the best of 52|250's fourth quarter

Week #43 – To the core

Week #43 – To the core

totem plate by Peter Schwartz
Attempt Number 24 by Talya Jankovits 
Lying still and naked like a gutted fish, I feel his hands hold mine tightly, sweat prickling up between us in little round, shining beads. He whispers in my ear I love you, but all I can think of is a piñata, the way they stuffed me up with eggs – small, ugly and little, nothing like the decorative Easter eggs with pink and purple and polka dots – all of them fertilized in little dishes with his sperm; a sad and desperate little garden. Feeling broken now, torn up and hanging from a tree, as if its all going to spill out of me like the Red Nile. I know their names; taste them on my lips as he kisses me. His hand reaches to my thighs, speckled with needle punctures, then to my buttocks bruised from deep injections. It will be the same this month: hollowed and empty – the core of me dried up and shriveled like a prune. His breath tickles my ear lobe and I think don’t touch me.
Slow Thaw by Solveig Mardon  
My car windshield was cracked. Rain slipped in and tapped time on the dashboard while you drove. Stereo cymbals crashed and made kilometres into atmospheres, made our autumn road-trip grand and unruly. We stopped at beach, one famous on this coast. Determined plinking notes on a piano made of sugar. The flat grey sand, bookended by mammoth cliffs that ached towards the Pacific, was ours. Your boots were soaked anyway so you waded in up to your waist, hands white with cold, flapping like seagulls for me to follow. The wind spun flecks of salty sting. We checked into a motel, a scratched key with a disco-ball keychain. You loved this kind of chintz. You slid it onto a chain and bowed your head, slipping it over my neck, a bestowal. The smell of our damp socks on the motel heater reminded you of skiing, of salty-sweet hot chocolate from a machine. It reminded me of a slow thaw, from the outside slipping in, like rain.
Juicy Sticky by Michelle McEwen 
This is how we eat fruit down here: smacking loudly and to the core— with juice all over, with sticky hands. That is if it’s a juicy sticky fruit and most times, down here, it is. Daddy says people up north don’t know how to eat fruit and that they eat the wrong fruit, too. He says the peaches they got up there ain’t real peaches and especially the watermelon. He says they eat their fruit too neat up there— with napkins and tossing it before they even see the seed. Once, when he was fresh outta school, he went to visit an aunt up there; he said she brought home a paper bag of supermarket peaches for him. “These ain’t peaches,” he had said to himself, but he ate them anyhow. He had been intending to move up there for work, but after tasting those up north supermarket peaches he changed his mind. Had it not been for that aunt bringing home those nasty peaches, daddy probably woulda stayed up there and never woulda bumped into mama down here who was sitting, one Saturday, on daddy’s granddaddy’s porch. She was eating a peach, smacking loudly, while waiting for daddy’s granddaddy to finish baking the apple pies she had come for. “That was the sweetest sight I ever seen,” daddy says often and smiles great big when he says it, too, ’cause to him a woman getting down and dirty with juicy sticky fruit is the kind you keep.
Coniferous by Derek Ivan Webster 
The pinecone fell at the edge of the lawn. It landed in that confused region neither manicured enough for grass nor wild enough for weed. It was smooth and dark like a single piece of aged leather. Seen through my window it might have been a dropped billfold, a shoehorn or a ruffian’s pocket sap.

I noticed nothing of it then, which is to say it signified little at the time. My thoughts were elsewhere that morning. There was an open letter on my desk; beside it a dry pen waited. The pen would not be dipped that day. The note found its way to the fireplace. The pinecone played no part in this reticence.

A week passed and the afternoon shadows deepened the edge of the lawn. It was the anger of the squirrels that finally brought me outside. They were attacking something, tearing at one another to go after their prize. My dress flattened the grass as I ran, leaving no trace of footsteps. Vermin skittered away as I approached the remains. The pinecone was open now, broken into sections with the interior exposed. I chose a piece; it was singular. It might have been a wooden tooth, a scale of armor or half of a child’s toy heart.

At my desk the last of the pinecone lay atop the fresh letter. I would send it to him, though he would not understand. The lawn was all flame now as a lamp blinded my side of the window.

Watermelon-Size Love by Melissa McEwen  
Everything’s all warm
sunshine and clear skies because we are
back together. Never mind that it’s the dead
of winter and the streets are covered in ice. Nothing
can touch our hot-radiator love. We warm
the bed up electric blanket style, kick
back quilts, sheets, the comforter. No need
to turn on the heat. We open windows
all the way to cool off. This
is no half-ass love
he’s giving
me. He’s loving
me like I’m his only
girl. Right now
his love is so real it leaves
tall shadows on walls. His love is
so whole and so heavy
like an uncut watermelon the size
of the one Mr. Lumpkin grew two summers ago,
so big it made the paper. And I want
to eat the sweet
red core—all of it
until only the rind is left.
The Matter by Helen Vitoria  
I avoid everything. If it has potential to cut me in half, spread me thin or red, like a million wandering seeds of a pomegranate, I avoid it. I keep quiet. Hands in pockets, at all times. Not touching is the best way to avoid things. Do Not Touch. But, I do touch the things in my pockets. The halter top I wore when I went drinking with mad boys that I did not know well. The books I never read but should have. The promises I made and knew at that moment I would never keep. The knives that he used to sever the apples. All the sticks I used to kill yellow snakes. I avoid the myth itself. Never the desire.
To the Core by Guy Yasko  
Crumbs of sand fall into the footprint. The wind pushes streams of sun
dried grains through its crenels. She can still read it as her
own. Tomorrow it will be only ‘footprint’. No matter. There will be
today’s prints and the next days.

She turns to the empty sea to absorb the sun, then walks along water’s
edge, past dunes, over bleached trees.

At the black rocks she finds an apple core, white in the sea water. A
crow cries from the forest.

Back to Wk #42 – Under wraps
Forward to Wk #44 – Crowd