Wash That …Right out of My Hair

Bluesy opened the car door and peered inside, reaching to button my blouse, his cold fingers accidentally touching the already well-chilled skin above my sternum. I could have, indeed should have, batted him away but I was exhausted and just wanted him gone.

He fumbled with a pretty opalescent button as small as a sequin, and as thin, muttering “Lord almighty,” as he attempted to insert it into an equally small opening. The button edge weaseled into a minuscule fissure on the tip of his thumb. I closed my eyes pleased my blouse inflicted the pain I couldn’t. I held the image of it stuck in his thumb, hovering above my chest, blood rising warm from its travels from his heart, releasing a drop on the surface of my skin, where it sat, unable to go further. Maybe survival was possible if I just sat still until he left.

His hair dropped over my forehead and I smelled the factory of his body and his gut-recycled dinner, his mouth a smokestack and me an olfactory mistake. He’d smelled harmless fun – I think it was my shampoo. Herbal Essences would be happy when I wrote and told them I’d used their Passion Flower and Rice Milk product, a welcoming scent boosted by my pulse. The next thing I knew the likes of Bluesy had invited himself over for a steaming cup of tea and a few episodes of Breaking Bad , and before Jesse and Walt had finished cooking their first batch of meth I was flat on my back wondering how many kernels I could count in my popcorn ceiling before he’d leave. I cursed my mucous membranes, my lack of control, Bluesy’s intrusion.

We lasted 28 days. Thank God it wasn’t a leap year.

“It’s minus 30 out there, February, can you give me a lift home?”

Yes, my name is February. My parents thought it a romantic moniker, it being the month of my conception, an ovulatory cycle of snow bound cuddles and cozy fires – but I hated it. It is a bottomless well of cold, a dory adrift in the North Atlantic without an oar or a rudder or a bailing bucket. Here I was, February in February, like a frozen daiquiri on an Antarctic cruise, half dressed in my car trying to get rid of Bluesy.

He finished the job. I sniffed, sucked in the snot that drained from my nose and caught a whiff of Tide Clean.

“God, I love February,” he said as he kissed me goodbye.

I examined his work. He’d married the button to the wrong hole and my blouse was askew but it was over. Bluesy was gone, my heart buttoned up, safe for another year. No doubt he’d be back again to continue his work. On my way home, I stopped by WalMart to pick up some new shampoo and went with “Colour Me Happy”.

 

 

 

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Irritable Vowels

Blame the lack of a consonant
for the vowel’s incontinence,
her violent and windy fury
panicking in a hurry
to escape the gate of teeth,
speak louder than a squeak,
prove she is more than an airy twit,
that words mean more than shit.

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Ahab’s Mate

A cup, a sleeve, a siren song scent, I
pick her up, outbound, spend too much – a tall
extra-hot, double-shot made sufferable
“because we care about our planet”. We
sail on, addicted, believe in her tale,
and culpable, gulp her mythology.
With paper-thin desire, I stare into
green-haloed, star-crowned, green eyes, lips, hair. She
surfs lazy brown, bony, corrugated waves
environmentally aware. We skim
the sky, a flat white winter foams below,
a strawberry frappuccino dawn blooms.
Maybe “Time and tide flow wide” but I fear
this convenient relationship is doomed.

(Posted for Bjorn’s dVerse invitation for Handbook of Forms.  We were invited to write a sonnet.  Here is the link. Poetry Forms – The sonnet )

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Nuclear Power – by Melissa Ballard

 

Leon

A writing mentor, Richard Taylor, said recently “What do you do with the shit in your head if you don’t write? Hit a supersize bag of cheetos and a litre of Coke?”  So many reasons to write. Here’s one of my favourites –

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. – Joan Didion

 

Or how about this from a great Canadian writer:

I’m concerned about the unknowability of other people. – Carol Shields

I can guess why my friend, Melissa Ballard, wrote this story. See if you can, too. Whatever drives Melissa, I’m grateful for her beautiful non-fiction stories and exploration of events and people in her life. She finds the universal in the particular as you’ll read in her latest story in Belt Magazine. I hope you like it as much as I did.

 

 

A Shot at Redemption

I wake to my mother’s black and white image every day. Her photo hangs over my dresser and she stares directly at me. Its one of those photos where the eyes follow you. My husband has never objected to the location of the photo or that her gaze is focused on our bed. Perhaps its because she is very beautiful and serene.

Judging from the hairstyle and clothes, the photo was probably taken around 1940. She looks like a big city gal which belies her rural Midwest roots. I wonder if it was taken while she lived in Chicago where she finally settled down after years trailing her Dad in the Dirty Thirties as he looked for work.

Propped in my bed with the dog snoring beside me, cozy in a nest of pillows and books, we loll in soft grey light. A squirrel skitters across the roof and I tense, hoping he doesn’t fall down the chimney as happened to one of his brethren on Boxing Day. As I hold my breath, I hear my mother’s voice. Continue reading

Fear of Authenticity

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Christmas morning – Authentic dog and snow

“If I brought my authentic self to work, I’d be fired.” This was the most authentic thing I said in the 2.5 hour long discussion my employer held on the new corporate values. My authentic self is quick-tempered, opinionated, potty-mouthed, and arrogant. These are not highly prized attributes for an underling and certainly, during a corporate group-think values session, I was not about to expose my true self. Continue reading

A Pagan’s Creed

I believe in big trees
Douglas firs, maples, white pine
rooted in damp earth, fertile,
abundant deep breathers,
sweepers and cleaners
of air.

I believe in one swaddling sky
the only sky above me,
universal, maternal, fragile
revealing light,
blue infinity,
eternity.

Misbegotten, I became a lover of you
and your children, rain and sun.
Through sky and earth I know
my body, spirit, mind live
here and only
here.

You whittled me, made me fit,
gave me space to be,
to crucify and bury worry,
grow hope repeatedly,
a seedling, sapling, fledgling
being.

I look forward to my resurrection
born anew as a tree,
where I exhale for you
and pray this earthly heaven continues
despite our sins and trespasses
against you.

I believe in big trees,
earth, sky – and her children
sun and
rain.

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Bespoke

In 1981, I owned two pairs of corduroy pants, four hand-knit sweaters made by my mother, a pair of Adidas running shoes with a loose heel that slapped my foot as I walked, and two dresses I sewed using material found in remnant bins of fabric stores. That year, I shifted my job hunt from the careers section of the Ottawa Citizen to the classifieds. An English Literature degree had not guaranteed entry into any work I aspired to and I needed a job. I borrowed a jacket, a blouse, and a pair of shoes that blistered my baby toes for interviews. I landed a job as a secretary with the Canadian Construction Association. At 24, my real education began. Continue reading