the corn reminded you of a woman
the corn reminded you of a woman
Let your fingernails grow.
Pluck at every instance of your skin. There must be something to pluck, pull and tie round. Dock yourself to, against.
Night becomes morning and you drink coffee. Wear nice clothes, pull them off. Try your best to continue. Continue. And then: night milks itself out into morning.
In the end you give birth to child.
You don’t really believe it’s there, even though it’s screaming and dripping with your blood. It’s hard comprehend, comprehend its physical fragment reality of you. You blink. Horror or, responsibility. It smells. Your nose is wrinkling.
“Well, your hair,” she says. Her eyes masked in huge black lenses. Hanging over her brow, just skimming the cheekbones. Between her face and yours. Your thumb whittles into the inch of space above the table. Seeing its reflection in the spirals of the wood, your finger circle the whorls round and round, like magnets upon greeting each other. Unconsciously and not fast enough to illustrate surprise, you say, “I know, it’s grey.” Before she has a chance. What she would spit, out of her thin, heart shaped face. So small and shiny in the sun. There is a permanent sheen from the creams she applies, the wrinkles carefully and inconspicuously folded into themselves when she smiles.
The shades are unblinking and alien and chic.
“No,” the woman responds, “I mean, you have a lot of hair. It’s really nice hair.”
You laugh because you know few people keep their hair long, and you’ve dyed it, and she quickly asks about dye, about your wife.
Her husband asks you how you are. If you are busy. Across the table you stare at this nameless, open-eyed couple, the birds humming to themselves in the background.
Your wife is busy, you tell them.
In the dusk their wine is a softly glowing pink. It slides wordlessly between them, a single clear, slender glass. You drink beer. It’s cold and pickled in sweat and tastes likes horse piss. American beer they chilled for you. It fits snug in your hands. Rounded curl, a child’s grip.
The wick of their wine glass with springs up between their fingertips, delicately.
You vaguely mention streets. The ones they might remember, when they visited you. You may be, likely, talking too much. Anthony doesn’t mind. You would have been friends in school. Anthony uses his hands as though he was opening portals, stretching them out and explaining. You look into them curiously, politely deny another flank of steak.
You do not wear your wedding ring.
The corn twists on the grill like a flagrant yellow corkscrew. A gypsy begs, drips in Munich. Some thin parchment paper slip she wore, brittle in the summer heat. She had stretched on a concrete ledge over the pavement, the heat of the afternoon cracking her skin. Hair like a flag in strips; black, flapping. She twisted, twists. Deeply tan, a form of roasting. Was she insane? You try to remember, don’t. You were younger when you had the time or made the time to watch her.
They ask about the children.
You move your hands, your head swivels planarly.
Think of the vacant, ambulant drifting. The girls in their soft blue summer dresses, their hair long and golden like their mother’s.
“Francisca fights all the time with Lina,” you say. You talk about how mothers cannot stand their daughters, how daughters will always remain daughters to their mothers, how mothers will always remain mothers to their daughters, how everything is a function of a relation to something else.
You think of your daughters, how the girls glide through the city as though passing along beach dunes, they roll their eyes up and stick burning things in their mouths. They hoot good-naturedly, flashing pretty fingers in peace signs, grin charmingly at parties and through bites of the small dark plums. They steal them, plums and apricots, swept up from the market stalls, casually picked, they swing off their bikes, to the bus, their teeth are small and curve up, at the corners where their skin meets their eyes. At the corners mischief softens into youth, blurs into blue, kindness warm like their mother’s. Their mother’s tranquility swimming there.
“Life stops for them,” the woman declares, serenely. A hard box in fine paper, either a challenge or a comment. She leans back in her chair but does not drape her arms over the rests. You (still) cannot discern her eyes and her mouth is an ambiguous horizon line.
“My daughter will always be my daughter, no matter how old she is.”
The knot where your heel and ankle fuse up into your standing support system burns. You remember a lifetime of running, of stairs.
“And you’ll always be her mother, no matter she is.”
Everything, you note, is a function of a relation to something else. Your father, for instance.
