the life of richie

DANDELION TEA OR COFFEE

Posted in is, was by Rich on July 18, 2011

Mom says that every spring her mother would instruct her on the taking of dandelion tea: of fresh dandelion roots steeped in hot water.

“It helps to thin the blood. The blood gets thick in the winter and must be thinned out when the sunnier weather arrives.”

Now, in the spring/on the shelves of the Shoprite, mom searches for the same.

In the seventeenth century, it was believed that the overuse of hot caffeinated drinks, thought to soften the body, would lead to a “general feminization of the human race” (Foucault, Madness and Civilization 170). Foucault quotes: “Woe to the human race, if this prejudice extends its reign to the common people; there will be no more plowmen, artisans, soldiers, for they will soon be robbed of the strength and vigor necessary to their profession.”

So, too, I think, standing in line at the Starbucks for my iced, unsweetened green tea. Watching the hordes and hipsters sipping their foamy, creamy beverages. Their whipped cream delicacies. Do we realize how absurd we all look? Madness and civilization, indeed! I see Max, a former student, waiting for his order. “Working this summer, Max?” He says not. “Gotta be a functioning member of society,” I say. He knows, he knows –– so he’s been told. Yes; it is a thing to say. He carries his frothy load out and we bump elbows in parting.

Outside; through the glass I see there is an anabolic grandpa preening without his shirt on. It is a grotesque display in a way that –– one cannot look away. Every hair from his bloated, overworked-out, protein-wheyed torso plucked and polished to a state of the hyperreal. And he must be at least fifty. (My order is called.) What kind of a society?…

My hand closes around the sweating, cold tea. Without consideration, an errant pinky stretches itself outward ––

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IN THE OVEN

Posted in is by Rich on July 13, 2011

Everyone says it is very hot and very humid, but here on the Island it feels all right. I meet Caroline at the Arts Center on Monday for a free screening of Rear Window. She says, “Remember when New York used to be affordable,” as if we could actually remember. We sit outside, and she is very pregnant and looks so tired (her eyes begging for something to give). She says she’s always tired now, and lifts up her feet to show me her painfully swollen ankles and red manicured toenails.

We talk about school and our summer classes. There is a breeze. Didn’t we maybe sit here when we were just teenagers come over from the middle school? Just thirteen or fourteen or so? Did we leave behind bits of those people here for later? For when we would need.

Caroline says that she might not go back to teaching at the college after the baby comes; says she’s had enough, and I understand that, I do. Perhaps I am pregnant with something and will give birth this year and not go back either. Everything must change, but still –– a part of me feels like the child in her is a time bomb, ticking, and that when it goes off, that will be a new end to our friendship. Will we still be able to sit here, just the two of us, catching a bit of summer breeze and quiet after a free film? (I almost imagine a tug from some phantom infant on her pant leg, and it startles me.)

My mom, too, feels she has lost her sister [my aunt] to my cousin’s children. She says, “It makes me very sad, but I need to realize that my sister [my aunt] is gone (at least for the next decade or so), and that we won’t be able to meet for lunch like we did, or go shopping like –– or coffee. I need to say yes to myself and to invitations from other people. I need to go out.”

And I have felt like this, too: like I desperately need to get all new friends like one might decide that he has nothing to wear and so can’t go out. (But you understand what I mean, married friends and friends with children; you understand. Just as you needed to seek out other married friends and babied friends, so, too, must I seek.) It’s like a survival instinct has been triggered, but I feel too lazy to socialize (I’ve always loathed July; who wants to make new friends in July? and like Alex used to say, “It’s too hot for other bodies about,”) and it’s too hot to be bothered the next day [Tuesday] –– and I text Karen that next night: “Will you be terribly sad if I don’t make it over tonight? The heat has me feeling rather unsocial,” and she says, yes, “Terribly,” but understands, I’m sure.

Instead, I stay at home and think about writing, but can’t write anything. I watch Grand Hotel. I fix myself a Pimm’s Cup with leftovers from the wedding in April. A whole new life, one thinks; and it would be so easy. To discard all of this, this apartment with the disposable IKEA furniture, and the job without a contract, and everything and just –– just GO. (It is very exciting, so much so that I need to sit down, to steady myself.)

(To just run away…)

But not in July.

July is no kind of month for anything.

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FRACKING

Posted in is by Rich on July 13, 2011

“Mom, did you hear that the Susquehanna is now the most endangered river in America? I read it in an article.”

