She sublet her apartment and set her toothbrush next to his. That lasted for a week. She bought a blue ceramic bathroom set. “To match your eyes,” she told him. There were other changes. She left her clothes strewn on the floor after showering. She made fresh brownies and left them on the kitchen table. Her smell clung to his clothes all the time instead of just occasionally. He breathed it in when he was patrolling the streets, responding to domestic disputes and bringing homeless people into shelters. The smell of her made some things easier. So did the chocolate.
When Grant first proposed, Kat was sweaty, her dark hair disheveled in ringlets around her shoulders after dancing to salsas and bent back tangos. Laughing, they stumbled to her place. She fetched sparkling water. He pulled out the velvet ring box from his pocket and set it in the middle of Kat’s bamboo coffee table.
She placed glasses on either side of the box as if it weren’t there. As if it had always been there. She stroked his broad shoulders and said, “You don’t know me well enough.” He said, “That’s my problem to solve. And what better way.”
There’s less light in the morning, more days when you pile on sweaters, two maybe three in lieu of turning up the thermostat. A chill in the air. Literally and figuratively. Bread dough rises slower than in summer. Tempers flare. Violence on the border, in the embassies, in my kitchen where I shout, “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” at the suggestion that we must come together today.
Why today? Why not two years ago? For what? So Lucy can pull the football away again? All of us, Charlie Browns. Decent folk. Taken advantage of once too often. Now go vote.
The trees stay green for a short time after the apples come in. The orchard smells like fall and looks like Christmas. Orbs, ranging the rainbow almost to blue, taste like tart flowing saliva sparks in your mouth. Fruit hangs on gnarly boughs and sometimes ripens to the soft stage because the leaves hide it, the two elements conspiring to stay joined, maybe for dark purposes.
By November, it’s time to end things. Maybe they have an argument. The tree strips naked in the space of less than a month. Bruised yellow apples, good for applesauce, wait for Hanukkah harvest.
I hold my five year old’s hand and say, “Surprise me.” Eyes closed, remembering a stubbed toe, my bare feet inch forward expecting Matchbox cars left on the carpet.
Though I can’t see, I can feel the closeness of a hall. Maybe it leads to the playroom where the floor is littered with Legos, Brios, and baby dolls having tea next to stuffed bears. “You can open your eyes, Mama.” The space is neat, the blocks stacked in their chest, the animals lounging on shelves. Picnic’s black button nose glints white. Jaimie holds him tight and says, “We cleaned up.”
“Bright and breezy, ham and cheesy,”1 I says to him. Big fellow he were. Blimey! He were a bit Mum and Dad2. So I steps away. He’s talking with a Gooseberry Puddin’3, a right attractive bird. She’s Toby Tugging4 a suitcase and he’s going all Wayne Rooney5 on her. He says, “Come back and Jabberwok6.” If only he’d see how it looks. Needs a ‘Enry7. A big, fat doobie. Might calm him some. Lor’ luv a duck. Kept i’ ter meself. Bear’s Paw8 ‘e were a cop. Nuff said.
7 Marijuana (an eighth)
8 I saw
At the moment the latest Supreme Court nominee took the oath of office, Lady Liberty felt a hand grope her under the tattered robes of democracy she wore for the occasion. It was a small hand. A hand practiced at conspiracy, graft and corruption.
In front of the assembled crowd, she began to crumble. Her head fell off. Then her arms. The concrete at the foundations of her feet turned to sand. The audience morphed into animal figures that resembled the twisted cubes of pain and fear in Picasso’s Guernica. When the onlookers appeared in grayscale, America’s destruction was complete.