and now the sky looks like the kind of sky you like.
He scatters some, goes daily with a rubber skin once used to water camels. Waits for them to sprout, remembers soft muzzles against his hand. (Sometimes his neck.)
but had to be peach or nectarine. Dropped from a grocery bag? A child’s hand? Someone always feels dropped from the circle. Left off the necklace. A stone alone.
That dollop of yellow-and-red caught my eye. I bent low, turned like a microscope to bring it into focus: a bird’s head, smaller than my thumb nail. Yellow fluff with a pink beak and the tiniest bit of chartreuse hanging from its throat. The red? Where some animal had severed it from the rest of its body. * Later, it took nine bees twenty minutes to empty out a dead mouse.
Throw me against the sky! Crack me on the water!
There are different words for bottle gourds, cut from one tree, depending on shape and the style of their cutting. Ground clam shells add necessary calcium to a deficient diet. (Pour some into the pancake mix.) Forget to drink your memory tonic? Not unusual. * What is it you long to catch in your net?
They were trying to remember the name of a fish. Bream came to mind, not that I know what one looks like. That’s it! Yuval, which means tributary, said: It was your unconscious. No doubt. * (Always seeking first causes, just-so stories. My hands are empty, my pockets and drawers.)
City lights obliterate the pinprick’s immensity. He goes to the country to look at the stars, takes Rudolph, the dog, who otherwise flops at his heels, or walks, mostly at his side, mostly not tugging.
The wood on this small chest is cracked. Does that increase its value? I like the fault line, its impending brokenness. Things should never even look forever.
What she did with the plastic card? Cut it into very sharp bits, scattered them on his side of the bed. In the morning, lettered plastic on his left cheek. Not hairless, but generally smooth—he always faced away. He, not she, had bought the pillows, the bedding, the bed. And then she’d made it.
Is it true that bones left in the fish keep it moist? They say that boats on the water precede history. Look, now. Three, leaving harbor in the dark. Just a waxing crescent, not a breath of wind.
those fields, chopped down. The green of that grass in afternoon shadow. I lived it, I think. I can be there again as if I did. (Dreamt or lived, either way, it happened thirty years ago.) A cool green crossroads.
colors the rock face beige with dark indentations, the largest one (out my window) filled with reddish earth. A cypress rises above—green flat against the blue. The thing you could miss: a tiny lavender cyclamen.
This still-warm animal. Blood drips. How to carve her up? Each day, you breathe deeply, sharpening your knives.
I flew the blue reaches. * Sometimes the light (can’t bear to go on) * To want nothing but what one has. To want nothing but.
What carpet divides us? How different her air?
The woman at the neighborhood pharmacy, for instance, who listens carefully, then takes you to the back of the store, retrieves small colored boxes from shelves, first one, explaining, then another. She is thin and kind, not boisterous, and serious.
You live in a kind of feeble dailiness, or you live in a moment stretched fascinating against its blind end. You live in the stretch. You live inside, one with the danger of inevitable snap.
How could you be lonely here? Open the window—a bee buzzes in!
struggling with heavy loads, one a box too large for one person, the other a stroller, heavy and newfangled. The blond toddler at the top of the stairs waits as she says, jeez, jeez over and over, and the sun not yet over the hill.
Have you ever gone ahead and just used the flour, bugs and all, when the recipe called for that single cup? And no one got sick, right?
Was that a woman’s high voice approaching hysteria or some animal? Open your eyes, keep your lips tight.
Sadness lifted the everyday veil and each small thing became so beautiful that I cried all over again. a cloth napkin, a blue sponge, running water colored silver by the sink * almost July
Where have all the bookworms gone? (replaced by sleek silverfish) * Cedar oil can help keep away bookborers, but the best way to preserve a book is by turning its pages.
couldn’t press the black clip hard enough to clamp the pages. Was that her hand?
Today would have been her birthday. I notice that even lying down, dogs wag their tails.
Of course any self-respecting person with Lou Gehrig’s disease would buy a gun. Even—his best friend would suggest it. And think of how the love for his friend would overcome him, so that he would stop and think again about the necessity of buying the gun. And then he would.
