Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sugar, Chef's Quality

Maybe, Sugar by Alan

Sweetness, why do we sway in the trees so? Where is it that those sudden wings fold in genuflections over hidden earths? What is it that the thirsty man said to the breeze before it lifted his desire and turned it into a dove?

This month we want nothing but questions, for the child has not yet begun to read. One might be a photograph, a play of light. Another the trace of a breast. There are things sought after in this world, and there are things that never leave one’s side. This is a kind of maxim he will most assuredly learn, another punctuation mark with which he will fall in love.

Can we meet again? At the end of this month. At the counter where we first met. I’ll be done with a set of words and walking home. It will be spring, finally. I will stare through the glass and look for you amongst the faces. There we will find a space in the dark to exchange dresses. I always thought there was a chance that you were the voice I spoke to long ago, the one in the perhaps dream. What is it about memory that leaves certain probable holes - space for the tasting, taste for lasting – that are inevitably filled with sugar, more sugar? I will meet you there.


Some Other Ghost by Sherisse

Over crepes, Ellie said that she believed her husband was falling in love with me and asked whether I, too, was falling in love with him. There were pink peonies on the table that looked as though they had just bloomed. Outside it was hot and we’d agreed we would sit indoors where it was air conditioned. We were both wearing dresses that covered our knees. I laughed when I heard the question, or just a moment after. Ellie’s face grinned but only slightly. I looked over at the bar and the band performing Chris Isaak’s, Wicked Game. I noticed how few people were dining at this early hour on a weeknight. I was chewing and pointed at my mouth to indicate that I would answer her question but needed more time. Her gaze was fixed on me but friendly. It was as though she’d just asked for something that belonged to her and was simply waiting, patiently, for me to retrieve it.

We'd been seeing each other, the three of us, for several weeks. I wasn’t yet sure if this was a relationship, if I would even call it that, nor what was expected of me. And it was that thing – expectation – which I had been trying to deflect since the first conversation. I had wanted to be a passerby, or a participant from a distance. But now we were here, she and I, on a date that started with a stroll through Chelsea and would end with a kiss on the Highline. We hadn't gotten to that part yet. Soon we would order coffee. The coffee would arrive in bowls. She would add sugar to hers and I would have mine unsweetened. This detail seemed to signify some greater difference: the fact that Ellie had a husband and I did not or, perhaps more accurately, that she had made a choice to become someone’s wife whereas I had not ever believed I could fully inhabit such a thing.

Eventually some words strung themselves together. “I may be falling in love with him,” I said, “but we can’t yet know what is reality and what is fantasy.” I paused there. Ellie seemed satisfied as she exhaled. I thought her satisfaction might have more to do with the fact that she had asked the question in the first place, found a confidence she didn’t know she possessed.

After the Highline I found my way back to my Queens apartment. In the soothing dark I wept for some past not yet washed away or disposed of or gone. It was as if Ellie had asked what other secrets I'd been keeping. I hadn't realized I'd been keeping any at all. I may have been falling in love with her husband – with her, even – but there was some other ghost. I took the peonies home with me that night, not the flowers themselves but a photograph. I would go on looking after them in solitude as if they were an extension of our own – Ellie’s and mine – forgotten, or lost, beauty.


Sweet Tea by Lyle

Sweet tea with Susie under the pecan trees in the afternoon when it was still not so hot to sit out under the trees and drink sweet tea with Susie. But that was some time ago before the rain. Before the rain was sweet tea with Susie. And then the rain left us separated; a rain is a sliver that separates. A woodpecker in the savaged trees. The foreignness of bridges. Homes stolen for bridges. Sweet Susie under a pecan tree, still under, where I drive a nail into the trunk and think about sweet sweet tea with Susie. No more with sweet Susie.


Sweetness by Johanna

For the first eighteen years, I lived in a marsh. We ate rice, mushrooms, watercress, fish, frogs and ducks. My skin flaked with green scales. I made friends with flies and lizards. My eyes yellowed and twitched.

I picked my mom a bouquet of asters, marigolds and rose mallow. They dried to dust under the window. The only music I knew came from my dad's fiddle and he never played it very well. I found a magazine once at the side of the old county road. The pages torn and wrinkled from rain. I brought it home and hid it under my pillow. At night I searched the pages in the moonlight. It was all about cars. Red cars. Fast cars. Electric cars. Trucks and wagons. I was shocked to learn that people cared so much for cars. So much that a whole magazine could be devoted to them. We never had a car. Only a row boat.

My dad found the magazine and burned it in the yard with the trash.“It's just trash,” he said. “You don't need to be reading that junk.” I couldn't read anyway.

Then there was the fisherman. He called me pretty. News to me. He saw that I was feral and he pulled prizes from his pocket. A wooden token, paper clip, pen cap, rubber band, glass bead-- his pocket seemed infinite-- brass key, earring, button, broken chain, and the best prize of them all, a dirty, torn packet of sugar.“Try it,” the fisherman said.

He took me away that night and I never returned. I had never known such sweetness.


After a Dying Ray by Bill

It’s a sweet chance and we had to take our shot. The train was getting ready to leave, ahead of schedule, a bit of secret advance we’d managed to scrap up. Normally we were all thumbs on the pulse of things, and our hearts were never that strong to begin with – often we got knocked out before we even knew we didn’t know anything. But the train was a change and the train was the whole bowl of wax where it wouldn’t matter why we couldn’t hack it. If we got this one thing right, had a choice between the convalescent and the moribund then it was worth it to take a roll of the bones and see if it came up white.