She looks down at the ground and becomes very quiet and very small a moment; I have told her this because I know what she will say; and then she says it: “Your grandfather used to say –– ”

Yes, I know, I know, I think. (But I want the story told again, as if it will bring him back and bring back the river, too. Bring all of it back.)

” –– that for some reason, he thought Susquehanna was…”

What is the most beautiful.

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BUT, ANYWAY –– AS I WAS SAYING

Posted in is by Rich on July 11, 2011

I was saying to someone recently, while I was working at my dad’s law office, as has apparently become my custom this summer (to estivate at the customhouse on Fridays), that being an English teacher, like my mom & I both are –– as my etymology professor had once said that The sons of linguists all become lawyers, and the sons of lawyers, linguists –– that we were all in the business, the profession, (my family, that is) of language and its interpretation.

Except for sister.

Sister, you see, is in sound (a recording engineer); has rebelled against the Linguists of South Jersey and fled to the musicians in the Hudson River Valley.

There, she listens to the acoustics in the old church where she records new groups.

She listens to the silence in her small attic apartment at night.

Listens to the conspiracy of mosquitoes on the porch.

Listens to the secret rain.

She calls to hear our mom’s voice on the phone.

I’m so alone here, she almost says, but knows that mom will over-analyze those four words and interpret them to mean that she isn’t happy, thus defeated.

Like the linguists, the sound engineer, whose business is to record that which is most beautiful, is a beautiful occupation, which also makes it a useful one.

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ALL SUMMER IN A BLOG

Posted in is by Rich on August 29, 2010

This hellish summer of discontent. –Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker (June 2010)

Another glacier breaks apart from the slushy mess of Greenland, that frozen dacquiri of a nation left out on the counter too long. The Middle East seethes in its unsettlement: a veritable beach blanket burka. (In France, the burka is banned: what not to wear from the country that brought us the bikini. This year, Islamophobia looks to be all the rage.) With Russia burning, we waited to witness the radioactive monster unleashed from the kiln/for our kin, coming through the smoke to smite us. Global Warming, once seeming a bit passé, now back with a vengeance –– this, the summer’s hottest trend. D.C. becomes a hottub swamp while New York plays host to a convivial powwow of bedbugs.

So it was I returned from the UK and announced to friends that it was too hot to travel anywhere outside of South Jersey for the rest of the summer –– that I could not stray too far from the seaside and would see out the summer here (see you in September), a recluse-somebody. I returned to find the plants on the back deck (even with another someone stopping over to water) had been scorched down to a desiccated soil; little potted wastelands with garden gnome transfigured into Fisher King attending. “It was a holocaust,” I told Tommy when he & Anne came to visit one weekend in July. “You could always re-plant,” some friends offered. “There is still time and season enough.” But I wanted them to be dead & withered things then. I preferred to sit out back and look at the anorexic sticks reaching up through the dirt, skeletons returning from their graves to get a tan. This was more in keeping with my mood of July and August. I wrote to Linda P––: “Chickens, unhatched, were counted, as you know; I thought all the ducks were in a row, as it were” [re: the future]. But it was not to be. The best laid plans gang aft agley, after all. So fuck it, Lenny.

Instead, there was a succession of lunches arranged: Gerri; Sarah; Caroline & Jill; Emily & her poet-lover; Lori & her baby; et al. Rob B–– teased me about my mania for scheduling lunches, as we sat on the porch of Karen’s new house on the last day of that seventh month. But I like to schedule lunches, like a dowager in some domestic English novel of manners: here goes the fork, there the spoon, bit of gossip et bon mots over coffee. “More cream?” The breaking of glass. Don’t cry over spilled. Sarah’s water breaks two months early; she delivers a healthy little girl, so tiny but so healthy.

And one leafy flower potted on the back deck actually returned to thrive in the heat and could not be cut down. I am the Lazarus-plant, come back to tell you all (I will tell you all).

I texted Rob B–– the next morning after Karen’s housewarming party: “Make it home ok?”

“Yea babe I’m good, thanks.” Rob & I and Rachel on July 4th, drinking Miller High Life (Light), sneaking down to the beach to watch the fireworks with boxed, blush wine dispensed into Wawa travel mugs. It was one of those nights that makes you feel like you’re in a movie.

And in addition to lunches, there continued Sunday breakfasts with dad, with occasional special guests: Tommy & Anne; Rachel often; Karen, too. Sometimes at the North End Grill, where one eats sweet potato homefries at tables by the beach and thinks, “This is one of those mornings that makes you feel like you’re in a teen drama on the CW.”

