Tag Archives: summer

When the toxic heat of summer irradiates the sky, violating our lewd and turgid flesh and turning each crevice into a squalid pit of filth and discomfort that lies desperately chafed along the airy edge of freedom, there can be but one respite to its endless cosmic pain:

Goldbond.

Girls in Sundresses

Olive skin absorbs the sun,
reflects it with a glow that

resonates off floral covers,
the kind that hide the prize

that gets exposed in later days
when that fleshy luminosity

becomes so overwrought,
exploited, and unappreciated.

When at the season’s dusk
the eyes grow weary of their

sight, longing instead for the
thrill of a still-covered breast

with half-revealed legs that
tease the summers’ sex and

the shattering of autumns still to come.

62 Prospect

scrubbing off nail polish
when he walks in
his voice is static, paper thin
his seduction is transparent-

summer nights are fans
and that sticky place behind my knees
I discover after I sit a while.
The bead of unearned sweat slides between the blades
of my
shoulders,
tracing spine

What Comes Out When the Sun Does

His hair is gray; he is older. The way he speaks suggests that he is, in addition, wiser. His tone threatens to teach me a lesson. I transition from humoring him to reading my book, rereading the first page of the third story several times. I try to decide if I am young and impenetrable and stubborn. I think he is just overstepping his boundaries; he is the worst kind of cynical, unaware and feigning joy.

Eventually I outright ignore him, give him more fodder for hating my generation. He tells me that his bike was stolen, that he’s written a letter to the culprit to be published in the local paper. In the letter he dares the thief to come to his home. After he is certain I am aware of his bravery, he informs me of his quiet and observant side. His neighbor’s an interesting guy who has stolen one of his library books; he sighs and tells me he keeps his distance from transients. Too many people in and out of his life; he’s been hurt, he’s damaged, I assume this is how I’m supposed to interpret it.

I am patient, as I’ve been taught to be. I try again to engage him; discuss the stories I’ve just read with him. I watch him, waiting to speak, and give in. I pause, allow for his interruption. When he announces the death of letter writing, accuses the rest of the world for letting it die, I don’t have it in me to argue. I file him under things not to become, push my fingertip against my arm to see if I’m burning.

What She’s Done, What She’s Left to Do

When she was much younger, Dana wanted to be an actress. Rather, she wanted to be famous first, an actress second. She’d wanted to be known around town as something other than the girl who used up all the machines at the laundromat with her little brothers’ Spiderman underwear and her grandpa’s pants soiled with God-knows-what. Something other than the movie theater girl whose fingers always felt slightly greasy no matter how many times she washed, who often had popcorn in her hair from snacking while the movies played. She shook those connotations for the first time when she married Conor Philips, the UGA grad who started teaching at the high school the year she graduated. They married in the summer after she walked across the field in a purple gown with gold tassels. Everyone knew what that meant – that a student and a teacher had been romantic while one was a student and one was a teacher – but to admit that that happened between people with a forgivable age gap would be admitting it happened between others, and those were cans that remained closed unless pried open.

The second time she shook those connotations was almost a year later when she baked her first-born in the backseat of her Honda Civic parked in front of the Winn Dixie. She’d forgotten he was back there, the way she sometimes forgot to cut her nails before leaving the house or forgot the milk at the grocery store that she’d specifically gone to get. She’d forgotten the milk that particular day, not remembering until she’d made it to the threshold of the store, where the blasting air conditioner met the hot air from outside creating a palpable barrier, like the place that feels like a moment where a rainstorm begins and ends. She’d turned back around, muttering some obscenity and rolling her eyes at herself as the cashier who’d just rung her up swiped the perspiring gallon across the sticky checkout counter.

Later, in the parking lot, sitting indian style on the hot asphalt amidst the sharp sounds of the ambulances and the cops shouting – what had they shouted at her? – she didn’t allow herself to calculate the time she’d spent backtracking to the refrigerated aisle for the milk, the seconds spent deciding between the 2% milk her husband preferred and the fat free which she felt she needed after having Ben, God rest his soul. The time – the critical minutes, the doctors said – that she could’ve reversed the damage the sun had done. She tried not to picture the blisters, the open mouth, the sweat that at first she thought were tears. Of all of the horrible things she’d feared would befall her son, she’d never seen this one coming. This was not a broken heart, a college rejection letter, a broken limb.

Conor came from school; his hair was mussed and he was crying. She had not called him, had not been the one to accuse herself to him, and she was surprised to see his red Ford pull into the parking lot. She watched as the cops tried to turn him around, realizing too late that he was the father, that he was allowed to witness the rolling away of his son. They waved him through, and even in his hurry he pulled the truck perfectly into a spot. He didn’t see Dana at first and she sat watching him. Since that first day when she realized the crush she’d developed on her younger brother’s English teacher was reciprocated, she had always seen Conor as someone older, someone in charge of her, as though she’d simply passed between babysitters. With the overlap, she’d never felt the lull between finishing school and starting everything else. That afternoon was the first time she felt the significant emptiness of something ending. She watched Conor punch the side of her car. She saw in his face that this was not something he was prepared to overcome; they would not band together. She picked at the edge of her tennis shoe and knew her husband would leave her.

Her trial fell a week after Conor packed up a suitcase and headed to Memphis to his parents’ house. He couldn’t drive around on those streets anymore he’d said. She had pretended to understand, pretended that the world was not tilted slightly since what happened, that she couldn’t look at things straight anymore for fear she’d lose her balance. She was in a constant state of motion sickness.

The night he left, she walked into her parents’ bedroom – the judge had ordered her under house arrest with constant supervision until the trial. She stood in their doorway, a familiar stance she’d taken many times as a child. Her father was asleep; her mother, still up, was reading an old Reader’s Digest and moved over to make room for Dana to lay. Her mother held her and did not say anything. All she’d had to do was keep her son alive and now all she had left to do were so many other things that were easier.

