Some Information About Twenty-Three Years of Existence

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(after Jeff Clark, after Michaux)

[1970] Whispered: It is already too late.

“We will fix it,” she says. “We will figure out a way.”

 

[1971] Ambivalence. She is pressed tightly to the chest. Some silence.

 

[1973] She is walked to the steps of the flat brick building and left there. Papers are inked, shuffled. She rides in a car. A card with a name printed on it is tied around her neck with a length of yarn.

In a room with long tables and metal chairs, she is fed an egg, a ripe persimmon.

Later, a woman brushes her hair and frowns. Her photograph is taken.

 

[1974] She is walked to a car. She is driven to a plane. She sleeps. She dreams of falling down a steep hill in the dark.

She is fed fried eggs and bacon in pre-dawn light. The woman who sets the plate down in front of her calls herself “mother.” Salt on the lips brings familiar pleasure in an otherwise unfamiliar room.

She says the word “toilet” but says it wrong and then repeats it with increasing urgency.

 

[1975 – 1976] At school she is a china doll. The women clasp their hands and shake their heads. They say: “How lucky she is. So many others not so lucky.”

 

[1977 – 1984] Stately sisters in musty habits parade her around the corridors. She is a plastic trophy painted gold. She is a constellation of paper stars.

 

[1985] At the ocean, the mother emerges from the telephone booth with a grim expression.

At home, the father’s closets are emptied, the doors hanging open. Two wire hangers on the rack. She finds a dime on the floor, and hides it in her mouth until nightfall.

 

[1986] Some bleeding.

 

[1990] In the dorm, she pines for D., but the flaxen-haired, slim-faced April is enchanting. Her own hair is black. Her own face is broad.

Through the walls, she can hear April’s delighted cooing and D.’s full-throated laugh.

She skulks the hallways immodestly, lingering by the doorway to D.’s room. She perfumes her hair.

It is not uncommon to find her wailing in her bed.

 

[1993] Limited pomp. Much circumstance.

 

[1994] The man who walks beside her mother up and down the hospital corridors as she shuffles in her slippers then walks beside her as they exit the cathedral.

But first, burial in a sea of stone. But first, she drives to the thrift store with six plastic trash bags that contain the last of her mother’s things.

Trapped wind in the hallway of her apartment building is a death rattle.

Trapped bird throws itself against glass for hours before breaking, then falling.

Photo By: John and Anni Winings




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About Author

Mary-Kim Arnold’s short fiction has appeared at Tin House (online), Wigleaf, Swarm Quarterly, and The Pinch. Her poems have been published in Day One, Year One: Best of 2014, burntdistrict, Two Serious Ladies, Sundog Lit, and elsewhere. She has also written for HTML Giant, The Lit Pub, and The Rumpus, where she is Essays Editor. Mary-Kim received her MFA in Fiction from Brown University and is studying poetry at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She blogs sporadically at http://mkimarnold.com/ and is @mkimarnold on twitter. She plays bass in the band WORKING and lives in Rhode Island with her husband and children.

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