Thursday, March 22, 2012

Leaving the House

I leave the house for the first time. Or, more accurately, the house rots away from around me. The sun is blinding. My parents look young and happy in the sand. Or they look relieved. They are playing volleyball, just the two of them, and they are doing the opposite of what you would think good volleyball players should do, working together to keep the ball in the air. There is nothing special about them. By this I mean we spill out of their bodies, and then they don't take enough photographs, and then their bodies climb down a very tall ladder into a dark secret door just as they promised.

-Zachary Schomburg, Fjords vol. 1

Monday, March 19, 2012

" [...] For some reason watching this makes her so nervous that just out of television-watching habit she goes to the kitchen and makes herself a little drink, mostly ice cubes, just to keep sealed shut the great hole that is threatening to pull open inside of her again. She takes just a sip and it's like a swallow of a light that makes everything clear. She must just arch over this one little gap and at the end of the day after work Harry will be back and no one will ever know, no one will laugh at Mother. She feels like a rainbow arching protectively over Harry, who seems infinitely small under her, like some children's toy. She thinks how good it would be to play with Nelson; it is bad for him to watch television all morning. She turns it off and finds his coloring book and crayons and they sit on the rug and color opposite pages.

Janice repeatedly hugs him and talks to make him laugh and is very happy doing the actual coloring. In high school, art was the one subject she wasn't afraid of and she always got a B. She smiles in the delight of coloring her page, a barnyard, so well, of feeling the little rods of color in her fingers make such neat parallel strokes and her son's small body intent and hard beside hers. Her bathrobe fans out on the floor around her and her body seems beautiful and broad. She moves to get her shadow off the page and sees that she has colored one chicken partly green and not stayed within the lines at all well and her page is ugly; she starts to cry; it is so unfair, as if someone standing behind her without understanding a thing has told her her coloring is ugly. Nelson looks up and his quick face slides wide and he cries, "Don't! Don't, Mommy!" She prepares to have him pitch forward into her lap but instead he jumps up and runs with a lopsided almost crippled set of steps into the bedroom and falls on the floor kicking.

She pushes herself up from the floor with a calm smile and goes to the kitchen, where she thinks she left her drink. The important thing is to complete the arch to the end of the day, to be a protection for Harry, and it's silly not to have the one more sip that will make her capable."

John Updike, Rabbit, Run page 221-2

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost …. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter Two
 I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter Three
 I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
Chapter Four
 I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
Chapter Five
 I walk down another street.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Keep walking
Though there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances.
That's not for human beings.
Move within
but don't move
The way that fear makes you move.


"The Egg"

When Myrna first laid the egg we were both really excited. It was the color of butter, with freckles just like Myrna's freckles.

We took the normal goofy photos: Myrna holding the egg up in front of her belly and doing the "I-can't-believe-this-was-inside-me!" face, the egg wearing my A's hat. We felt really warm and proud. Plus it was way smoother and more beautiful than we'd imagined.

Those first couple nights, we'd lie in bed cuddling it between us and go back and forth between looking at each other and looking at the egg.

But then things started to get complicated. There were a million decisions to make, and what you decided was supposed to be some big sign of what kind of person you were. Like, to decorate the egg or not. And if so, would we do it funny, like with a mustache, in the spirit of the hat photos? Or would we do something sincere — Celtic knots or a flock of crows with clouds?

We went back and forth and got on each other's nerves. We finally landed on having our friends write messages, like you do on a cast.

All this was nothing compared to the incubation question though.

Like everybody, we took the first two weeks off to incubate together. But then would Myrna take the next two months off, and fall out of the loop on her big project? Or take the egg to work and freak out about the car ride? Would we each do half the incubating and worry about Swapout Syndrome from our different body temperatures? Which our more hippie friends said was just a lie to get us to pay the big bucks to put it in IncuCare. Was it true that kids come out autistic if they don't get natural warmth? You can hire a sitter of course, but it's hard not to feel weird about some immigrant lady who maybe you're oppressing in some weird way, sitting there in your house all day.

We started out talking calmly and lovingly about the incubation thing. But as the two weeks went by, we started to kind of joke-bicker about it, and pretty soon it was real bickering. We'd lean toward IncuCare and then I'd start to feel like a sellout. Then we'd lean toward Myrna doing all the sitting at home, but then she'd feel like a '50s housewife.

We finally decided she would take it to work. But she said her coworkers were smirking at her and the IncuChair made her legs look ugly. She hated leaving the egg zipped into the ThermoBag when she went to the bathroom, so she stopped drinking water and got awful headaches. In retrospect, I should have been better about it. But somehow the whole debate about what to do had left me feeling brittle and exhausted and so my sympathy sounded fake and my encouragement sounded patronizing.

Then yesterday I get a text from Myrna that just says "come home now" and I zip home from the office. When I get there, the egg's in the front hall in the ThermoBag, and a note from Myrna that just says "Sorry". I call her and call her but no answer.

So I've just been sitting here with the egg. I haven't called my work, just didn't go. I haven't called my family or anybody. I just sit here and stare between my legs at the egg and try not to think about Swapout Syndrome or cracks or the way Myrna looked at me when we first held this egg together.

"The Egg" by Jonathan Curley, posted by NPR during Round 7 of their October 2011 writing contest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love"

(all the merry little birds are
flying in the floating in the
very spirits singing in
are winging in the blossoming)

lovers go and lovers come
awandering awondering
but any two are perfectly
alone there's nobody else alive

(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes)

not a tree can count his leaves
each herself by opening
but shining who by thousands mean
only one amazing thing

(secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing)

"sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love"

life is more true than reason will deceive
(more secret or than madness did reveal)
deeper is life than lose: higher than have
-- but beauty is more each than living's all

multiplied with infinity sans if
the mightiest meditations of mankind
cancelled are by one merely opening leaf
(beyond whose nearness there is no beyond)

or does some littler bird than eyes can learn
look up to silence and completely sing?
futures are obsolete; pasts are unborn
(here less than nothing's more than everything)

death, as men call him, ends what they call men
--but beauty is more now than dying's when

e.e. cummings