Marginal Frolics

Stepping out into this grand world in bodies made of water and light, we find our footing on surfaces barren and wild and cruel and kind. Before the invention of the wheel, we traveled on land and sea with frictions slapping our soles, and souls, and the water-borne sides of our brave vessels.

Now we are here, this other place, changed by what we have created, molding the hardened milk of a tree around the rims of our wheels, crushing the beds of rocks we traverse from one place to another. We ride as lords of speed through scenes we struggle to recall.

What happens when we pause, and look at the wilds we make for ourselves? What happens when we let our breaths catch us, exit our machines, and crouch to shake the stones, moved and removed, from our shoes?

Here, in these suspended moments, we play. Here our eyes grow wide as we mate and mourn and praise and yearn at life.

In these pages, find these moments, each and always between one place and the next.

Fictions


Ingenue Menagerie

"She made all of them," said the man standing just behind me. Daylight came into the dark basement through a single small window. A flickering fluorescent bulb supplemented it only weakly. Innumerable miniatures were squirreled away here, staring out at us now with their lifeless eyes.

"While in her twenties. A young woman, much like you."

I paused, listening, but not to him or his breathing behind me. The heaviness of basement dust and darkness magnified the clear sound of water dripping slowly in the background. I decided it was coming from a faucet upstairs, or maybe through an open window, off the broad leaves of one of the sycamores I passed in the sprawling, stately garden on my way in. The paper-thin bark of their trunks was moody, like fingers tracing clouds. They belonged on the banks of a river.

But we'd been in a drought for some time, and ambient humidity was zilch all over the city, even up here where the moguls lived. If the trees were dripping condensation, it meant excessive watering in the garden around them. Dripping water in these times was simply irresponsible. Each drip was a nail scraping slate.

"Amazing," I responded, feeling many things other than amazement. I wasn't looking at him, but I knew from upstairs his eyes would be large and milky, their red beds inflamed, each blink a momentary curtain closing on a peculiar eclipse. I felt them focused on my back. I felt the height of him, looming. Tall, angular. Precise. Old.

Continue reading Ingenue Menagerie.


The Part-Time Dragon and the Challenge of the Trolls (A Children's Story)

Bubba is a little boy with a thick, long, beautiful braid. It hangs past his shoulders and down his back. Dad also has a braid. He tells Bubba: "Our ancestors are strong men and women with long, beautiful braids. When they walked this land, they honored it, its wildness, and all of its creatures. We wear our hair in braids to remember them, and to honor their strength and wisdom that continue on in us." He tells Bubba this as he combs the tangles out of Bubba's hair and rebraids it every morning.

Grace is Bubba's sister now. She is several years older and much bigger than Bubba. She doesn't always braid her hair because her ancestors are different from Bubba's. She celebrates their strength and wisdom in other ways, such as when she goes to temple with Poppa.

Most days, Grace watches Bubba after school, until Dad or Poppa comes home from work. Bubba likes to crawl into Grace's big, soft lap for stories. He says he likes her stories about magic and monsters best of all, but Grace has noticed he also likes stories about kindness and clever children.

Continue reading The Part-Time Dragon and the Challenge of the Trolls.

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Leaky Poem Syndrome

Imagine my consternation when, as the practical child of a practical people, at a very young age I began to leak poetry.

Written in dribs and drabs on throwaway scraps and the margins of notebooks, verse dripped out of me like a runny nose, and every bit as awkward. I hid the result as best I could, knowing how little sense such an affliction could make in this world of straight lines and tidy margins. Still, the leaks occurred, and when I ran out of fingers to plug the failing levee, the overflow nearly did me in. Here are a few I've pulled from the flotsam.

Read freshly filtered verse.