Sunday, February 06, 2011

Redder Than Diane's Lipstick

The paper blot melted on my tongue in a piazza near Lake Cuomo. The man at the next table tapped his glass of Pernod and water at my ear. Did he know? Did he see the guerilla girls catching their blood in glass vials and spraying the canvas pink? Did he taste Pernod in a paint bucket? Diane MacPhear said her father was reincarnated in the old flesh, cracked and blue from blood thinners, skeletal fingers, and bulbous nose. He stood two days in Ethiopian tea, Diane said, with a reduction of rubber bark. On the third day his flesh turned pink and he flew to Our Lady. We flew behind him. Rains washed away baby powder, roughened our skin. My arms chaffed with the currents. But I knew all the Pernod in Italy would not keep us up. It wasn't a matter of drugs. It was a matter of time before my skin would slide from the bone like the skin of the girl with the fat face in fourth grade. Epithalamium tissue moved in waves from the forehead over the eyelids and down the cheeks until it hung like a colostomy bag under the chin. Her Cherokee bones glistening.

First Published: Gargoyle (Summer 2010). Eds. Richard Peabody & Lucinda Ebersole.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Toucans & Reindeer

The day after Thanksgiving, her mother mounted the singing reindeer with flashing antlers above the toilet, and Diana filled her ears with Angel Soft. She cringed at the trappings—tinsel strand by strand on a tree turning brown, stuffed turkey, musical chairs with cousins she saw once a year. But the holiday changed when the cousin with luscious lips like Danny Zuko handed her dried cannabis wrapped in paper. At fifteen she had no idea what lay ahead—hours waiting for vowels and consonants to catch an upward drift and tumble down before she took another drag, holding it so long she could hear toucans screech from the den below. Their big green beaks tipped in red. Her science teacher said they were tissue thin on the outside. Yet inside, honeycombs of bone. Ridges and hollows of white calcium twirling into a playground of hexagons for no one except Diana and the boy on Christmas Eve.

First published in riverbabble 17 (Summer Bloomsday 2010), Ed. Leila Rae