Thursday, July 29, 2010

Unanchored


Prompt: excerpt from Robert Hass' "Sonnet"
...
He has loved her voice and listens with attention
to every modulation of its tone. Knowing
it intimately. Not knowing what he wants
from the sound of it, from the tendered civility.
He studies, out the window, the seed shapes
of the broken pods of ornamental trees.
The kind that grow in everyone’s garden, that no one
but horticulturists can name...



We met in a bar. A local band thrusted their pelvises, their guitars, their melodies into the sticky, heavy air. Nudging through the crowd, I would catch some glances and throw them away. My beer was in a can. As my friends cocked their heads toward men, they laughed with purpose. One adjusted her shirt, then bra strap. My beer warmed between my hands. I didn't want to be there.

*****

I never wanted to be married. All I knew of love was a long-standing grudge. The calculated responses to triggering comments. The heavy silence that filled the house like thick, toxic smoke. I flinched at tones and hid behind corners, waiting for something to give. I saw a marriage confining the very thing it served to celebrate--love--until it paced its cage with crazed, explosive furor. And yet, I yearned for that love. This dying mirage. I dissolved many years into a sort of mourning. At night, of course, and lonely times.

I got by on 80's movies and 90's TV shows, my emotional masturbation. A generation bred for impossible, nauseating romance, we--I--silently and casually worshiped that kind of love. The boombox to the window. The quiet brooding. The fantastic impossibility of it all. It's no wonder I was so depressed.

*****

We met on a floating bar. A docked boat. It wasn't going anywhere. Occasional waves had me grabbing for steady footing. But it never got worse than that. It's like I said; the boat wasn't going anywhere. I found an empty spot against the railing and rested my elbow upon it. It was quieter, I thought. Fewer disembodied hands jabbing for drinks. Fewer prying faces with heavy smirks. I held to the metal piping that kept the boat from bursting apart. I wasn't going anywhere.

*****

I remember screaming. And I remember the pain. I suppose there must have been some blood. Beyond this, I only remember that my dark underwear showed through the white institutional pants. I should have felt embarrassment. I should have felt something. But I didn't.

I sat in a circle and looked at the blank stares. One face, full of wrinkles, folding over itself, trying to disappear. Another, features blurred by shadows and wispy hair--a rain puddle filling with gray and stretching its boarders across a dusty road. But yet another, smooth and pale, beckoned me. There was something salvageable here. A place where things might grow.

*****

He approached with a smile, his brow wet with the air, the music, and the water on which we balanced. I smiled. My friends were a circle, some competing and others wary. He fumbled his opening line. But who could blame him? He was meeting his wife for the first time. Right there. When the air was bursting with music, and voices were clamoring to be heard, while the gentle, dark water echoed the din.

*****

I had been on this path of leisure, a whitewashed discovery. But it was overgrown and without destination. Barbed vines and thick, sinking moss. Nothing ornamental. Nothing serene. There was no love here. Even the trees dropped their pods with abandon, staking claim on that which they did not know. Yet I was here. Surely I was a pioneer. There was nothing to guide me, to contain me, to tell me to stop, other than nature.
When I paused to looked down at my footing, I saw the reflective stripe on the pavement glittering through the hearty weeds. I'd been following it all along. You helped me to see this. You helped me to see.

*****

We met at night. On a boat. It was anchored, but I could feel a strength building with each tug of the ropes. It was thrusting, pulling away from the safe harbor. I reached for his hand.




11 comments:

  1. I love "calculated responses to triggering comments" - I thought of a million times I've seen that when I read it.

    Love your non-funny writing, Ms. Over-achiever.

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  2. HOLY SHIT, THAT'S WHAT YOU'VE BEEN KEEPING FROM US????

    I like your humor writing...and this is just as FAN-FRICKIN-TASTIC!

    wow. *chin on desk*

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  3. I'm speechless. This is unbelievable writing. I mean... gosh... I actually read it all, which, I gotta be honest with you, I don't usually do when bloggers venture into this sort of writing.

    The part about never wanting to marry?

    "The heavy silence that filled the house like thick, toxic smoke. I flinched at tones and hid behind corners, waiting for something to give."

    I mean, you just summed up my childhood with two sentences. That's talent. You need to, have to, better keep up with this new endeavor. I want more. Bravo.

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  4. There are some fantastic sentences in this, really quite a departure. I'm interested to see what comes next.

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  5. this is wonderful!!! a definite departure but maybe its more of a detour. it seems less permeanant to think of it that way. really excellent writing. beautiful story. i think once i've stopped spazzing over the events of the coming week ill give it a shot though i dont know if ill be able to pull it off quite like you did.

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  6. LGBG: Thanks mommma. I *am* an overachiever. How'd you guess?

    SM: Thanks lady :) Between you and OBG, I actually got a bit teary over here. Well, it's been a stressful morning.

    OBG: Thank you. Really. Means a whole lot to me.

    London: I thank you as well. I'm a bit rusty for sure, but we'll see where this goes.

    steff: Yeah, definitely a detour. I won't be writing heavy shit like this every day. I'll be back in those white pants. Heh. And I really hope you'll try it out. Part of the excitement for me is to see I'm not doing it alone and to learn from other people's styles!

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  7. If I'm being honest, I didn't really understand what was going on...or if I was supposed to?

    However, there were some really beautiful parts that I enjoyed. I particularly loved this:

    "I got by on 80's movies and 90's TV shows, my emotional masturbation. A generation bred for impossible, nauseating romance, we--I--silently and casually worshiped that kind of love. The boombox to the window. The quiet brooding. The fantastic impossibility of it all. It's no wonder I was so depressed."

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  8. OWO: Haha. I appreciate the feedback! To answer your question, I'd say yes--mostly. My writing style tends to be more postmodern/abstract/surreal so maybe that's what threw you. It's not for everyone. That said, I am rusty, and I think this piece is a bit overwritten. I'll find the balance soon enough :)

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  9. Damn. That's some fancy language.

    Look at you, getting all poetical wordsie and shit.

    Very nice.

    Pretty sure you've just given me my period.

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  10. I would have to call your first Product of Silence outing quite the success.

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  11. The real life sonnet:

    "Shes nagging again, do I have to listen to this whining nasally nagging. It not like I've not heard this before. I haven't got a bloody clue what she's on about. Bored, he starts looking out of the window, ooohhh that tree looks nice. I remember getting that from the garden centre down the road but I'll be fucked if I can remember what it's called."

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