Rolls himself up from the heavy chair by the window, the city a dull childlike kuzoo. Anonymous and plastic and far and jazzy and muted below him—he rolls up the red medicinal review magazine alongside his hips, rolls himself up with a spine agile as a whip, that had sprung into rivers when he was a dollop of a kid, pale and watery like white early sun, a skeleton of morning, vanishing before the day came upon him. Remember when he showed you this lagoon far from the steamy city you ran towards, slouching and puffing his chest proud, heaving with emotion, remember when this square man opened his hands out like a king to the empty flatness of an olive lagoon, this square man that once had been scrawny with youth, that once had been mere lines, and the open palm, flat as a window.
Words are sticking in your mouth like gum. You briefly remember the days of dip, soaking in your teeth. You run a tongue over your molars, suddenly conscious of whether anything is stuck there.
“Her mother isn’t too good,” you tell them, sighing, “Her memory isn’t so good, and she wants Francisca there all the time. Fran says she’s fifty, she isn’t just a daughter.” You all start talking about irony.
The couple’s daughter is home to visit. She is young with pointed features and arrogant eyes. Thin, elegantly boney. Her hair piled messily and importantly on top her head, the face drawn forth like an arrow. She angles herself against her chair, she has not slept; she is twisting a golden engagement ring. You can tell this and feel this, her eyes deep and dark, her skin translucent.
Restlessness is palpable, you remember. It slithers over her crossed arms, itchy and uncomfortable like an old, hairy feather boa in a grandmother’s closet. The one that seems to glow faintly and then hiss, crowning you with ancient, silent splendor and you tip, carefully, into and out of the mirror, lifting yourself from parallel realities. Consider the life of a movie star before you know the difference between stars and movies.
You want to reach out and stop the daughter. You want to make love to her. You want to tell her everything. She pales and glows and flashes in an instant. She can sense you’re horny. I have lived in cities, you feel like telling her.
“They are happy, the girls,” you say.
She is living in the cities now, lovers spinning behind her like revolving doors.
She exits. A train pulls through tunnels, distancing and smallening. Youth doesn’t aggravate anymore, but it surprises. A shot of something sharp at the doctor’s, so unfamiliarly sterile and clean.
The night has plummeted around the table and settled. The woman had discreetly set the small, flickering iron lanterns, the shadows teething at the light. Cute. “From Morocco,” she explains, looking at you and smiling. Wrinkles web out around her eyes like echoes. Your wife is younger.
You suddenly realize that Anthony is due soon be a grandfather. Another dimension slides away.
In a sudden moment of clarity, you realize you are living a moment in a movie.
The wife excuses herself, slipping into the kitchen. She leans against the counter and moves along it mechanically. Begins to wash the dishes, looking out at the dark hills through the window. Moves her hands in smooth, even circles across the white plates.
You and Anthony speak German. Eventually you become conscious of time, of age, of manners. Slowly, like waking, you leave.
You drive through the silent American suburbs. The houses like people, with long yellow eyes and visions that spiral in and through them—flicker, shut, snap up, fading away behind you. Remembering the first time you ever rented a car deep in the heart of America. When your sweat didn’t bother you. This small silver car is scentless and you feel huge and then you don’t, are another anonymous seamless grey part, swiftly moving across the landscape.
Everything is rinsed in moonlight. Figures and objects look softer, like they are bowing. You drive and as you drive you vaguely get the sensation that you are wrapping something, as though this car and this motion were a ribbon, going around, along and over this town in a package. You consider playing the radio, but you don’t, and suddenly think about the enormity of airplanes and are overwhelmed.
The rise and fall of the familiar houses, the loom and drop of the familiar roads. They remind you of something. They are breathing, like you are, closing their eyes, taking in the dark. You pass them. In your mind’s eye, your childhood is playing, flickering like a flame, rolling over you like a teardrop. The American houses fall around you, drapes over women’s curved bodies and like a zipper sailing through the horizon you are as silver and quiet as your vehicle. Dull and small, worn leather—but these things are behind you, at your rear, you are steering, you do not look at them, you do not even look at the wheel.
When you pull into the hotel, you feel like getting up slowly and instead sit there for a moment, the engine running. You feel like the Titanic. You shut off the engine, go inside.