Friday, January 28, 2011

What I wouldn't do, honey, is call him again.  He isn't worth it and you're too good for him.  What I would do is get a dog, because a dog already knows he's not worthy of you.

She attempts to tell the truth about true romance, but finds she can't because she doesn't know the first thing about it.

Five smooth stones and a miracle, you say, but first he was already a very good shot.

The woman who wrote too much started out complex and kept a lot of thoughts inside, but gradually leaked them all into notebooks. Don't try to talk to her because what you see is only her shell.  Read the notebooks - they're all that's left.

She told us a movie changed her life and afterward she never lied again. I wondered if I could watch the movie backwards and stop telling the truth.

First, let me explain that I'm not usually like this it's just that I'm so surprised to see you here and I'm your biggest fan, in fact, I'm in love with you and I think we're destined to be together, did you get my letters?  You know me as well as I know you now and let me buy you a half-caff soy latte with agave like you like and we can talk and I know you'll feel the chemistry, but I'm not nearly as fit as you are so please slow down a little and I'll tell you about our plans for the evening PLEASE stop running I can't catch my breath and didn't you love the picture of us together that I 'shopped and posted on your website?  It kept getting deleted - I had to post it a hundred times and please stop shouting, you're making a scene.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

All wounds

My dearest Clara,

I have begun this letter at least a dozen times and each previous version has landed in the fire.  I yearn for your company, for the feel of your small, cool hand in my own, but I finally understand that this longing shall nevermore be satisfied.  Lovely Clara, I wish I could say that I have reconciled msyelf to this loss, but truly I remain bereft and lost.

You said that you were through with me, and of my sort, but I cannot bring myself to believe this.  I cannot, Clara!  Throughout the years we have been together I never sensed your restlessness, your discontent with our life together!  How, how could I have missed the signals?  My own eyes, ears and mind have fully betrayed me, and yet they remain as my constant traitorous companions, while you alone have gone.

Is it only the silence and desolation you crave?   I would rip out my own tongue to see you again in the dooryard, and my poor heart is more desolate than the plains that call to you.  Cattle, my dear - I shall cover our hillside with the creatures you adore.

Say I have not irretrievably lost you.  Describe for me your most outlandish wishes and I will build your dream.

Your miserable, loving M.

Dearest Clara,

Although I dare not hope for an Express junction in the Territories, I did foolishly wish for your response this past fortnight.  I am rather morose and lonely, but have begun cooking and cleaning again in the vain desire to see you riding up, dry and exhausted from the trail, wishing for a good meal and clean bed.  I know I am foolish.

Your sister, Chloe, kindly brought me a supper plate Sunday.  Naturally your mother came along, as well, as Chloe's reputation could only suffer from an unchaperoned visit.  I was touched, as I had always sensed Chloe's (and certainly your mother's) disapproval of me.  The wrong sort, I once heard her say quietly. 

I miss you dreadfully and I beg you to write, if only so I might hold the paper you have held, and imagine our hands touching without the intermediates of paper and distance.

I remain your loving M.

Dear Clara,

I imagined your ranch to be remote and wild, far from civilization.  Why else would you decline to answer my letters?  Any other reason would be cruel.  And yet, I was stunned to hear Chloe say, over the picnic lunch she brought, that the Lazy Bar J is barely five miles from the town where you go every two weeks to spend your pay.

Surely, Clara, you are not so hard-hearted that you would deny me the comfort of your correspondence!  Say I am mistaken!



Your siser, Chloe, surprised me greatly by agreeing to move into the storage room in my cottage.  She has been a great comfort to me in my sorrows, and I cannot deny she is a wonderful cook.  Buffalo has never been so delectable!

I hope that you are not upset by this, as I'm sure you would not wish a barren, still house for either of us.  This is, of course, an arrangement of convenience.   I do need help keeping the cottage, and I never was as good as you at maintaining your lovely garden.

Don't worry, my dear.  It appears that Chloe is also "the wrong sort," to my delight.  Your mother is not so delighted, and perhaps would appreciate a letter from you.

Best regards,


I hope you don't mind, dear, but we've had your dresses remade to fit Chloe.  She is quite a bit smaller than you, so the waists had to be greatly altered.  I assured her that you are happy to be rid of them, as they do not fit your life of hard work and solitude.

Please take this little ring you left behind as a token of my affection.  Even our talented goldsmith would not be able to reduce it to Chloe's size, and really she deserves to have some things that aren't second-hand.

Be happy for us.

Your pal,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One-Ton Rita

By February 2nd every year Rita weighs two thousand pounds.  You can't tell by looking at her.  Her red down coat looks a little salty and soiled, but no more so than anyone else's, and not so you'd guess she has reached an English ton.  Every morning she can still get her leaden feet into the same size 8 zip-up boots, always still white from yesterday's salty salvation.  She never complains about the salt, because when two thousand pounds slips on the ice, two thousand pounds gets its red coat even dirtier and calls her chiropractor. 