And on August 1st, writing to a former student who had e-mailed: “Ahh, August first –– it holds such a strange thrall. I look forward to the fall, though.”

In August, some children set up a lemonade stand near my apartment. I would pass them by, and when they asked “Lemonade?” with their goblinny diabetic voices (come buy! come buy!), shook my head and said I wanted none of what they were peddling. Kids must learn, after all, that Capitalism is more often withholding (cruel Randroid philosophy) than promoting. When life gives you lemons and you make lemonade and that lemonade doesn’t sell, then you’re screwed. (Kids should be paying me to squeeze out such good life lessons.) Kids shouting when I pulled up on the street after a nightly literature class: “Punch buggy white! Punch buggy white!” And once a mother reproved, “If you hit him again, I’m going to hit you!” One sees parenting at its finest in the summer, in the summer in a resort town, when it is hot and summery and all humanity is stripped to the waist.

Suddenly, in the pit of August, the nights grew cool, and I caught a cold. I had written to Brittany V––, when she was sick earlier in the month: “I hope by the time you read this you’re feeling better; it’s horrible being sick in the summer, what with the heat & all. I remember all too well the heat of New York in the summer –– somewhere I have a short story I wrote about it; I remember reading once that homicides triple in the months of July and August. I remember walking past the H&M store on 34th Street, that used to leave its front entrance all open onto the street, so that sidewalk outside was cooled by Freon, and there was something wasteful and desperate about that stretch of unnaturally cold pavement; traveling from air conditioned space to air conditioned space and by the end of the day one always feeling so drained –– like ‘a wet noodle’ is what my friend Ally would say. But it will pass –– and here it’s almost September, which has always been a kind of rebirth for me, as a student and then student-teacher and now teacher. […] I do think emotions & sensibilities, ironically, might be heightened during times of illness –– and maybe that’s why at such times, even more than others, we crave the reciprocation of some other human spirit. Then our body rebounds and we are closed up in healthy flesh again and shut off/shut ourselves off. I suppose the trick is always in cultivating the inner world so that it can be heard through the body. I don’t know if that makes sense; it’s early still and I have to get ready to give tours to incoming freshmen on campus this morning.” Prepare a face to meet the Facebook that you meet. The seagirls all return to college. One thirsts for a return to reason; will it never be quenched?

As men trudged out of the burnt-out Iraqi gardens, we gritted our teeth and prepared for The Fall.

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NOTES FROM A YOUNG MAN’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES (DECEMBER 2007)

Posted in was by Rich on July 7, 2010

26 DECEMBER 2007

Arrived in London yesterday amidst pleasant drizzle. Staying at the Sloane Sq. Hotel. Took a taxi through Hyde Park. Dined at Al-dar Lebanese on King’s Road. Difficult to be back in the Capital. Was so indecently happy here two years ago.

28 DECEMBER 2007

Took a train to Cardiff. Staying at St. David’s Spa on the Bay w/ view of Red Dragon. Lunched at Harry Ramsden, fish & chips. Walked around. Drank w/ dad & Rach. Smoked too many fags. Sick this a.m.

29 DECEMBER 2007

No coffee yet. At the Abbey in Penally, Wales. Lovely.

(Later…)

In Bath. Dinner @ Crystal Palace. Walked around. Waitrose for chocolate. Vicar of Dibley w/ fam.

31 DECEMBER 2007

Again in London. Staying on Edgeware Rd. Dinner last night at Turkish rest. Today: museums?

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A RETURN

Posted in is by Rich on June 29, 2010

13th–14th JUNE

Pat J. drove us past shore traffic & through (at times) torrential rain to the airport; arrived at 5pm; walked around, had frozen yogurt & coffees (no Starbucks at PHL, which seems unnatural); played three hands of Millesborne. Boarded on time; took off a half hour late. Landed in London at 9:35am GMT. Signal problems on the Piccadilly line contributed to a 2-1/2 hour tube ride from Heathrow. Met the parents at Hilton-Euston at 1pm (13:00). Here, my old neighborhood, where I was a student! We went to newly rehabbed St. Pancras station.

St. Pancras Station/Hotel

Then to the Euston Flyer for pub grub. Picked up supplies at the M&S (Euston Station). Deposited the parents back at the hotel. Rach & I took Woburn Walk to Mabel’s Tavern for a quick drink before returning to the hotel at 18:15. Utterly exhausted. Bed by 19:00.

