My sunburn is a thirty nine year old Jewish man from Tacoma, who wants
to meet me while I play guitar. What have I come to, I ask and there
is very little I can not answer, just this, only this, only how many
rings can one finger bear, how many ear-drums will pop before I know
it. How many times underground philosophers lick the floors of their
respective buildings, sweep away the dustpans, kiss women of their
You haven't a clue either I assume, so I'm counting, one, two, three,
and up to eighty-seven, up to when the number is ahead of my
grandmother's age, and I can stop quoting song lyrics, although I
haven't even tried.
Only answer what you can behold, only what I already know. Look upside
down when you do, and eat bagels with low-fat Philadelphia™ cream
cheese and lox. Don't call it salmon. It is not fish. It is my tribute
to bacon, just more expensive, more and more, only when I would like
to cut down on my forks. On the gas miles of the bicycle I don't own.
Theme songs are ordinary. But then again, John Williams is still alive.
Response by Claire Shefchik:
I'm not sure I know how to sing anymore, but still my voice comes out. A classically-trained gift with no practical use, it sits in the sun, drinking it in, producing oxygen like a plant. I once had a heroine who did that, and she loved someone I still do. But he's not anymore, he's dead and gone in almost every way someone can be-- in paper, on the ground, under a tummy, deep in the synapses I keep snapped shut. I'm trying to improve my vocabulary, but I have nothing to talk about. Can you help me tell more stories that never tell the story? I have too many not to arise and come out. When did paper become my only medium?
Last night I revisited my thirteen-year-old meditations. They evolved from hurt and angst, to puppy love, to meditations on faith and survival, to hope. They lasted until someone arrived that made me hope for something different, a new file, under a changed category. Strike me and melt me on the floor, that growing girl's been struck. Have you gone down to the cellar lately, or the caves? Have you lit a candle for the past? It was really more like a dream than anything else, minus red, minus costumes, minus that twisted take on ancient Rome I stole and never gave back. They were all there, again, with a crowd, not quite on the stage, but not off it, either. Half the living cast. And I sat on the bar and was the heroine again, regressed, the ingenue kicking my sandal feet, watching. Sixteen.