Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tubbercurry Creamery

The Unificationists pelted the crowd with crabapples and unripe pears; one of them, an odious-looking boy with a fat face and matching nose grinning from ear-to-ear. ‘God save the King!’ hollered a boy in knee-britches and a candy-striped nightcap, ‘and the Queen too!’ hollered a second boy, his sickly yellow face riddled with pockmarks. Lela made her way along the icy balustrade that ran like a Chinese Wall from one end of the town to the other, the thump of the drums vibrating in her ears. She walked past Monument Creameries, the heavy oak doors creaking on their hinges, an ashen face cooper sliding the quarter hoop into place then tamping the head hoop round the chime, cherry wood barrels of fresh cream saddled onto the back of ox-driven wagons destine for house and home, then past a stray dog pissing on a dead dog, the pissing dog leaning into it furtively, Lela pulling her muffler over her mouth, the dead dog grinning from ear to snout. She passed by a woman and a wailing child, the woman’s face red with fury, the wailing child sucking its thumb like an icicle candy.

She walked and walked, stopping only to redress her skirts, which owing to the clamminess in the air wouldn’t stay flat against her thighs and buttocks. She walked past the bust of King Olaf, his figure looming over the commons like a regal courtesan, his feminine side, something he was disparaged for as a young man, fief and serf alike mocking him for his womanly manner, outstripping his masculine side, past a sandbox where a boy and a girl were building a sandcastle, the boy throwing handfuls of sand in the girl’s tear-stained face. She walked and walked, her legs aching like whittled sticks, her feet as tender as milk pudding. ‘wait up!’ yelled a man in a overcoat beguilingly. ‘I have something for you’. ‘shove off I’ll call a cop’ said Lela firmly, her eyes fixed on the man’s face. ‘that’s certainly no way to talk to your great uncle, now is it?’ ‘my great uncle is dead’. The man smiled and went his way, his overcoat billeting in the wind, a crow riding the thermals like an acrobat signaling the end of days. ‘damn scoundrel pigeons…Call it domestication…keep them in rooftop hutches…skin and boil them with radishes and field greens, saw a peddler griddle cook a dozen on a sidewalk grill, juices spitting all over his boots…sold them two abreast, slat-rubbed and quartered, pick your teeth with the leftover quills’. Her great uncle died from overexertion, collapsed on the street like a whipped horse, flies laying eggs in the whites of his eyes. She past a man making the sign of the cross, an X marked with ash rubbed into his forehead.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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