15th JUNE

View from the Great Orme

Took train from Euston to Llandudno Junction to a connecting train to Llandudno. Checked into Cân-Y-Bae hotel. Train up hillside to Great Orme. (Breathtaking.) Lunch back at Fish Tram Chips. Walked over/along pier & down promenade. Downtown deserted after 6pm. (Desert at KFC: the flake avalanche.) Drinks at hotel. In room 23:00.

16th JUNE –– BLOOMSDAY!

Woke at 5:30. Proceeded to have 3 or 4 Nescafes in the room. Sister phoned room at six to say she was going out for real coffee; rang again 30 mins. later to confirm that nothing in town opens until eight. Had an Eccles cake –– like Bloomstreet! –– in the room & yogurt + toast with french press coffee downstairs. Train from Llan. to Junction to Holyhead. Noon ferry (“the Jonathan Swift”) to Dublin. Came into the town the same way Joyce went out.

(Later.)

Bloomsday on Duke Street, Dublin

Times Hostel is solid/nice; right across from Trinity College. Rachel & I took a constitutional down Grafton St. to St. Stephen’s Green. Returned with parents later to see revelers outside Davy Byrnes for the Day, dressed in Edwardian finest. Dinner at Porterhouse (bangers & mash for me; delightful, the plate encased in Yorkshire pudd). Mom & I took Literary Pub Walk, starting at the Duke; she won second prize in the night’s trivia (should’ve been first). Returned at 22:30. Bed by 23:00.

17th JUNE

Early coffee at Insomnia with Dad & Rach. Walk around Dublin & Writer’s Museum today. Cloudy now. Should be getting up to 67ºF (20ºC).

(Later.)

Took 1-1/2 hour free tour round Dublin Castle. Broke off early for a panini & latte on Dame St. before hoofing it w/ M. up O’Connell St. to Writer’s Museum; then brief, meandering pilgrimage to site of 7 Eccles (where there is now a hospital), passing birthplace of Sean O’Casey & b.p. of Gogarty. Passed new Abbey Theatre. Back to hostel at 16:00 to rest before dinner.

Along the Liffey

(Later.)

Quick dinner at Bewley’s off Grafton then drink with R. at Davy Byrnes. Back to hostel by 19:00 to conclude laundry. Early night. Earlier day tomorrow.

18th JUNE

St. Vincente's Street, Glasgow

Caught a 5:30 shuttle to Dublin airport; RyanAir flight to Glasgow Prestwick. Train. Arrived at Central Station round 11; cab to City Inn Hotel. Walked w/ R. back into town down St. Vincent’s to George’s Sq. Dinner back across from the hotel (Indian). Had myself a shave. Read The Guardian. Watched a bit of the underwhelming Eng. vs. Alg. match. Drink w/ R. & D. along the River Clyde; the sun strong & stirring even at 21:30. The days are longest now.

19th JUNE

Woke at 5:30 to get coffees from “McDonald’s” (Scottish?). Met tour guide Allie at 8:45 in George’s Sq. for a tour of the Highlands. Stopped at a glittering Loch Lomond. Drove through the Weeping Glen where MacDonald’s men (relation to coffee?) were slaughtered. Lunch at Glencoe (egg/watercress sandwich & apple). Spent 1-1/2 hours at Glenfinnan; sublime. Stopped for first look at Loch Ness. Hotel on the Ness River in Inverness.

Glenfinnan

20th JUNE

Drinks by the river in Inverness last night after dinner & stop at Tesco’s. Woke at 5:40 for coffee. (Vegetarian for me) Highlands breakfast in hotel. Allie picked us up at 9:10. Stopped for spectacular views at Glen Affric. Saw Uruquat Castle on Loch Ness round noon. Lunch at The Bothy in Perth(?). Drove through Monarch of the Glen setting. Looked for gold & at waterfalls. Stopped in Pitlochry for ice cream stenciled with chocolate syrup (“flavour blast”). Spotted a few “heeling coo“. Through Birnam Wood, past Stirling Castle & back to Glasgow on motorway. Back in town by 19:00 for dinner on St. George Sq.

Glen Affric

21st–22nd JUNE

Scottish breakfast at Rennie’s Station Hotel. Mom & I walked around looking at Rennie Mackintoshes; R & I walked Buchanan looking at shops. Trained to Prestwick Glasgow, whose motto “Pure Dead Brilliant” seems in rather questionable taste for an airport. Stansted Express into London. YHA St. Pancras around 17:30. Ate dinner at Norfolk Arms; brilliant food there (Spanish tapas). Went to Russell Supermarket for supplies. Drinks w/ Dad & Rach at Mabel’s; then at the Lord John Russell.

