This morning, Ray Bradbury is dead and there is only soy milk at my coffee shop. I do not know which to be more sad about, that my body and I are suddenly uncomfortable or that a man I have never met, far away, has stopped breathing.
“I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart”—June Jordan, “Poem About My Rights"
She twirls it in her left hand, a small red merry-go-round.
According to the white oval sticker, she holds apple #4016. I’ve read in some book or other of four thousand fifteen fruits she held before this one, each equally dizzied by the heat in the tips of her fingers.
She twists the stem, pulls it like the pin of a grenade, and I just know somewhere someone is sitting alone on a porch, bruised, opened up to their wet white ribs, riddled by her teeth— lucky.
With her right hand, she lifts the sticker from the skin. Now, the apple is more naked than any apple has been since two bodies first touched the leaves of ache in the garden.
Maybe her apple is Macintosh, maybe Red Delicious. I only know it is the color of something I dreamt, some thing I gave to her after being away for ten thousand nights.
The apple pulses like a red bird in her hand— she is setting the red bird free, but the red bird will not go, so she pulls it to her face as if to tell it a secret. She bites, cleaving away a red wing. The red bird sings. Yes, she bites the apple and there is music— a branch breaking, a ship undone by the shore, a knife making love to a wound, the sweet scrape of a match lighting the lamp of her mouth.
This blue world has never needed a woman to eat an apple so badly, to destroy an apple, to make the apple bone— and she does it.
I watch her eat the apple, carve it to the core, and set it, wobbling, on the table— a broken bell I beg to wrap my red skin around until there is no apple, there is only this woman who is a city of apples, there is only me licking the juice from the streets of her palm.
If there is a god of fruit or things devoured, and this is all it takes to be beautiful, then God, please, let her eat another apple tomorrow
Jenny wasn’t back in time for lights out. Our counselors went searching for her, assuming she left her lips inside a boy’s bunk. Instead, they found her running around the track, sharpening her hip bones. Us girls all angry for not thinking of it first.
Every week after weigh-ins, I would console my best friend, an 86-pound teenager, Mallory, by holding up a slab of meat, swearing This is what a pound looks like. If you only lost .8 of that this week, it’s still a lot off your body.
No one sent me here. I chose to spend five summer birthdays making myself smaller. Every August, instead of a cake, the dining hall sang to me as I wished on an apple with a candle in it.
II. ALICE LEAVES WONDERLAND TO ATTEND HER FIRST OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS MEETING
Hi my name is Alice, and I am an overeater. All food says, “Eat Me.” Sometimes I am so big that my arms and legs shoot out the windows, I ruin the house. I want to eat the thing that makes me small enough to slip through the keyhole. I want the flowers, for a moment, to mistake me for one of them.
III. FIFTH GRADE REPORT CARD
I got straight A’s. It was the first year they recorded our height and weight next to our grades. I knew what mattered then. Knew I was failing.
In the class photo, I stuck a pushpin through my own face.
What Lot's Wife Would Have Said if She Weren't a Pillar of Salt, by Karen Finneyfrock
Do you remember when we met in Gomorrah? When you were still beardless, and I would oil my hair in the lamp light before seeing you, when we were young, and blushed with youth like bruised fruit. Did we care then what our neighbors did in the dark?
When our first daughter was born on the River Jordan, when our second cracked her pink head from my body like a promise, did we worry what our friends might be doing with their tongues?
What new crevices they found to lick love into or strange flesh to push pleasure from, when we called them Sodomites then, all we meant by it was neighbor.
When the angels told us to run from the city, I went with you, but even the angels knew that women always look back. Let me describe for you, Lot, what your city looked like burning since you never turned around to see it.
Sulfur ran its sticky fingers over the skin of our countrymen. It smelled like burning hair and rancid eggs. I watched as our friends pulled chunks of brimstone from their faces. Is any form of loving this indecent?
Cover your eyes tight, husband, until you see stars, convince yourself you are looking at Heaven.
Because any man weak enough to hide his eyes while his neighbors are punished for the way they love deserves a vengeful god.
I would say these things to you now, Lot, but an ocean has dried itself on my tongue. So instead I will stand here, while my body blows itself grain by grain back over the Land of Canaan. I will stand here and I will watch you run.
My books are edged violet, wine baptized them beautiful Pages stuck together, tongue to my frozen spine mid-winter And I am not angry, I am lonely, quiet Yesterday we laughed so hard the aisle shook in the Dollar Store, We felt so light for a moment, Free of our own unraveling, I tossed and turned last night dreaming of you, Of death, Of the way things splay me open for auction, Revealing everything I have done damn well hiding, I shivered without you, Wearing my white Rebels t-shirt, brand new pair of white cotton panties You would have said I looked sexy this morning, Spent my half-asleep in between alarm bells turning fingers into Algebra, All I could think about was your laugh, that smile The way your skin felt so warm against me, I dreamt of you, Of death, When I woke up this morning without you, I hoped so hard that I had finally become a ghost.
This morning I am watching you sleep with your arm curled around your mouth. You open your eyes, squinty, & then close them. But not before I sneak inside & live there. I build a city inside the look you gave me & live there alone with my lover & thousands of trees, all of whom we elect mayor. We are loyal assistants to this administration of this city of your gaze & trees & we are making such great strides in municipal policy. The trees-mayor passes a law to move all the lawns together & strip all the buildings down to just roofs for watching the sky. I keep opening books, hoping they’ll be about you. & sometimes they almost are, just like this early time of day before everybody wakes up & I’m wandering the house like a cat in a room.
are married. You know this. You were at their wedding. What they say should land as if your dad said it, or your brother. None of it means harm: the way you look in a pair of jeans, how long your lipstick lasts, how good the oysters are, how fresh. Married men are the lead characters in the movie of their marriage. They share top billing, but have earned their solo screen time. I mean how else do you really get to know them, they say, if you don’t see how they are without their wives? The long curve of their arms, or calves, where their hands rest: on hips, or elbows, on waists. Married men lean forward when they smile, and lean back when they laugh. After the party, they roam the kitchen, offer to share with you a plate of re-heated hors d’oevres. You see it: the still life of some other woman’s man, barefoot and drunk, hungry and alone. The cat hisses at him. It’s his wife’s cat. It hates him, and for the life of him, he can’t figure out why.
“I have been saving up my hope
in language, in a spoken name, a written name;
I had given a name to everything,
and you have taken the place
of all these names.”—Juan Ramón Jiménez, “The Name Drawn from the Names,” translated by Robert Bly (via nps2013)
“Lord she’s gone done left me done packed / up and split
and I with no way to make her
come back and everywhere the world is bare
bright bone white crystal sand glistens
dope death dead dying and jiving drove
her away made her take her laughter and her smiles
and her softness and her midnight sighs -
Fuck Coltrane and music and clouds drifting in the sky
fuck the sea and trees and the sky and birds
and alligators and all the animals that roam the earth
fuck marx and mao fuck fidel and nkrumah and
democracy and communism fuck smack and pot
and red ripe tomatoes fuck joseph fuck mary fuck
god jesus and all the disciples fuck fanon nixon
and malcolm fuck the revolution fuck freedom fuck
the whole muthafucking thing
all i want now is my woman back
so my soul can sing”—Etheridge Knight, Feeling Fucked Up. (via charliebronsons)