Monday, October 22, 2007

Food You Don't Touch

You fall in love, preferably in a place where the light is kind, where you can't see the future with all its impossibly steep switchbacks that will leave you gasping for breath. There should be drinks that you gulp and food that you don't touch. You should be wearing something beautiful for the date and well, it doesn't really matter what he wears, he looks good in everything. You should not talk about your exes, not right away. Make no mistake -- they are in this story as well, hungry ghosts dying to make their presence known. When asked why you broke up, you might say, We were just such different people instead of he fucked my best friend and told me the night before my birthday when I had the flu. After all, this is your narrative now. At least you believe it is and that's all that matters.

Some culture leave food out for dead people at certain times of year. As a child I once knew a man who set a place for his dead wife and scooped a modest amount of food onto her plate every night (even in the afterlife he assumed she'd still be on a diet). And someone who bought her dead son gifts every Christmas, scores of them after he'd died in a car accident coming home for a visit. A little obsessed with death myself, I found these gestures touching and sad. And then I fell in love and understood. You leave the date and you know, you know that something will happen; your life will change. And you long for the old life and long for the new and you find yourself doing a post-mortem on the past, scanning it for clues, like old newspapers microfiche, one headline after another. You feel you're getting closer to something, to some sort of saving knowledge. And you stay for a very long time until you become a ghost, and you hope someone sets out some food and presents for you even if you aren't in any position to enjoy them.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"In love there are two things - bodies and words." Joyce Carol Oates

Cocktail Hour
Grouchie's Afternoon Cocktail!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!


Rodney Dangerfield said...

Looks like I got back from the Detroit marathon just in time. Lot of food for thought there. No period in Dr Pepper! if you know what I mean.

Andrew Warhola said...

We're just as excited as you, Michelle, about the opening of "The Holy Pear." I'm told there is also a literary connection to this piece. Wow.

Brian in Mpls said...

Every year for the past 20 years I have left a present on my fathers grave for fathers day.

Although I am torn if this act heals or is simply a reminder of a piece that is missing and an excuse for unused potential.

Whitey the Bear said...

I am deeply honored and touched by your kind consideration, Michelle. Happy belated Sweetest Day!--Whitey

Ropinator said...

They give food to death because their ghost is going to eat it according to the myth but I don't know in which culture.

Cheri said...

I love the JCO quote. The woman is amazing!

I have one Halloween memory that I'll never forget. I was in the process of breaking up with a guy and we were spending Halloween together on his block, taking his brother around who was handicapped. It was unseasonably warm, in the mid 80s even at 8pm, and soon after the children went inside to eat their treasures we played some touch football with other adults in the neighborhood. Well, my ex decided it would be fun to tackle me even though I was on his team. Too easily did he do so. He ended up flipping me over his shoulders and I landed on my head, my neck bending underneath me in an almost unnatural way. Everyone gasped together when I went down and didn't come back up. He thought that he had killed me. Later at the hospital it turned out that he had only sprained my neck, severely, and the nurses stared at him with contempt in their eyes. I wouldn't recognize this look until later when I'd be raped and see it in my own eyes in the mirror.

the walking man said...

Leave no food nor presents, I'll use my own words and have no use for this body. Forget my name and my memory and this will be love when I finally sleep among the dead including the dead past that was someones life that no longer matters.

Paul said...


Dem Soldier said...

Talking about my exes is all I

My older now married sister does go and visit her old husband grave every year and she does leave gifts/food/water.

eric1313 said...

I could use some food left out, if TWM doesn't want it.

The hypothetical breakup line is one of your best ones I've ever seen. Hope you use it sometime in a story.

Peace and everything else good.

And btw, I just got back from the detroit marathon, too. Isn't that
impressive? Yeah, I thought not...

Susan Miller said...

"After all, this is your narrative now. At least you believe it is and that's all that matters."

You are so brilliant!

Pythia3 said...

Michelle, I forgot to tell you that I love that table pictured in yesterday's post!

I love this post - LOVE IT!

"You fall in love, preferably in a place where the light is kind, where you can't see the future..."

That line is too true for my own good. What an opening line!

Years ago I wrote a poem about a ghost of his past... call yourself immune
coughing on your words
hiding your Petri dish...

Some ghosts should be fed while others should be exorcised.


Charles Gramlich said...

Great food for thought here. I especially like the point about knowing your life is going to change and longing both for the old life and the new. Sometimes it seems we are always transitioning.