Cheese Piece

When I’m alone at home,

while the wind is up and the cat suns his belly,

I indulge in a plate of cheese and crackers

Preferably poppyseed or sesame

Ideally sharp cheddar or Parmesan

I take small bites, chew slowly,

and read a book

This is something my mother would do

When the sun was hot and the house was cold

When she was alone

We’d come home from school,

and beg for cheese and crackers

Any kind would do

Like a snarling mutt

or a junkie working on a fix

She’d tell us it was her treat,

to leave her alone

Let her be

Clumsy Poem

Our world gets smaller when you sleep

I’ve been floating across our floor

Sweeping it with my dress

Waiting for you to open your eyes

 

You do not leave when you’re angry

You do not cry when you’re sad

You sleep, and sleep does some work on you

I have always fought sleep and distrusted it

You come to it like Mama

You offer yourself to it

 

I’m still here

Sitting and reading and writing

Fighting sleep

Wondering if my body will unknot itself

Long enough to touch you

Wondering why I see lightning

Why you see a warm breast

 

Sleep solves nothing

Stops time

Buys time

Makes it easy

Makes it that much harder

For the sake of momentum

Still moving it along steady-like…

Rachel leaned against the bar and raised a glass of champagne to her eyes, observing the crowd through the hay-colored lens. Her control top tights had ridden up and devoured her underwear, and her belly fat spilled over the top edge, making her abdomen ripple like a funhouse mirror reflection. She was wearing “the dress,” a skin-tight piece she had purchased for her first big premiere and hadn’t bothered to replace with anything else. That day she had puzzled over ways to make it fresh, and had settled on an enamel pin in the shape of a stargazer lily that was heavy and limp on her left shoulder. It wouldn’t matter anyway –  publicists barely looked up from their checklists when she walked the step-and-repeat. One thing that  had changed was her shoe preference, as she’d long ago given up the heel in favor of wool-lined leather flats that were alternately a daring fashion choice or a pair of slippers she’d bought at Goodwill.  

She knew the cheese cubes on a first and last name basis – Mr. Dill Havarti, Miss Baby Swiss, and, if the marketing team was feeling generous, Monsieur Blue Stilton. When asked why she RSVP’d to even the smallest premieres, she only half-jokingly said “it’s for the cheese.” There were slim times when it was the only thing she ate all day, and would get soused on cheap white wine before the appetizer trays could reach her.

There had been other premieres where the events of the evening had been eclipsed by her fantasies of reward. That after the endless smiles and hugs and introductions there was powdered sugar sand, big sunglasses, floppy hat, cold drink. An impromptu interview on the beach – “Oh, I absolutely have the time. What would you like to ask?” It was one audition away, one gig in the wings.

Tonight, she was a tree sloth named Edie.

Someone early in her career had warned her to “never do soap operas or voice work, unless you want to be there forever.” It had happened to her beautiful male friends, who were practiced in stern looks into their lover’s eyes paired with a soft squeeze on the shoulders that defined the daytime leading role. They would tell her it was because their rent was two months late or that a repo man was ready to tow or carry, but she knew that if they were really hungry for it then they could find a way. That she’d gracefully backslid into voice work was fitting for someone who spent so many years deriding what she considered “low art.”

Money was money. That and she had gained a reputation in the industry for being a hard worker and a team player. It didn’t hurt that she also had a gymnastic vocal range that could mimic any accent or animal call that was required.
She saw her friend Mark dodge the check-in table and slide past life-size cardboard cutouts of the animated movie cast. Mark was Peter Pan, and did seem to be following his shadow. Walking a few paces ahead of him was a man in a black suit and white shirt, a film negative for Mark’s audacious white linen suit and navy scoop neck.

So it seems.

It is strange when writing two paragraphs is an accomplishment. That I could set aside my pain for a little while and focus on a trifle of a story. I miss my dad. I worry about my mom and brother and sister. I’ve developed an intimate relationship with money that I never thought I’d have. I learn about “monthly annuities,” and “probate,” and “survivor benefits.” And, for a little while, I write.

The Voice

Rachel raised the champagne flute to her eyes, observing the crowd through a hay-colored lens. She wasn’t feeling bubbly. Her girdle, which now went by a sassier brand name, had ridden up and devoured her underwear, making it impossible to sit without being violated by Spandex. She was wearing “the dress,” a skin-tight piece she had purchased for her first big premiere and hadn’t bothered to replace with anything else. That day she had puzzled over ways to make it fresh, and had settled on an enamel pin in the shape of a stargazer lily that was heavy and limp on her left shoulder. It wouldn’t matter anyway –  publicists barely looked up from their checklists when she walked the step-and-repeat.

There had been other premieres where the events of the evening had been eclipsed by her fantasies of reward. That after the endless smiles and hugs and introductions there was powdered sugar sand, big sunglasses, floppy hat, cold drink. An impromptu interview on the beach – “Oh, I absolutely have the time. What would you like to ask?” It was all one audition away, one big gig in the wings.

Tonight, she was a tree sloth named Edie.