You should adopt a pigeon. I say: Why would I want to rent a flying rat? * If my favorite color just became purple, does that make me a lesbian? * Healing, nurses heal (themselves).
When their birthdays come round, you feel so sad for them, not here to celebrate. You need the day to refer to something other than itself: these trees, for instance, sun drenched green with nut-brown cones. They take your breath, they mark the wind.
One of those days more wisely spent in church. Seeking sanctity. (sanctuary) * That red-haired boy watching (red) carp. I offered him paper that melts on the tongue.
a garbage truck or two very fast cyclists? (Walk your way into a story with a question?)
I used to cast a line seeking fish or seaweed—I knew what I was looking for. At least, I knew that I was standing on a shore. Now, I simply cast—myself. A line.
If things keep growing this way, next year there will be no chinks, no holes, nothing but the pattern made by the sun, blocked by the roof of the house, against ubiquitous green.
Organisms living in pockets of salty liquid may go dormant when it freezes. They bloom quickly then go back to sleep. Are you a quick-blooming organism? Sleepy?
there’s nothing you wouldn’t sell. The tactic stirs you. Descend, naked.
He’s someone I once knew and passing him on the street, someone I would always recognize. But if I were to launch a small rowboat on the lake of his mind (locked within skin), would I know my way round? Maybe so. Maybe the appurtenances of a life are obvious and recognizable no matter how sparse the light illuminating one’s skiff on the lake of another.
That watch expensive as three cars or a house? Put it on the street. Leave it for a pauper.
My head, symmetrical silver scales. A silver armadillo, passing the time with a white cup of something light brown. Armadillos don’t drink coffee.
The things you can do these days. (Still minimized by the things you can’t.)
From one angle, the ferret looked harmless and beautiful, like a piece of mink stole—but along an asphalt road, not a lady’s neck. Going close, against the wind, I saw the strand of blood from its mouth and many rows of ferocious teeth. The ferret was ugly. Think of yourself, ferocious. Not a pretty sight.
In certain situations, the enemies agree to speak in a third language, sacrificing the ease of using the mother tongue. Mother, where is your tongue?
(The long one would have caused pebble to avalanche.)
tough to anthropomorphize.
This is what happened: Walking the tightrope (no net, of course), I fell. Falling, you can’t buck gravity. It sends you down. But—mid-air, fall turned flight on the parachute of homely wings.
We sat on hard steps in the early evening summer sun, throwing balls of yarn between us: colored, tangled, blissful, aimless. It was after seven, but she said: I think I got a sunburn! The yarn tangled her head to mine—our hearts!
Decorated with artifacts from the bowels of his life: torpor and toupees.
the soft pillow of skin between. The urge to pop. You—mere blister?
I dreamt of many folded fabric pieces, each with its own compartments and pockets. One by one, I unfolded each so that its usefulness—its full body—was displayed. But the feeling pervading the dream, the one I remember from the night before setting sail, is wonder at all these pockets and folds, and the hunch that ultimately so much well-woven fabric, piled high and counted, would never be more object than pile.
As often as it rings, it’s rarely anyone I know.
Sometimes not sure whether it’s cat or man. (nothing more deceptive than a shadow) * Usually, I work at a desk. Now, I think I’d like to stand. * Gilad Shalit is on his way home. * You love your kidnapper, your body guard, the desk that chains you—not a single one a mother.
I like heat in September. I like green against blue. * Our floor: inadequately waxed. Our ceilings: high! * The eye: sharpest when watching from the margins.
Originally a gardener, she shaped concentrations of limb. Now, she cuts human hair. Sometimes, walking, leaves fall in her path. (some god snips)
He’s studying to be a healer! A helper? (a leper?) He’s losing his hair but he’s gaining focus and wisdom. (What’s a little hair? His silky white baby curls still live in an envelope.)
He turns rageful then trims his beard. It’s happened once before.
Find anything? Meanwhile the sun is coming up over the land a little too quickly. I try to placate it with salutations, but they’re spinning out of control as I try to match its swift bright rise. * Sometimes a dog may follow you home. He’ll nip at your heels, beg for something sweet, roll over and give you his paw.
Take them along in a suitcase, a bag, a paper list. Or just in your head. Don’t forget your mother!
