Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Get Thee To Ello's...

Brilliant writer, Mom to Angus, and tickler-of-funny-bones everywhere, our dear Ello is tackling the serious subject of media sexualization of young girls with Dr. Gigi Durham, author of The Lolita Effect. Scoot on over to Ello's Place on Wednesday, May 28th, for a thoughtful discussion about this troubling cultural phenomenon.

If you don't, she might make you sleep on the floor. ;)

Monday, May 26, 2008

First Cut

[*Warning*: Human dissection described]

“You do the honors, Maddie," Rakesh said.

She weighed the scalpel in her hand. Its blade cut the light.

“I don’t really know what I’m doing . . . ”

Her lab goggles fogged. Three white forms hazed into ghosts.

“That’s okay. He’s dead.”

But I’m not.

Maddie licked her lips. Tasted fixative.

The scalpel sliced through the cheddar skin medial to the scapula. Easy. No blood.

Her hand stopped shaking at the third incision.

“Reflect the skin laterally to reveal the trapezius muscle,” Jeanine read from her nose. The formaldehyde claimed everything. Their hair. Sweat.

The salt of the tongue.

She pinched the skin flap between her fingers, and pulled. It resisted. The man had donated his body, but was stubborn about its secrets. She leaned back, squinting with effort.

And heard the dermis rip free.

Maddie caught herself on her heels. Yellow faschia drew into fibers, recalling the rubber cement she had played with as a child. The muscle underneath sat like expired meat.

“Like that?”

Freckles collared his neck. She could connect the dots, but the larger picture would elude her. A plastic bag concealed his face and hair, but Maddie knew he was a redhead from the growth on the mortised legs and arms. She tried to forget that a redhead has a lower threshold for pain.


“Perfect. You’re a pro, Maddie.”

She shrugged, but was pleased. She liked Rakesh. He wanted his doctor dream.

She wasn’t so sure. That bag—

“Now detach the trapezius from its origin at the superior nuchal line, and reflect it laterally,” Jeanine instructed.

The manual contributed to the ritual’s careful distance. A body is a universal country. Reproducible borders and flags. Except for the sexual organs. They’d have to look at a female cadaver when the time came.

Maddie coughed.

Her nose itched, too.

“It’s reflected,” she said.

Maddie handed off the muscle to Marcus, while the others scraped at the pearly scapula.

She lifted her goggles, searching for the clock. And counted the seconds until she might reach free air.

One . . . two . . . th--

"Awesome," Marcus cheered.


How many cuts until she nicked this dead man's heart?

“Maddie, check it out," said Rakesh, his teeth as brilliant as the scalpel. "Pretty wild, huh?”

The muscles of her face contracted into a smile. She replaced her goggles, her neck dipping toward the table.

Trying to accommodate this bag of her choosing.

Just breathe.

[Photo courtesy of Travis Rhoades]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Forget Me Not

When my spine is but a scar in the earth,
body broken of all toothsome need,
let some blood-germ of its longing
swamp white roots with this blue ballad

So when rigored beneath a bone moon,
my starry one might pluck a
hail-mary constellation,
inhale its light-years heat, and


[Thanks to my favorite blog couple for
recommending the film, Somewhere in Time.
Its music is theirs (and Rachmaninoff's). Photo of
forget-me-nots in my "movie"
courtesy of Pete Harlow.]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Elgar: Second Movement (Flight of the Hummingbird)

Part 1 is here

She had noted his backwards flight.

And softens her forward thrust.

Her mind disengages as the bow arm flirts and hovers like the wing of a hummingbird. The membranes of her muscle pulse across this movement’s petals and thorns, while not far below, darkness jaws. She relishes this suppleness from herself, and others. Athleticism rouses her from a digital bolero of play, and repeat.

Her heart is a pump.

Her heart. Is a pump.

Her heart—

She ran from the cottage until she reached the water’s edge, his baton a white flame in her fist. The afternoon heat marinated the cut grass, while the lake drank deep from the sun’s nectar. Spring is the season of miracles, someone had once told her. But all she believed in was the mud sucking at her toes, the cool breeze impaling her breast, before she thrashed away.

Positioning the baton between her teeth, she turned to confront him.

“Did you call her, Catherine?”

His color was high, his voice a broken string.

“Did you tell my wife about us?”

She spat out his stick in her hand.

“I did.”

He seized her by the shoulders, and shook. For a brief, ecstatic moment, she coveted his fury. Aiming the baton at his heart, she started to lunge.

But flesh is so fond of surrendering, even during a blood charge.

Her legs collapsed, and he sank into her like a man falling on his sword. She watched the baton sail from her hand, and find its measure of rest. She rested, too.