Leaving Elias’ House

His dad stood on the back of the pickup. His sleeves rolled up, his hair matted with sweat, Maynard thought, “This is how I’ll always remember him.” Of course that wasn’t true, the way many things we think aren’t true for long, if they ever were. Maynard will remember his father the way he will look at 63, lying in a hospital bed looking thinner than he had since he’d graduated college. Maynard will see that man in that hospital bed in his own face when the skin begins to sag and gather around the edges of things like a bed slept in. But the day they moved grandma out of her and Pawpaw’s house, he saw his dad standing on the back of PawPaw’s red Ford and thought he looked completed, as though every moment in his dad’s life had been forming the man he was right then and the years to come would only erode and chip at his surface.

Grandma sat on her porch while they moved her things out of the house. She seemed to be remembering each brick that outlined the edge of the porch as though she’d lain them herself. She was moving to the Ever Glades Maturity Center, an awful, ridiculous name, but the nicest they could afford. The Center’s porch–she’d noted–looked like it’d been constructed out of thick plastic meant for the siding of a house or a playground for accident prone kids. She’d have to share the space with God knows how many others. It’d be a main attraction, a thing to do rather than the rest stop between her garden and her home. Maynard banged out of the side door with her bedside table, using the feet of the thing to force the screen door open. She moved from the bench to the concrete floor of the porch. The burn of the hot concrete through her cotton dress–she’d begun wearing big, shapeless cotton dresses after Elias died–reminded her of sitting by the pool as a kid, her mother’s voice from inside the house asking what flavor of popsicle everyone wanted. She reached her hand over the edge of the porch as if to touch the water, closed her eyes and felt the sun on her skin, focusing on the bead of sweat making its way down her back.

“What’s grandma doing?” Maynard asked his father. They leaned against the truck like some black and white photo.

Maynard’s father used his sleeve to catch the sweat before it reached his eyes. “What do you mean? She’s just sitting there.”

“Yeah, but I mean, what’s she doing with her hand?” Maynard knew he should let it drop, but he felt like he and his dad were on even planes right then, doing the same amount of work, both watching the end of something they had thought would always exist.

“Well, she sure ain’t bringing that old dining table out to the side of the street, so maybe we should get on it.”

Maynard nodded, kept himself from saying, “Yes, sir.”

They didn’t say much the rest of the afternoon, even when Maynard broke a vase and cut his finger. He stuck the finger in his mouth and tore a piece of his shirt off to tie around it when the bleeding didn’t stop. All the bathroom stuff had already been packed and moved out. The house had been rented out, and they had asked if some of the old furniture could be left in the house for their use. They were recent college grads who couldn’t afford things like the island in the kitchen or queen-sized bed in the master bedroom. Maynard’s father was hesitant to rent the house that he grew up in to kids not much younger than his son, who he didn’t seem to trust, but Maynard had convinced him it’d be cheaper to store the old furniture in the house rather than in a storage unit. Throwing it away hadn’t been an option.

They sidestepped the old woman, still pretending to run her hands through the cold blue water. Her upper lip was beaded with sweat and her hairline clung to her skin, but she didn’t seem to notice. Maynard set his glass of water next to her, just in case. After he walked away, she stuck her fingers in it and ran them over her face.

I’m working on a lot of things right now, specifically a collection of stories, so if something feels unfinished, it probably is. Don’t judge me. See you next week!

Requiem for a Chinchilla

Dustbath “Pedey” Pedroia was discovered at the bottom of her cage at approximately 7:00pm on Thursday, June 24. While the average domestic chinchilla lives for up to 15 years, Pedey died at the tender age of 3ish from apparent health complications incurred by a sudden heatstroke. While it is true that chinchillas are indigenous to South America, their natural habitat tends to be amongst the rocks and caves of the Andes mountains, where their lack of sweat glands and their incredibly dense fur protect them from the other elements — great for a Boston winter, but not for a Boston summer such as this one.

Prior to the heatstroke, Pedey was in just as good of health as any other household chinchilla. She lived with her younger sister, Yubnub, who survives her today and is decidedly less fat and black. In life, Pedey enjoyed raisins, pooping a lot, and sleeping. Despite her negative attitude towards her owners and occasional incestuous lesbian tendencies, Pedey was much loved in her home, where she could often be found watching LOST while trying to chew her way through her cage. Yubnub fondly recalls every time that a famished Pedey would sit in the food bowl for hours on end, eating and defecating simultaneously, and rarely differentiating between her food pellets and her feces. (Like any good sister, Yubnub would patiently wait her turn and let her older sister gorge on Timothy Hay and Alfalfa, often being rewarded with an extra raisin as a result) When not hogging the food, or attempting to bite the hands of her owners, Pedey could often be found cuddling with Yubnub in the corner, and generally looking cute and silly like chinchillas are wont to do.

She will especially be remember for her her little T-rex-like chinchilla hands. Pedey enjoyed standing up straight and placing her hands on the bars of her cage, much like a human prison inmate. It was quite precious.

A small graveside service was held in the backyard on the afternoon of June 25. Pedey was laid to rest in the garden of the home where she once lived, and hopefully, her spirit will nourish the plantlife that grows there. Just to be sure, she was buried with a package of her favorite craisins as incentive.

In her honor, Dustin Pedroia, second baseman for the Boston Red Sox and Pedey’s namesake, hit 3 homeruns on the night of her death, leading the Red Sox to a 13-11 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Raisins to raisins, dustbath to dustbath. Rest in peace, Pedey.

Please send grievances in the form of raisins.