Spring/Summer 1994, Volume 11.2
I always helped myself to more than I could eat.
Gets it from his grandpa, they said, Whose eye was
bigger than his belly. Hearing that, I'd draw away
in school, huge eyes where the body usually is, on
those paper bags we made into Halloween masks. Put
mine on, even the teacher seemed scared. Now that
I weigh 400, there's nowhere else to look but at
my midst. My eyes have all but disappeared. It's
my theory they shape themselves into becoming soul.
Anyway, no other human being can do much to you at
this point, though when Aunt Clara's beads dropped
into my plate at dinner, I know everyone thought, He
might try those for eyes. As if that weren't enough,
my troubles with noise began as wellcrazy old organs
started up in my head. I had to wear cotton all day long.
Nights weren't much better, and people came by in whispers.
I've taken to the back bedroom to avoid most guests now.
Ten pairs of eyeglasses, a dozen ear trumpets wouldn't
make a difference. I can say I like those best who look
away now and then when they mosey back with some flowers.
Full of zest for sight and sound, they take a multitude
of pleasant ears and eyes with them when I drop off to sleep.
Cats and Dogs, which Swift said
was a clichZ in 1738, so it may
be time to seek a newer phrase.
I propose "blue beans," from German,
via Grimm's Jack and the Beanstalk
picked up later by Franz Marc, who
converted it to blue horses when
the beans didn't take. I don't
hold it against him. He did it
for our sakethe world was tired
of beans by then in any shape or
color. No jobs, not much amusement,
everybody had time to watch it rain.
When I was born, it rained all
the time I'm told. Mother's bag
of waters broke and my head slipped
out. I had one foot in the furnished
room when I was pulled so hard I
landed in a highchair. Ever since,
I've been playing lifeguard,
watching over Sherman's Beach,
thinking all the water's mine.
All last week, I played by myself,
threw and threw the old tennis ball
but nothing happened. I studied the
house, the right angle and all and
let it fly again. Why continue, I
thought, but then my dog brought
the ball back. I got angry because
he wouldn't give it up. You're tired,
he said, Get some rest so you can
throw it farther than I can find it.
I was embarrassed, needed a scolding.
But one last thing, if I throw it once
more, will you catch it on the other
side? I have to know this time, Annie.
Last year's favoritethe one we couldn't ride
more than once an afternoon, for the long lines, but
this year everyone's lined up for the Magnum XL-200,
world's tallest, fastest coaster, so we keep running
back down the steps to board the Dragon again. This
is our nineteenth time around, we're nicely addicted,
check each other's harness casually, sure it won't
lift back up, tuck our legs under the hood, close
eyes for the flight the mind loves if the other senses
are secure. One thing you notice is how the appetite
decreases, perhaps because we can only swallow small
amounts of air, and I find my strength abating too,
I couldn't even hang on tight if I wanted to. When
night falls, they add smoke, which issues from each
car's nose. We're ready to cheat life of its triumph,
face what's next, even though it's not serious this time.
for Anne Finch, Countess of Chilsea
Black, with white spots, but sometimes
given how it moves you could think
the opposite, assume it's poisonous
as well, but you'd be dead wrong.
What I like about them best is how
they'll refuse to move, as though
weighted with lead, unless you
whistle an old tune. Then they'll
show you their back, dusty with
flour, and a big slit of a smile
on their way into a narrow, dark
crevice as chilly as your cellar.
Nothing looks more foolish than
the way you stand there then,
motionless at the hole, struggling
to recall what you've forgotten.
There's a last whisper in the air
that you're missing something,
something to do with the tune,
and the snake moved for all
it was worth: toward
the fluent vein
to our own....
Her father has now gone to be wit
upied aisle-seat beside him. Soon after ta