And the dandelions sloughed their seeds as two bodies swam up one another in a current of silence.

And the scent of lilac chloroformed the air.

And a bird dropped to earth, in search of sticks for a nest.

But she was deaf to earth and sense and time.

When her eyes opened, there were tears on her cheeks, though her own eyes were dry. The war drum in her chest reminded her, with its imperfect beat, that only death survives such sweet, terrible silence.

And so the woman who did not believe in miracles pushed her lover away. Cruel enough for him to remember his wife again. So far that his tears might swamp a lake.

She stood to track a bird with a baton in its beak.

Straining for it to conduct her in birdsong.

Her heart is a pump.

Her heart is a pump.

And so, she thinks, as the hummingbird finally falls dead, this fluid staining my cheeks must be blood-red.

To be continued...

[Cello: Jacqueline du Pré; Conductor and husband: Daniel Barenboim; video courtesy of markvogue]

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Elgar: First Movement (The Man Doomed to Love)

A conductor tenses his baton. A cellist draws her bow.

In an opera box, the man doomed to love checks his breath.

The initial thrum only shocks the spine, but there is a next—and a next—and a next—all plucking at and plundering the white nerves within. He seizes, his knees splay, the clean line of him shredding underneath her assault. Leads sweat, and spark. Vision blurs. An aging body slathers itself with the heat of Pavlovian memory.

The Elgar. Their concerto. Of some twenty, muted years.

He twists the leather glove to restrain his hands from conducting her, from molding her, from beseeching her for that final encore. The fierce abstinence bulges and quivers his neck like the slim reed between her fingers. Those instruments of torment, slashing across his back and chest. How she had bruised and bludgeoned him.

In her pretty dress.

With her pretty, pretty song.

Scars split their seams, and the liquid adagio of a sluggish heart courses into his autumnal skin. Blood surging faster than notes. Sweet delusions, the speed of light.

Their first concert.

Applause like firecrackers.

Her hot kiss on his ear.

The dressing room after.

A crashing of cymbals.

The long reverberation.

An orchestra throbs its gorgeous agony.

He is on point. Vibrato.

Her writhing stokes a golden frenzy about her shoulders as she rocks and inflames the wood between her thighs. A house of longing straddles her strings. She opens her worldly eyes. And smiles at her maestro.

The man doomed to love bites hard on the leather.

And tastes her skin.

Crying out, he lurches to his feet. The cancer of his need wrests him back, back. Back past his wife with her chorus of tears, back past his friends with their requiem faces, back past the velvet shroud . . . back . . . back . . .

Back to somewhere before.

Some time.

When he was his instrument.

And she was his song.

Find the Second Movement here.

[Cello: Jacqueline du Pré; Conductor and husband: Daniel Barenboim; video courtesy of markvogue]

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Of Mermaids and Exorcisms

Vesper tagged me with the highly contagious 6 Random Things meme that's infecting the blogosphere. Hopefully, it won't be fatal.

The rules, as copied from her blog, are:

Link to the person that tagged you - ie me.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself in a blog post.
Tag six people.
Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their post.
Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

So here I go:

1. I once made 28 free throws in a row as a freshman in high school. Since this is unquestionably the single, greatest achievement of my life, it receives top billing. Suck it, Shaq.

2. I was that girl who never spoke up in class. I was also that girl who had a thing for the guys who did speak up in class. Yes, I loved me some nerds.

3. I've lived in 2 Athens. Ohio and Georgia. And despite the fact that one's in the Deep South and one's in Appalachia, they're remarkably similar. No "Love Shack" in Ohio, though. Figures.

4. I experienced my first kiss in a movie theater, during Ariel's angsty rendition of "Part of Your World" in The Little Mermaid. Sure, I was 13, but even then, it seemed a little uncool. Still bought the soundtrack, though. And made liberal use of the rewind button.

5. I can't watch horror films. The pressure is just too intense. The Exorcist actually makes me religious.

6. The most amazing thing I've ever tasted was the graham cracker I ate after giving birth to our daughter. I never wanted its yummy, crumby goodness to end. Yes, yes--the kid was kinda sweet, too.

And there is always the hope that someday she, too, will make 28 free throws in a row...or find first love through the cinematic manipulations of the Walt Disney corporation and/or Pixar.

A mom can dream, can't she?

I know what the rules say about tagging people. But honestly, most of the blogs I visit have already been tagged, or were tagged concurrently with me. So if you're looking for something to post, feel free to dive in! The water's warm...and rife with random mermaids and their secret longings.

Thanks, Vesper! This was fun. :)