The gatekeeper at Bellevue: understandably short-tempered. The funeral ferry, docked along the East River. Hop on!
If you were a dirty river, what would you do with the rusty motorcycles, tree trunks, slabs of concrete and sacks of rubble, not to mention raw sewage? I’ve seen a corpse float by. Amphorae, oil lamps, pots, plates, and carved pillars. * What is a living portrait? Would you succumb? And if your bust were found at the bottom of the river, a thousand years later, would you be recognizable? Who would know it was you? * Rivers steal, then lump the treasures, sodden and black, in your arms. Some find the river’s putrid perfume heady. To a treasure hunter, the glint off a filthy river is beautiful.
I don’t know where you get your information but you can’t eat money. (What are the psychological micro-nutrients in your bowl?) * Sometimes hear human screams tangled with barking. * They say Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. Three cheers for lost causes! Three cheers for hey Jude!
If you were an artist, would you mount the steep steps and knock to request the pleasure of a sitting? Look her in the eye, no matter who her husband was, and ask? Would you watch as she sipped, refraining from wetting your lips? * Never laid eyes on a foreign shore?
Who would you be without the family annals? (history, tradition, gossip, lore) The self-same you, I surmise. * What do you keep in your gold-topped vial?
Just because it’s edible doesn’t mean it’s nourishment. Think of candle wax and paper napkins.
how we used to wait for autumn rain to wet the crackling wires? We heard the sparks all day, and saw them in the dark.
Hold phones to their ears—aghast. The swallowed sadness of fathers. Their small roar, their extinguished angers. The water in the hose, what’s left after the fact.
One morning we awakened to find ourselves surrounded by sheep and goats, as if we’d arrived at a holiday camp for animals, as if we’d finally become a quieter species. They were clothed in thick fur—some curly, some not. Like good vacationers, we wore shorts, but no sandals. Like them, we were barefoot, but toed, not hoofed. Their bells tinkled. Ours were inert.
I wouldn’t call them angels—they were children, small humans, just like us, but already better than anything we would ever be: tapping time’s riches onto the air, deafening us to everything but the sound of our hearts.
every morsel is game. Participating particle. Lift a spoon from your cup of atomic soup.
I can be here and here, both. Answering the phone, cutting carrots, washing dishes. And the one who writes these words, being admitted somewhere else as she does.
I too will be a ghost, filling the spaces between the parts of a life.
His cousin woke him up to witness the birth. He takes another spoonful of soup and I know what he’s going to say: The calf was dead inside her. But, aren’t you glad you were there?
Every time I climb the steps to my hot house, returning, I pretend to pull a key from my pocket and put it in the keyhole before turning— just in case, my son says, someone down on the street is peering.
Sometimes, like a mother, a city surrounds you. Beyond the weather, which is not your problem, it has everything to do with you. But it’s always a real place, with streets, trees, an angle of light, and feet licked or tortured by an ocean.
Worth every tear shed.
a photograph can snap a life in two? The tiny fictions we submit to may add up. Put your camera away. Put it back in your sack.
I was better off then.
thank God. Tell me the shape and dimensions of your moral morass, I’ll seep you the contours of mine.
mimes the mind’s jumps and clicks. Not wind on sand.
and our blossoming, blooming, extinguishing love. Sometimes watering, other times watered. Dark, wet pungent earth.
examining an x-ray of her hand, called it seeing her own death. Some of us prefer not to play guinea pig to our spouses, but how else to expand the world’s knowledge? For weeks after his experiment, the skin on her palm peeled away, blackened by radium’s keen search.
came real again, not just your contours—so often, it feels as if we’re dealing in contours— but your soft insides.
Crickets? Cicadas. * My goat, still a carcass, still there. (From time to time, still stroke its rough black hair.)
glances back at the miracle of itself.
Take your laundry to the river in a wheelbarrow. Curl your toes around smooth stones. (don’t slip!)
Ilana took a noticeable breath—everything stopped—before she spoke. The dog came in later. By then, some people were crying, moved by her words. She asked for someone to hold the dog, please. It wasn’t fierce but it frightened one of the women. She didn’t want to be afraid: her hands went up in front of her face. She screeched and blushed at the same moment. The dog went directly to her. * Ilana began: We are majestic and flawed. She took another breath.
