INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Beauty always seems just out of reach. Its delicate hand
gestures over an unseen face, or else helps avert that same face at the
precise moment it might be seen.
Maybe it's a deer sliding whole from a deep hedge through
morning fog, maybe a fragment from a Mendelsohn sonata torn from a
closing window of night's silence, or maybe it's a stone barely balanced
atop another stone with the awkward kiss of their shadows in full
You're unsure if you belong here on earth. How many times
you've felt unwelcome, had nowhere to go, nowhere to sleep, nowhere to
shit. There were no warm arms around you then. The day you
discovered no one loved you, freed you.
It was also the day someone began destroying your life. You
remember your fingerprints were dusted off a yellow-spotted beetle's
back and then found placed around the slashed jugulars of mountain
gorillas. Learning to say no earned you this.
Even as you slept, others pried open your windows, slipping
in anti-you leaflets peeled clean from the unspoken tongues of spruce
In this forest, deeper than computer animation can
narcoticize the big screen of our restrained imaginations, you go it alone
without knowing you're never who you are.
You live within this opening. Lately, the hands you spread
apart to widen it's resistant pressure, no longer seem to be your hands.
At least, you don't recognize them as your hands. At times, they seem
larger, more cumbersome, incapable of getting a firm grip on anything.
Their thicker fingers lack flexibility and this opening, without noticing it's
inching in around their swollen knuckles.
It's not altogether different, of course, if they come tightly
gloved, daintily frilled, or subtly cologned trying to push off with their
thumbs and pinkies. They still cannot keep the opening ajar. It's unusual
that you're deep inside this aperture unaware it's closing in on you.
Warnings have always reached you before...
You've lived believing you could go back and forth without it
ever closing, but no longer. You've noticed the opening lacks a rim, is
missing its edge, its handle, its slot, its tab, seam, turn-key, knob, latch,
or grip to keep it from closing any tighter. On both sides of where it was,
is now darkness. The difference between the two is an unknown since
only one can exist.
Where you used to live in view of this opening, assured by its
certainty, you now not only smell what used to be your hands but also
this darkness up ahead in whose silhouette your full head of tears is so
uncontrollably hard to hold.
We get a late start. Roads lined with paraders and pick-up
trucks packed to the brim with ribbon winners imbue the celebration's
atmosphere. Fireworks have been smuggled over state lines, while
clowns bussed in from every county fair peopling the midwest rest in
spacious tents with promotional executives, carny bosses and poultry
judges. When we finally merge with the growing crowd, we get separated
and each of us wanders alone through tractor exhibits, combine races,
sheep sheering, hog saddling, goat milking, pink and pale blue dyed
rabbits, food concessions limited to pale cheese curds, slathered turkey
drumsticks, bubbling sweet potato pies with marshmallow toppings,
crispy salted and garlic smeared fried dough, succulent pig roasts,
steamy hot sausage and pepper sandwiches, vegetable quiches, steak-on-
a-stick, ice cream cones, carbonated and alcoholic drinks galore, and
giggling bikini topped teenage girls begging for donations to fund their
senior class prom based on a white water mystique theme of rushing
down Colorado River. You look everywhere for us, even at the designated
spot we agreed upon near the curly fry stand in close proximity to a
midway of upside-down rides and sewage streams floating cigarette
butts, black tissues, and candy bar wrappers through an already clogged
drainage grate. After waiting too long, you begin unwrapping your sticky
and sweat-drenched hair from the blown hot-air bowl of a cotton candy
maker. You put the eyes of wolves you loved having in place of your own
eyes back on the fronts of day-glow t-shirts won by racing plastic ducks
with the limited aim of a water pistol. The late afternoon sedation of
babies crying against their mother's damp breast becomes muffled by
back-up alarms, golf carts, and carhorns. Traffic's choked with dust.
Behind each open bus window, the maxed-out bladders of adolescents
shine their faces with those crystalline tears of too much sugar.
Paul B. Roth, Fayetteville, New York
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