Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Women laughing alone with salad

Women Laughing Alone With Salad

By Edith Zimmerman | January 3, 2011

From The Hairpin, January 3, 2011

The pills I took were a bad idea

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

T. S. Eliot

The wishbone

Today I had the thought,
Do not, do not, on pain of freaking death, look backward,
Look backward over your shoulder at anything that you
Have done or that has transpired,
Because you will have one of two reactions:
You will hate what you have done, who you were, all the 
You have made, all the chances not taken,
Or else you will so love the times that were sweet 
Heady gardens of the mind,
That you will ache for those times and die inside,
Knowing they will never return.

Today I had that knowledge, but did I absorb it?

I never knew when things were crowning anyway,
When moments were sublime,
For they slid out from under me even as I experienced them.
Far from trusting that these moments would come again,
Which they would not,
I tried to seize them, to keep them close, but they only 
changed form
In some incredible miracle from solid to liquid
A collapsing snow castle.

My life has been a road steadily pulled out from under me
By some unseen hands
And I’ve had to run to keep up with it
To keep from falling on my ass
Or hitting the back of my head.
Run, run, fucking run.

My life has been some sort of awful conundrum,
An impenetrable puzzle that the newspaper
Forgot to publish the answer to,
With too many gifts of the wrong sort, things I could
Never share because I was never given the chance:
No, not never, for I tasted of the thing I wanted most,
Or thought I wanted most,
Like a tongue on powdered sugar.

Births slingshot into nine-year birthday parties,
And I see the infant I watched slide into the doctor’s hands
Blowing out her nine candles,
Looking about fourteen years old,
Her hair up, her eyes knowing,
Her smile splitting my heart. She looks nothing
Like me or my side of the family,
And the Spanish blood that lurks several
Generations back is clear in her almond-eyed,
Almost Castilian beauty.
It can’t get any better, God won’t let it,
In fact God is the reason for all this:
I want to say, take me
NOW so I don’t have to see any more,
So that I will not be dragged to the awful breaking point,
The point of disaster that I know is coming
If I don’t get out of here soon.

This puppet dance amuses me,
Though the first time I saw it in that odd old movie
It tore me to pieces.
I forgot to mention in the labels
That the music is by Bartok
Who knew a thing or two about horror.
I could say something now about puppets and strings,
But I know it would be awful.

I am in a labyrinth, somewhere in the middle so that
It is possible to move in any direction
And be equally lost. I hit
Dead end after dead end, the board
Tilted nastily so that the little silver ball
Keeps on dropping through the holes.

I don’t want to read any more biographies,
Don’t want to read about
How lavishly gifted people
Threw everything away with both hands
Because I don’t know what these things are
Supposed to do for us anyway,
Inspire us,
Inspire revulsion or pity
Or embarrassment or discouragement or what?

I am told to try and try. But it turns out
That this is what they tell people anyway, it’s kind of
A form letter of advice,
And I am the only one who pays attention to it.
It has become clear to me
Just today,  just this minute
That my efforts are an embarrassment to everyone
Because they didn’t really mean I SHOULD try –
It is the best way to get rid of me quickly
With no sticky feelings involved
Or perhaps it makes them feel better,
Which is what apology is really all about,
It has nothing to do with the wounded party,
Who smugly assumes the person is truly contrite.

I have a certain  fascination for divination and
Splintery snaps of the wishbone
Dried on top of the fridge for months
Yielding only the dessicated remains of a turkey or duck
Knowing none of this ever comes true,
That there is in fact no special protection,
No amulet that holds off disaster,
And the realization is strong, and inspires all sorts of
Awful visions:
Dancing along the edge of the Skytrain platform
Feeling a little woozy
As if the couple of pills I just took
Might after all have been a bad idea.