(Next.)

Green Park

Underground; got out at Green Park due to delays. Walked through Green & St. James parks. Upper Crust brunch at Victoria. Walked to Abbey in Westminster, where there was much filming & protests. M & I went to Churchill War Rooms (later learned Arianna had mounted Winston’s tuft of hair on display); glimpsed 10 Downing through the gates. Dinner at Mabel’s (fish & chips and steak & spitfire pies). Drinks with Arianna at Calthorpe, which has a new flat screen tv & renoed bathrooms w/ vessel sinks; same knackered patrons & drapes, though.

23rd JUNE 2010

Parents left. Rachel & I mailed some postcards; grabbed brekkie from M&S; ate our food in St. Pancras Sta.; went to the British Library for the gift shop & bathrooms. Walked to Tavistock Square; down Gower through Bloomsbury to Covent G.; attended the Transport Museum shop (where R. bought an apron with tube seat covers pattern; good for dissembling stains); walked down to the River & all the way to the Tate in Chelsea. Had a latte. Revisited the Pre-Raphs, incl. Chatterton, returned from his touring. Blinded by the brilliance of the Turners, which are R’s favs. Walked to Sloan Sq.; grabbed lunch at Eat. Had gelato outside Partridge’s. Walked up Sloane St. to Harvey Nichols for toilets. Walked through Hyde Park, up Edgeware Rd. to Marylebone; had smoothies near Euston; returned to lodgings. Rach ill (food poisoning from lunch?); had to cancel plans with Roge & Lou.

24th JUNE

Saw R. off on the train. Walked down Judd St. to see the new Brunswick Centre; preferred the old one, mostly closed the year I was here. Renoir is still there; and Hare & Tortoise, where staff is “vague but willing” read one review. Walked down Southampton Row to Holborn, where I used to food shop; down Holborn to (New) Fetter Lane to Fleet St.; to St. Paul’s; across Millennium Bridge. Here, sitting looking at the church & the river & the sky. (O, and the Gherkin!)

(An hour later.)

Popped in at the Tate Mod, to see the Bacons, mostly. Going to walk along the South Bank to campus.

Along the Thames, South Bank

(30 mins. later.)

Next to the booksellers under Waterloo Bridge.

(15:10.)

Took Jubilee Walk over to Trafalgar & Nat’l Portrait Gallery. Up to Gower St. & over to Senate House to use the bathroom. Read Cakes & Ale for awhile, sitting in Russell Sq. Coffee & granola bar from Starbucks in Brunswick Sq., next to Fields. Going back to Brit-Lib. to retrieve bag from hostel & meet Arianna.

25th–26th JUNE

Woke up at A’s round nine. Ran down the road to the Costcutters for two white coffees. Checked e-mail & watched the rowers on the canal in Hackney outside their apt. window. Took the 253 bus into town. Got to So. Kensington round 15:00. Had a salad in Hyde Park. Met A. at Natty Hist. Museum for a VIP tour; was allowed to touch the fossils. Went with her work friend Mel to a nearby pub. Took the tube up to Islington for dinner. Bus over to Hackney; stopped in a few hipsterish pubs as we walked back to her flat.

Bus to Finsbury Park Sta. to pick up Piccadilly back to Heathrow terminal five.

EN BRETAGNE, AGAIN; OR NOT

Posted in is by Rich on May 23, 2010

A former student from many years ago posts to his Facebook feed, “en Bretagne,” and because he is one who never posts anything, it is a mild shock, the return of one once familiar in an unfamiliar setting. (I will call him Andrew Bretagne here.) Hours later, I think I see him sitting outside Express Pizza, talking to two police officers. Could it be him? and it seems plausible; this was the kid who over spring break the year he was in my class (he was a junior in high school) left train schedules for Boston in his bedroom for his parents to find, when really he had stolen aboard a bus bound for Chicago. Police eventually were sent to find him and return him to Bergen County, NJ. But still, you see why I wouldn’t put it past him. “Andrew est en Bretagne,” when really he is sitting with a girl outside a closed pizza shop on an island off the coast of South Jersey. And with the police: it is a rerun of spring break his junior year –– that year we took off for Amsterdam to see the tulips and Anne Frank’s house, my friend. While we were touring the annex, Andrew was aboard a Chi-town bus, running away, only to be found by the secret police and taken back to the Garden State.

There is no place like unheimlich.

