20130402

Sheila e. Black & Caleb Puckett


Another Domestic Drama

I.
It started with the coffee grinder. There was a speck on the underside rim like a dot that wouldn’t rub off without scratching the pristine black enameled surface. Then the mahogany coffee table in the living room had a scratch on one spindled leg. A dish cracked, a cup chipped, and one prong of the serving fork was bent. The magnification came later when the house holding these objects gradually changed as well. Paint on the chintzy red front door peeled all along the farthest edge from the stained brass hinges, and anyone coming up the walk usually tripped on the fake flat pavement stones the changing weather had caused to pop up. The front windows –one on either side of the door—trimmed black, looked at all who approached like the propped up eyes of a body on a mortician’s table. The more you looked at the details in the house and outside the house, the more these ordinary objects seemed to be speaking about the owners to any visitors who approached.

II.
The calla lilies must be cold today. Discover your fortune in a warm eddy of Ethiopian dregs before you drag the bags of mulch behind the house. It started with the stainless steel coffee grinder spotted with innumerable fingerprints. There was a stubborn speck on the rim. Your bid for removal became a little too temperate with the thought of scratching the pristine black enameled surface. Tread lightly around those dregs, sparky. Then the mahogany coffee table in the living room had a scratch on one spindled leg. Your shin aches from the bruise radiating like rosy fingered spawn. That almost sounded like blasphemy, you charlatan. Think again. Look again. A dish cracked, a cup chipped, and one prong of the serving fork is bent with what—heroic truculence? Oh, but the travesty of time renders every designer witless, right? The unbearable magnification inevitably comes later when the house holding these objects changes into a terrarium in an elementary classroom. Paint on the chintzy red front door peeled all along the farthest edge from the stained brass hinges, and anyone coming up the walk usually trips on the fake flat pavement stones the changing weather had caused to protrude into pouty cement lips. Models, fleshless as they are, must get cold even if they bow with some regularity before the navel stone. The front windows—one on either side of the door—are trimmed with black eyes. They watch the mortician working above them, admiring his precise knife work. A shovel is a blade. The calla lilies must be cold today.

III.
Cold calla lilies make for an uncomfortable bed if you’re napping. Thinking about blades on the other hand heats up any brain. The night would bring a transformation and the hunt would begin—lightning bugs. Glass jars—only tools needed. Blades—if the other team interfered. Mother had a nice rubber set with green handles–drama was everywhere. Even our man in the long black cloak—the costume of the evening (de rigeur?)—looked especially enticing tonight, although not to eat, more like as background for our plots and possibly the rising climactic finish when we cut the heads off the bugs and put them on our fingers. The door still stared back at me—much like that long ago ten year old self with the bloodthirsty outlook. The white calla lilies seemed to shiver just then.

IV.
The almanac explains how cold calla lilies make for an uncomfortable bed if you’re napping. No problem. Honey won’t do a darn dirt nap even as a part-time gig at the community theatre. Places. Places, everyone. Thinking about blades, on the other hand, heats up any brain riding. Left or right? The hand or hemisphere? Neither, see. We’re talking fences here. Cut to the chase, then. Scene: the night brings a transformation and the hunt begins—lightning bugs born from flower beds. Glass jars are the only tools needed, save for the rusty icepick for air holes. But you’ll pull a blade if the other team interferes with your dance routine, won’t you? It’s always a musical number with the 50s greasers, chief. Mother had a nice rubber set. How they bounced. Mother had a nice rubber set for snip-snip. Mother had a nice rubber set with green handles. Drama was everywhere in that hedge maze outside the Austrian neighbor’s house. Even his boarder in the long black cloak—Zorro of Zoloft, I suppose—wore a costume over his costume (de rigeur?). His silky folds looked especially enticing tonight as they snaked over his hidden grass skirt, although not from an edible standpoint, more like as background for our plots and possibly the rising climactic finish when we cut the heads off the bugs and put them on our fingers. Hello, science project. The door shrieked at me—much like that long ago ten year old self with the bloodthirsty outlook. The white calla lilies seemed to shiver just then. I wiped a smudge from the knob before leaving for the garage. My thumb mushroomed, suffocating my concave face in one swift twist. The calla lilies nodded.

V.
This terrarium’s got to go! This planetarium seems too rare! Are those tiny figures moving? Where’s the Zoloft? I left the door open. Now it’s closed. I yelled “fire” and broke the law. My speech’s freedom broken loose but a little depressed. My friend, Lily, says she never wanted to kill those bugs but lightning and light bathed us all and we loved our chaotic dreams. You science projects can go to West Texas. I got my memories, you got yours. And Mother, well she had a nice rubber set. And Dad, well Dad was one of a kind. The house imagined served us well. The fetid fig trees—we sold the fruit, the ripe plum trees, we ate them all, the dark basement, we hid our treasures. The mimosa swayed and swayed over the pockmarked yard where the ghosts of calla lilies hovered, waiting for a plot to resolve.




Sheila e. Black is an artist and writer living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She teaches creative writing workshops to the elderly and has been performing her prose poetry and experimental writing in and around Tulsa for several years. Black's poems have been published in Big Bridge, Sawbuck Online, The Texas Observer, BigCityLit, Haggard and Halloo in Austin, Tx., The Living Arts Press, Truck Online, and Caleb Puckett & Friends—In Mixed Company.


Caleb Puckett lives in Kansas. Some of his recent writing has appeared in On Barcelona and the Mad Hatters' Review. Puckett's latest book, Caleb Puckett & Friends—In Mixed Company, is available through mgv2>publishing. Caleb Puckett & Friends also features the work of five other poets, including Sheila e. Black and Mark Young.
 
 
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