One-Ton Rita can still wrap her soft green plaid scarf around her tree-trunk neck the way she could when she was little Rita three months ago and a Halloween cold snap sneaked up on everyone.  You can only guess how much Rita weighs by the way she walks (if you can catch her walking) and by the look on her face (if she would meet your eye).  Bus drivers see that Rita weighs two thousand pounds before she reaches the door, and the bus kneels before her.  ALL HAIL 2000-POUND RITA!  Your Massive Majesty, please enter your carriage!  and she does, somehow, not because she is interested in going somewhere else, but because she remembers vaguely that somwhere else is expecting her.

Every February second, so reliably that we wonder why we still ask, a woodchuck in a sleepy Pennsylvania village becomes alarmed, not by his own shadow cast by a huge electric floodlamp, but by the flash of cameras suffering a slow news day.  Rita is not from Punxatawney, but subscribes to a weekly paper there.  She has recorded the wather there on 2/2 for as long as she has enjoyed her subscription, and twice was sunshine reported. She clipped out both reports and slid them under the glass of her coffee table.  They have never seen enough sunshine to yellow.

Rita is not the only two thousand pound woman in Ithaca.  One-ton women are common here.  They're the same women you notice at 120 pounds wearing Flax and Birkenstocks, gliding up Aurora Street deciding where to eat al fresco.  Ithaca's gravity is very strong in January, which is a good thing because it keeps people stuck to the ground here.  Rita wants to leave every winter, but weighs too much to stand up and pack.  She's too heavy to buy a plane ticket.  Too huge to get into a southbound car.  This morning she lost 1800 pounds, but before she could pull out her iPhone to book a flight the sun was gone again.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Silent haiku

Apart from that unfortunate incident in the garden, Winslow had never eaten a fruit softer than a mango - thought that anything easy to eat was a socialist plot. Unaware that her name came up at least once in every meeting of the Junior League, she wouldn't have cared anyway. She had almost no patience for soft things. Foolish, giggling, gossiping, soft-headed women were the worst, and bananas were nearly as bad.

The pillows on her mother's gray chintz sofa annoyed her, and Winslow hauled the pillow-top mattress away the day she got the dump permit for her old Ford pick-up. Soft-shelled clams, soft-boiled eggs, angora rabbits, candlelight, pudding: she wanted no part of these indulgences. She treated herself to unpopped corn on the weekend while watching documentaries on the buildings of England.

Still she wished for company now and then, so she had joined a book club that met once a month. She attended for a month. It had turned out to be a drinking club - not that she had anything against a nightly glass of sherry - but wine with a book makes one's comprehension soft. A neighbor talked her into a knitting group, bu the silky cashmere wool drove her nearly to distraction before she could wrap it back into a ball and drop it into the green steel trash can on her way out the door. She thought a church community might be a good thing, and she approved of the unpadded pews at the Mother of Perpetual Sadness Catholic Church, but soon learned that Father Robert was soft on sin. She decided to keep her cold, hard tithe in her pocket.

Winslow had had a lover once, a man whose flinty jaw and sharp wit had attracted her until she noticed his thought processes becoming flabby and his abs muddled. Distraught, rolling his American Tourister through her living room toward the door, he appealed to the tenderness of her heart, which just showed that he had never known her at all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


It used to be that an old friend could stay lost forever so that we always know her with braces and acne but then she got them off and went on tetracycline and was a slut all through her sophomore year.  We used to think How great it would be to catch up and see if we can pick up our friendship! but no.  She must have married after I left and I'll never find her.  Heaps of poign and wist later, some jackass invents Facebook and fast-forwards your easy, pimply friend into your life with pictures of her and her 37 grandchildren all gathered at Bible Study and "click if you like Jesus Christ our Lord and Personal Savior."  Awkward.  You quietly defriended Jesus fifteen years ago and now he's going to see that you really didn't quit Facebook like you told him in your break-up instant message.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I lost an enemy today.  I didn't plan it.  I didn't see it coming.  It was an idle, thoughtful word - I should never have said it! - but there it was and I couldn't take it back.  I saw the grateful look cross her face and I could have kicked myself.   You dolt!  I thought.  This cannot be undone!  The healing is out there between us and I would give the world to go back in time and ungive that heartfelt compliment.  Years of contempt and mutual animosity thrown carelessly away, and I can only blame myself and the hormone replacement therapy.  We each walked away, arm in arm, and we knew nothing would be the same again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Possible and Probable.

Between the probable and the possible I watch the Possible because it's everything.  The Probable fits into a lunch bag of the expected and the Possible is huge, as big as everything.  The Possible needs a big bag, a box, a room.  You need to move the Possible outdoors, into a meadow big enough to not hold it.  Possible says it could happen, and I'm left to try.  What would I try if I couldn't fail?  Bring it to the Possible meadow.  You won't find everyone there.  Your mom will remind you to take a sweater - it gets cold in the meadow at night - and she will suggest you carry a bag of Probable with you, just in case.  Just in case things don't work out with the Possible, and you need cab fare home.  You never know, Mom says, hoping the meadow grass will feed your heart but suspecting you'll need the bag.