Thursday, January 24, 2013

how long ago, it seems, i started out


Family is sometimes a question.
In these rare cases
my mother is the answer--my mother
with her pesto chicken pumpkin
My mother
dainty and perfumed as a soft,
gloved hand. My mother
so dear and lovely
looking out of the window at the weather
then telling Nessa:
Put your sweater on or else the cold
will catch you! It doesn’t happen
that way--I wanted to say,
stooped over cereal, counting milk
bubbles, to make sure I could still
count. I had lost it all
so many years ago--but I lost
the number of years
and now I never glance back. This
is the only form of time travel
I know:
Looking out for a moment unto
the thin fog and feeling
an eye of light, a clean origami
flower, unfold inside me
and present itself as
Family, the answer to that
long, sweeping question:
Mother? Family.
That is all I know.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Veruggia


              In Veruggia the houses resemble tin boxes--the ones that often carry tea leaves--and they are arranged cleanly along the streets, each a different color.  There are thick-waisted palm trees and the clouds are ironed flat against the sky. When I first arrived it was late afternoon and the sky flaunted a gold dust hue. I felt light and hollow, almost as if I could suddenly float away. The nearby fried-fish smells, huddled with the scent of hot, splattering oil, made me feel a little dizzy and peculiar. Then there were the ripe, bright smells of blooming flowers and the less pleasant stench of dog shit smattered on the sidewalk and car exhaust trailing around street corners.            
I walked until I found myself atop a squelchy knob of land that overlooked the pale pink ocean. The earth beneath my feet felt porous and I soon discovered that it oozed ocean water. From afar, the ocean had resembled a melted gumdrop, and upon moving closer, I discovered that its pink color was the result of several million squirming shrimp. By now the sky had purpled and the temperature settled into a firm chill. I watched a flock of birds fly past until they resembled a scatter of peppercorns across the sky. Then I noticed a mother and her child sitting upon a bench and blowing bubbles through a bubble wand. There was something strangely peaceful about the bubbles, which moved so slowly that they almost seemed frozen in place. It was then that I remembered how I first arrived.            
It had been an oppressively warm day, so I had decided to leave my house and indulge in a short walk. As I walked, the oily air slid around my elbows and greased my fingertips. I had thought, mistakenly, that the outside temperature would be cooler but I soon discovered otherwise. I quickly began to feel thirsty, and just when I thought I could no longer withstand my thirst, I came upon a water fountain in the middle of a park. It was smooth and silver. I placed one finger upon its cool, slippery rim and felt refreshed. Then, before I even swallowed a slurp of water I saw the bubble suspended perfectly above my nose. It was so beautiful that I found myself instantly distracted. I searched a moment for its source, but my gaze fell too soon upon its shimmer, its swirl of greens and blues.  Then, not a second later, I arrived in Veruggia.
I pondered the possibility of Veruggia being a world within a bubble. It seemed like the only explanation that would make sense, so I decided to adopt the theory in place of the others that had begun to take shape inside my mind. I then wondered what might happen if the bubble were to suddenly burst. The prospect only filled me with a watery discomfort so I decided to walk again among the streets and relish the green and yellow of the buildings. It was then that I came across the young girl and her glittery bubble wand. She was seated on the porch of a house that I did not remember from before. It was painted lavender and there was just one window, at the top, and it was left slightly open.
Veruggia is most beautiful in the falling moments before sunset. I decided this while studying the hills in the distance, speckled with smudges of pink. Then, of course, the sky, which boasted a cornucopia of rich color. A rare breeze suddenly plucked a bubble from its place and drew it towards where I stood. I swiveled around, in search of the young girl, but did not find her. Instead, I suddenly felt weightless, like my insides had whizzed away. Then it ended as quickly as it had began.  I stood, once again, before the water fountain and inside the park. The world around me was submitting to its own slow darkness and the park was nearly empty of all people. I stepped forward and decided to continue my journey back home.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