At breakfast, there seem to be too many babies (I feel claustrophobic –– like their screaming is eating up all the air), and I wonder why must there be so many children in the world (and before 9 A.M.) and want to post to Facebook, “Rich thinks there should be a tax on babies in restaurants,” but know it will perturb friends who’ve gone to seed (in his feed). So I decide, instead, to later blog about it: because none of the breeders have time to read this (and if you are reading it, well done, you, still finding time for yourself, what with the child/ren, and when you do steal a moment, what do you do with it but read this blog: I am touched but unmolested). The homefries at the Beach Club are delightful, but need some ketchup; the Florentine and rye toast exquisite. A woman with a baby cranky about its hotcakes being too hot, pushes her chair up against mine and complains, “I don’t have enough room!” –– but I was here first, and so refuse to press in tighter. Besides, how will any of us ever have enough room again with all your spawn, woman? The nerve.

Unheimlich is where you hang your pointed hat.

I did a travel project about Brittany (Fr. Bretagne) when I was a junior in high school. (Brittany’s birthday is tomorrow; I must remember to return her e-mail.) I remember –– (I did not run away from home on a bus, but) standing in front of the class –– gesturing to a map –– Mme. Rinck smiling with approbation as I tried to articulate, in an awkward tongue, the walled cities like Saint-Malo, tous les châteaux, and with England just across the Channel, what more could you want from vos vacances? Were we, my class partner and I, both wearing pointed hats for some reason? (I seem to recall.) I seem to remember that –– Andrew Bretagne, when he was in class, always looked so detached from us all, but would sometimes offer something to our discussion, being pulled from his inner abyss a moment , and once he used the word behoove when speaking. And it behooved everyone to smile when he did, for he was much admired by everyone.

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MY FRIEND, SHE SAYS

Posted in is by Rich on May 10, 2010

My friend, she made her money in hedge funds and retired at 30. She talks of going back, at least for the health benefits. We go to the diner for coffee and pie; been going to the diner since high school, when we were both just theories of people and not much of anything yet in practice. Before decisions were made; before revisions and more decisions rendered.

My friend, she broke her arm, and now has to wear this ridiculous hot pink cast for another two weeks, as punishment or prevention: she will not go back to work in hedge funds until it’s off. Her hand, what once made rich financial transactions, itches with freckling skin, hungers for the saw. “Gross,” we agree, and receive our coffees and creamers.

My friend, she vituperates Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore, and I just sit and smile, because it’s like watching a live version of Fox News sometimes. We speak of less toxic subjects, like the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. She mentions going to Norway with her dad, to visit relatives, and I say I’ve always wanted to go to Norway. She says, “Really?” she says; she has no desire, except to provide company for her dad. “Why would you want to go?” Suddenly, I feel rather stupid for wanting to go to Norway, but later will dream of fjords if only one could afford to see them. I think of all that oil hemorrhaging into the sea and want to scream [cannot be articulated]. “Those Scandinavian countries fascinate me.”

I tell my friend, my sister has started working for the census, and she sneers that it [the census] seems like such a waste of money. “Do you know how much it costs for each household? $1000,” she says. I ask if that means for paper and to pay the enumerators [census workers who go door to door] and desk clerks like my sister; she supposes. She argues with her phone, which seems to be frozen or dead. “How is the pie?” She seems changed, my friend, like too much leisure has left her retired from life. Later, when I am dreaming of fjords and greasy seagulls, I wonder what she believes in above all else. Her new nephew. New York City. I think she does me, but maybe only sometimes. In New York City, she is sheltered from all of this, and rarely leaves, like an old recluse who’s shut herself off from the world and doesn’t answer the knock when the enumerators come to call. She shows me a picture of her nephew on her phone when I slip into talking about grading research papers.

When I drive her home through the dark, sleepy suburban streets, my friend, she says, “I don’t know how you can live here.” I think it scares her, my friend, these people out here, outside of the city with its glittering illusions, out here in the suburbs, where there are only hedges but no funds. We embrace, and she slips from my arms out the car, blurring into the darkness and the storm. It is an oft-repeated dance, and all the other times we have hugged when I’ve dropped her off at her parents’ are painted underneath this most recent print; but those earlier prints become fainter each time.

30

Posted in is by Rich on April 30, 2010

On the table there is
abandoned index card
reads

In the garden,
where the girl had planted the cigarette butts,
a rough source rises up ––
belching out of the dirt,
thirsting for sun and for love/murder.

A boy on Facebook writes,
“I am staying up all night
just to see this month end.”
But when midnight passes,
he forgets to note it ––
upsets the hot tea onto his lap,
curses May and sets all his expectations
on June.

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