mother sleeps in the kitchen by default. I watch the bed they purchased when we moved in as if waiting to see it decompose from atrophy, like the dust floating through the air evading my spinning hands.
My boyfriend's monologue to my cunt: I mean that I write fictitious letters to the real.
One day I will tell you the story of the man who was so attracted to himself that in seeing mirrors or car windows, simple trips to brush his teeth or get the paper became unspeakable orgies of self-attenuation; and about his wife who had a week’s vacation from her job as an upholsterer of couches and spent it searching for her clitoris.
Did I ever tell you the fable of the catholic hole, the scratched hands, the plummeting prepubescent, and the orchestra of recliners below? Yeah, it was adapted several years ago from a dream I had had but hadn't yet had.
I am told my mother suffered empty nest syndrome when I left and my father built an aviary under our lawn for the nine birds we have.
“I owe what.”
I am the mode of production. Outside and through the night my tongue brushes over frozen blackberries. I have been writing letters to the fictitious for a few years now, and my life gets better and better. I to walk at night, to find scraps of letter being mishandled oh my the wind. I to negotiate. I have saved the hostage, note that in the letter: I have saved the ho stage. I have binocular vision, fibromatosis. I see in your window through the shade and I sleep under hush trees when I walk the sunlit path to your house. In your window there are bricks and bricks build a factory. A factory runs all night and in the cold billowing fuselage of pure ice white repeating co-opted smoke drifts up plaintively. You cannot choose a spot in smoke and watch it develop. In my letter I ask if the cotton smoke is continuously replenished and subducted, or if one cloud drifts up thickly at sunset and sits static for the rest of the year. Who sits and interrogated smoke clouds? Not me. My occupation (I have a number of minute scars on the right first, right second, and fourth fingers) is to mail clouds to every other state and negotiate for their return when the sun sets. If you look up and can see your children’s faces without the foolish blindness of a sunspot distorting their expression, I have done that for you. All clouds come from Iowa.