disco ball recollections

I don’t like thinking of all that I will miss—the dance, as silly as it might be, with balloons bobbing, skimming the ceiling then dropping a moment before rising up again; and the streamers, plastic and shiny, stretching your face into a fish-like reflection; and the brownies too sweet, and too crispy-edged; the punch, never enough, as if you were meant to find its bowl, each time, empty, with only a warm slurp of liquid left. And the music, every song snapped from the top 40, the songs too familiar and too ordinary to inspire a certain rhythm to steal your feet and sway you into motion. But then, of course, there would be you. I envision how you might look. The image cuts quiet slivers from my heart and throws them into the wind. I want to find you, as clich├ęd as this sounds, bathed in the webby blue of those disco lights you hate, all the other dancers, crazy and sloppy and orbiting around, and you in the middle: that thin prick of light that gets me going through it all, that makes me whimper with a long-forgotten ease.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

To Ricky

To Ricky

You were thirteen-
And pulling past the library shelves.
The image unfolds, warm and precise,
of your round face
pale like the opal-moon
or an onion. And how chubby
your cheeks were, then.

Now, somewhere,
with a wife and children. I imagine
you slow-unraveling for work
when the sky feels dusty.
You might hurry
to conquer breakfast in the car:
an apple,
a moist smudge of banana.

There are some moments
that feel like the loose ends
of dreams: That library afternoon,
do you not remember?
As you drifted past,
a hot clip of sun
sifted through the open window
and illuminated your edges, so
like a delicate plink of light,
you hummed alive.

Meanwhile, I sat at a table
on the opposite side,
quivering wild with worries
that I can no longer
even remember.




Saturday, October 6, 2012

One morning my grandfather...

One morning my grandfather ate so much that his chair disappeared. It was a Sunday at the Pancake House, and my grandfather sat across from me with his fat pink cheeks quivering through speech. All the while I knew he was only thinking of eating and eating and eating. Breakfast finally arrived, and the waiter set before my grandfather eight sausages, thicker than his fingers and slippery with grease, and four crinkly twists of bacon, crunchy-edged and chewy with fat. Then there were four eggs, scrambled and glittery with salt, and two brick-slabs of toast, thick and soft with butter. My grandfather ate all of this and then, in between bites and in between gulps, he often found, mysteriously, a pancake-plunk on the left side of his plate. A sailing strawberry even managed to find his mouth, along with three gulps of chocolate milk. And so, by the end of the meal my grandfather had devoured so much food that he could no longer stand up. No, the chair had melded into his bottom like gum into its wrapper when you leave it on the dashboard of your car during a warm day. He left us with no choice, then, but to steal the restaurant chair.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I am certain that you have forgotten me
as I sit here in the center of this fat, floppy
bed and look out of the window that looks out unto
the pregnant clouds and the thin lines
of road. I occupy the edges of your memory, now:
The distant plop
of a spoon slipping into suds.
I am not
the bubbles that jewel your arm
and fingers, up to the puckered pink
of elbow
when your search
for the slippery
spoon
is complete. I am a faintness
growing fainter

the outline of a sound

Everything leaves you, in its own way

The time will come for me to let it go--
To let it all go gently drifting down
The sad expectations and dazzling hopes
To watch them all dissolve and then fade down
The time will come for me to sigh and say
No, in fact I did not think of you today
Or the day before the day before
I’ve let you leave me slowly, but for sure.

______________________________


In Yazd at my Aunt Pooran’s house I could never sleep with the mosquitoes puncturing holes into the nighttime quiet, so instead I told myself stories. All of that has left me now. My Aunt Pooran sold her house three summers ago and the mosquitoes don’t come anymore. Sometimes I wish they would. I got used to the bug spray smell and even now it welcomes back those memories, warm and soft-skinned in the light. I have learned: everyone leaves you in some way. My Aunt Pooran turned bitter after her husband died and in that way, she has left me. Still I think of her often. Especially today while standing in my room my ears quivered alive with a familiar sound: A mosquito, like a broken apostrophe, flitted noisily across the surface of the glassy air. Before, I would have fought it with my slipper. Now I barely flinch. It’s funny how the right memory can attach a quiet sweetness to even the most annoying of things. Mosquitoes: long summers at my Aunt Pooran’s house in Yazd. Now, neither the house nor the city exist. The government towed away most towns with its militia-men and guns and sacks of rotten blood. Everything leaves you, in its own way.