He often asked her questions she didn’t know the answers to.
Lucy was never bothered by this before. She assumed
stray question marks floated in her blood. But now,
she was older, and things needed answering.
His questions mostly arose in bed. She would stay quiet,
careful not to turn away or look him in the eye;
instead, she’d sigh, gently rest her hand in the concave
of her stomach and remember a time
when boys didn’t matter as much.
Her grandmother always told her to be patient
with these things, to flesh them out. Look at these honey,
she’d say, pointing to the lumped creases on her forehead,
these are from the men in my life who said
complex things with simple actions.
Then she’d chop her shallots and push them into the broth
that’d be, naturally, simmering on the stove.
Her grandmother always imparted wisdom over soup,
or whiskey, because both will cure what ails you.
Lucy never did know the difference between complex
and simple things. And though, she had her grandmother’s recipes,
she could not press enough garlic to make soup;
the smell was too strong for her in the mornings.
So she drank whiskey instead to kill the questions.
Dreams Die Easy in the Desert
Clotheslines are always full in Jerome, her mother told her as she clipped the last piece of laundry, upside-down, onto the line; the sun here can fry an egg and dry cotton like no place I’ve ever been. Emele was not impressed by this; she thought her mother was grasping at straws. The yellowed tourist pamphlets laid out on their kitchen table said Jerome was a copper mining town and stated, in bold, that it was once the FOURTH largest city in the Arizona Territory. The locals called Jerome the lay-away to heaven. The neighbors told her she could do great things from there; after all, they’d say, your mother won the town prize for best cobbler and keeps a very tidy home. Emele had never heard such encouragement before moving to the desert. She was suspect of it; even her Daddy, with his toothy grin, never told her she could bake a pie or be President. He was just a turn-around trucker, as he liked to call it, hauling cold-pressed jerky across the mid-West. He rarely came back to Jerome but for sex and washing; at least that’s what she overheard her mother saying while cracking eggs one morning. Her mother never raised her voice, but Emele knew what it meant when she saw egg shells left on the counter.
Syrica got her name from flowers. Stamp-based acid and a milkweed allergy inspired me, her father said, and your name was born. It was the 60s. Her father described himself as a conscious writer, an apathetic activist. He idolized Bernie Benson. Her mother was a poet homemaker whose claim to fame was her free verse and chili lasagna (which had won a red ribbon at the Pine Valley Festival). Syrica got under their feet.
Her father said she did interesting things. He knew clashing colors matched in her mind, she wore brown and turquoise regularly, and that she liked chai because it tasted like Christmas. He knew she loved wool gloves because they held the scent of moth balls and stale wood. He glanced at her paintings now and again; but, he never wrote about her.
Don't subject yourself, he told her. Subject myself to what? Art.
Christina Thatcher holds an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University. Her work has appeared in London Magazine, Neon, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and other fine places. She is working on her first collection of short stories and attempting to order her poems into a respectable chapbook. Follow Christina @writetoempower.
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