Showing posts from March, 2005

fifth grade math

      In the particular type of neighborhood where my parents live, a ringing doorbell can only mean one thing. It's an event which occurs every spring with only three variations. The variables this time: let x= two, y=girls, and z=pecan pies (whose value is greater than wrapping paper). The result of the equation has always been a constant, the equation being: x plus y plus "doorbell" plus "fundraiser" plus "selling" plus z = "please come back when my parents are home."      "Oh!" the x y giggled. "Sorry, we thought you were a grown up."      "I'm not," I assured them with utter confidence.      "Wow! You look like a grown up."       "I'm not."      Then they complimented my earings, and we talked about the redsox, and they marvelled at the twelve foot tropical tree that has turned my parents' foyer into a jungle. (So I told them the story of the tree in our entranceway, th

pieces of moses

and cookie crumbs -both oreo and chocolate chip, and wrinkled diner receipts, and the wrapper from greg's secret affair with beef jerky, and the soggy toothbrush that disappeared the first morning, and a plastic spoon with peanut butter dried around the edges, and a cracked stick of insence smelling a bit too strongly of fruit and flowers and venice beach, and the rainbow of dirt from the frozen dawn in the New Mexico mining town or from the golden afternoon in Tennessee searching for a cemetery or from the twenty other states when we, with or without winter coats, sometimes hatted and scarved, sometimes light and thin in our t-shirts, brought pieces of America into the car, trecked it in on the bottom of our boots. It all disappears into the vacume hose or trash bag. Now my car feels cavernous. I'm parked in front of my parents' house. Five thousand four hundred and twenty two miles later. Back where I started. My sigh doesn't echo, but it could.

mile 340

After the first three hours on the road, the land softens. Losing the tension lines of the rough crags and heavy brush of los angeles, it slopes into rolling greens, hills shaped like a woman lying on her side with white turbines in her hair. Everything green and grey and white and soft. Gliding through a rain storm then out again into the sun, we watch the greens give way to the pales: Pale sand, pale sky, pale green cacti, darker joshua trees, the land flat and severe. We round a corner and the sand becomes piles of boulders, a giant's rock collection arranged by shape and size. The pales turn to dark, rich tans, and there are joshua trees and joshua trees and joshua trees assembled like an army, like lichen in the valley below the boulders. And beautiful seems like such a simple, stupid word, but for a while, it is the only word I can say. Then the sun is gone and the colors are gone, but the shapes remain and we're speeding alone on a one lane highway under a full moon wh

mile 3161. city museum, st louis

      He was our cheshire cat, all smiling white teeth appearing out of nowhere. "That there's our giant slinky," he said, first materializing in the hallway to answer our unspoken question. "It's how you get to the third floor."       We hesitated in front of the narrow coils of steel suspended three flights above the lobby. "You want us to CLIMB this?"       "Sure do. Press your back against the bottom bar there and push with your legs."       "Really?"       "It's easy."       "Really?"       He grinned at us. "Sure."       So we did what he said, squeezing our way through and up, looking down at the lobby floor, then up at the ceiling as we twisted and kicked our way inside the slinky until, upside down, we slid out to the third floor and the steel tunnels that awaited.       He appeared again after the skateless skate park when we were looking at the shrunken heads glowing in la

mile 2342, Ellsworth, KS

   &nbsp"Do you think it would be stupid to name him Moses?"     I looked back at the giant tumbleweed perched over the entire backseat. "No. No, I don't think naming it Moses is stupid..."