Not one of them knew the language spoken outside the gates. If one of them fell sick? He arrived in dusty worn sandals, spoke the local tongue as well as God’s. How to know what you believe, except sporadically?
A man just brought a bag of pomegranates. Big ones! He handed them to me as three stars turned the old year new. Now, it’s dark. (May it be a good one.)
Even as they confiscated his cheese, Matisse’s colors, Cezanne’s shapes remained. The idea of a brush. Paint! But like the Reblochon and Camembert, that bright idea stayed put. Back to letters and feta.
After the rain, worms crossed away from the sea. West, I guess. (I tend to go east.) And what about Hansel and Gretel? I think she dropped the bread crumbs. He was the bird that pecked. Isn’t that the story?
That he is animal, not human, but closer to human than sheep or tree. Note his sad eyes.
You walk the common stairway into my house; I peek inside yours.
The special kind of go-between a dry cleaners is: You hand them your best blouse, they hold it in trust. It’s not a bother. (It’s not your mother.)
I know nothing of you, of her, though I discern affect. * Still bewitched, but differently. This is another learning curve. One can write straight—almost—or crooked. * A pile of spinach leaves for lunch.
A magician teaches the novice: learn to make the card disappear the way a passing cloud hides the mountain. * You disappear your rocks and supermarkets, your passing clouds and Your sleight of hand maintains: no history but conflict and desire. * Embedded with you in this rocky terrain, embedded in you. * Small disturbances in the dark night. Moth or lizard?
We’ve grilled a variety of meaty topics, we’ve fried, (chopped, splayed, eviscerated), we’ve rinsed, added oil. We’ve eaten our meals, adding salt and spice. We’ve glanced up and agreed, nodding, that what this is: a feast.
Because you never use it, you forget: your chimney is made of bricks.
I once sent love letters in foreign tongues, using alphabets you couldn’t decipher.
Russet coat, tiny light hairs that glitter your clothes. Talk about curiosity: He’ll smell anything! Lick, too!
Penelope, she said, wove and unwove, biding her time. * Weaving, she’s woven. The days accumulate in warp and weft. A kind of heft.
My oldest friend says: There are never fewer than two or three unnamed, unremarked-upon elephants, each with big ears, a switch-like tail, and rough hairy skin. At family dinners, I sidle up to one and stroke its great wiry hairiness, then move on to the next.
The things we think we’re not saying, but (which we are) The knives and forks hanging off our bodies, stuck in our skin, the spoons dangling words. * Clignancourt: Only when you’re dead will the flea market lie fallow.
for the caress of a wow. Though it may seem to require a description or an analysis, I don’t. Something heartfelt hits my spot.
I expected you to understand everything said and unsaid, written and not. What faith! The faith of one who requires healing. (sealing) The wax, our lips, guided by once-stern principles, imbibed and digested, rendered holy by the passing light and compliance, our hearts. * How any you may be turned beloved. Once, I dreamt we were swimming in the very same sea!
Entering the theater, that couple standing in front of us—a man and a woman, a little older— took up our attention. Days later and on another continent, we still think of them. Did they survive the ordeal of that theatrical production, its silences and attempts at terror, its maimed eros, its blood and droning soundtrack, the authentic-seeming props, whole rooms you could not just peek but walk into— all the accoutrements of a play, like a life, written and not? The audience ran through, gleeful and frantic. Did they?
Even in broad daylight, the cats take back the land, hissing it wild. He’s there, alone with his trees. Dedicates a green hill to me.
currently a perk (no longer a pre-requisite)
She flops the fish onto the table—it flips off. When he died, she made a promise to herself: no sleeping with the customers. This fish is wily. Still alive?
Last night following that business, he was unable to sleep. Tossed me awake, and then I tossed him out. Furious, I looked at butterflies in a book until my eyes closed. He watched Tripoli fall.
I jump his bones eagerly. He touches me quietly.
Anne Germanacos’ work has appeared in over eighty literary journals and anthologies. Her collection of short stories, In the Time of the Girls, was published by BOA Editions in 2010. She and her husband live in San Francisco and on Crete. Her website is: www.annegermanacos.com.