Thursday, April 27, 2006

Please Undo Me


Someone had brought a diaper pail full of rattlesnakes over to the house again -- I don’t know how many because I ran to my bedroom and slammed the door. This was in 1976, and I was five years old and wishing that I was Nadia Comenici, scoring those perfect tens and never smiling, not even when her creepy fat-ass coach Bela picked her up and twirled her like a little doll over his head. Her life seemed good -- she’d do her thing, risk it all, and walk away.

I bet Nadia never had to deal with poisonous vipers. I hated snakes and had a stomach ulcer to prove it, diagnosed by one Dr. Kumar. I can still see his office, the chart of the human body, a pain scale, one being a smiley face, ten a frownie. I was a frownie because my mother was obsessed with snakes and made them into decorations, shaping their frozen bodies into artful poses and coating them with clear-cast, the smell of acetone all over the house. Much like the Bluebell Ice-cream slogan -- We eat all we can and sell the rest!, our house was the main repository for these creations and every spring and summer, our freezers were littered with pickle jars containing tarantulas, snakes, scorpions, and the occasional butterfly.

The week before, a big old boy named Garland brought a five foot rattlesnake on a string leash that he’d fashioned himself. I couldn’t imagine how he’d slipped it over the snake’s head without getting bit. Dumb people were lucky. My mother said that by way of explanation. Garland didn’t know that a snake that size was useless for my mother’s purposes. If they got too big, they were harder to handle and tended to explode in the acetone wash. My mother managed to coax the snake into our deep freeze (located in the garage) and place him in the wire drawer at the bottom. It didn’t die right away, of course. They never do at that size. It hibernated underneath the frozen loaves of Wonder Bread, its movements slowing way down until they became imperceptible, dead except for the eyes that told me, when I worked up my courage to peek inside, that it might still be alive.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Some people will tell you that suffering is good for your character. You're free to believe anything." Raymond Carver

Please Undo Me

1 shot of whiskey
1 splash of sweet and sour
1 trace of tabasco sauce

To be served as a shot with a lime garnish


Benedictions and Maledictions

First published in Out of Line

Beauty and the Beast

You eat and think, I’m still hungry
even though you’ve finished your
plate. It takes twenty minutes
for the brain to register fullness so
you wait for a feeling that never comes.
You get ready to go out in a dress
that most others could only dream
of wearing, take to the streets, skin
as thin as a Chinese lantern, holding
the shadows that others cast. It is
not so difficult to be anything –
the beloved, the not-so-beloved,
the doctor who says, there’s nothing
more to be done. Love is a many
splendored thing, except when you’re
involved. One thing becomes another
without warning, and you are left
with the grade-school hearts fluttering,
mandatory Valentines from everyone,
most of which end up in the trash.

3 comments:

cindy said...

Michelle,

love the poem, the diaper pail/rattlesnake, the beauty. And you!

xo
Cindy, always!

Paul said...

Hey M,

pain scale. wow. I'm feeling frownie myself this morning. Great stuff like always.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful beyond compare!