September 26, 2012KR OnlineFiction

Undertaking

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A full self requires stillness.
I am coming upon the face, the shape of it.

• •

Scratched pots and pans, wooden mallets hard enough to beat in a head. Sieves, bowls, scissors, tongs. Ladles.

Have we humiliated the house of our mother?

• •

Saw both sons within a twenty-four hour period.
The accompanying sound: a kind of purr.

• •

“ . . . Winnicott postulates the existence of a psychological intermediary realm between the subjective and the objective that he calls transitional space.”

Here we are.

• •

I was furious with him for making it so hard but the truth is that I hadn’t done my homework.

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I said: I’m just about done with my mother’s house
She said: You’re never done with your mother’s house.

• •

I could say to her: Are you saying that my work is anorexic?

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I sat in a kind of calm confusion, choosing not to define or decide.

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No answers. I just want a good sex life.

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What may feel like a tumble through space ends up feeling like a fall.

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No she in focus; no me.

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Before, talking about sex made it present.
Now, talking confines it to deep pockets?

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We’re giving her away now, this time voluntarily.

The things arrayed.
The bulk and heft of her.

• •

Working on the piece. This piece of the piece.

• •

Rape? Or the unclothing of a life?

so much dust

That (Trojan?) horse of a piano on its side, blanketed, cossetted.

chests and bowls—holders, like a mother

Leaves in the entranceway. A running faucet. Doors banging open and shut with the wind.
Raped? Abandoned.

• •

Now, she said, you’ve got me.
Then, she corrected herself and said: We’ve got each other.

I had no words.

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I said: Everything in here seems momentous.
She said: Like an earthquake?

That’s when it hit.

• •

I can only make things taut; I have no interest in roundabout or loose.

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This drawn-out shiva.
Sitting, we keep each other company.

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Dream: She couldn’t have died if the person before her in line was still alive.

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That woman (in me) who goes to Midnight Mass in order to brush against other human beings—I can’t not love her.

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One skin gone, the other arrives.

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Occasionally, she holds her own hand.
(Occasionally, she stabs herself with whatever is at hand, sharp or dull.)

• •

your address, my erotic life

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I’ve shut the door on that friendship.
Another abdication? How many abdications in a year?

• •

Mustard greens and curly kale with string beans and boiled potatoes. Hot, in the pot.

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I may go in there and say: I think I’ve stumbled upon our mortality.

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These frequent, cheap snorts of dream.

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When I finished that piece, I wanted to know what was for breakfast.

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Mortality may jump on the bandwagon, mortality may ruin your plans.

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I want to ask her simple things: Do you like olives?

• •

A relationship begun in an abundance of syllables, some remain unpronounceable.

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A mutual glance sparks recognition:
I know you, my self.

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The scent of our time, atomized.
Who owns that scent?

• •

The trick, I guess, is in knowing where to put up fences, how to tie off boundaries.

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my muse, my air, a valence, my permission slip

• •

“How we imagine property is how we imagine ourselves.” (Hyde)

Is that why I leave the door on the latch whenever I go for a walk?

• •

This bowl filling up with fragments of meditated time and image—
almost a wailing wall.

• •

She said canticle and I said: If not kaddish, then simple prayer.

• •

What I cry about?

My son on stage, forgetting he’s my son.

• •

It sings in me, you’re right.
He sings, as well.

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What do you call the commons of a brain? Isn’t everything your birthright?

• •

Begin (your parable, your legend) on a day when home is not a prison, when home is a commons, a field, a harvest about to begin.

How do you treat your commons?

And how do we negotiate the commons of our hours together—each one itemized, tallied, (paid for).

• •

Sometimes I think we need to eat something together, a slice of baloney, a crust of bread, an olive, a pear, a peach.

We have drunk together, a sip, and a sip.

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the extraction of grammar, a photosynthesis?

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He has the voice, sings the song.
I make up the song, singing as I go along.

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To go for the jugular: just another way of talking about a harvest?

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I put you at the grocery store, watching me, then think of better places for you to be.

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hoarder of space and time: objects of the mind

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Flooded with refracted light off the water of a mother—she floats on timeless seas.

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I face her, a you, and can’t deny the truth of endings.

• •

Look across and recognize this creak in the scenery.

A tear, a crack, the tears assemble, run down my face.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they ran down yours as well.

• •

This feels like tender new skin.
Tenderness may be inviting; people may respond in kind.

• •

You find your old self, unabashed.

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Turned off the greens. They’ll continue to cook in their own heat, the boil of their being, the way things do.

• •

The central molten boiling part: hardly an achievement, simply a fact.

• •

My neck is getting old. It’s true.

• •
The grocery store is the place where one would fall on the floor, weeping, isn’t it?
All those mothers.

• •

When she makes gestures pointing to the fact that we commonly inhabit the world, I am moved to silence.

Is there a word for it?
Mortality?

• •

She said: We haven’t turned away from it at all.

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I thought: Oh, this is life. I can still do this.

• •

Anything that reeks of ripeness slays me.

• •

In art, anything goes; it’s not life.

• •

Isn’t sex everything? Oh, and nothing, too, I guess.

• •

I said: I HATE not saying your name!
Then said it.

She said mine back.

• •

9/11

(a date to make you stand up?)

• •

Ate almonds and a protein bar, looked at expensive handbags at saksfifthavenue.com and now I’m calm?

• •

Talking to my oldest friend on the phone today, for just under forty minutes, was like being at a fascinating cocktail party.

Sometimes, the world comes back to you, thank god.

• •

Mondays are so reassuring.

• •

an insane asylum: not exactly the Ritz

• •

When I once said: We may be in it together, but you don’t suffer.
She said: That’s because I’m Irish and you’re Jewish.

• •

I cry, waking up and going to sleep.

• •

Clarity is gone; I am here.

• •

She is not my mother.
(You are not my mother.)

• •

Confidence is not my forte?

• •

I won’t ever scream at him again for not closing the cupboards or for leaving his shoes in a mess.

• •

You have been my everything—and now it’s time to say goodbye?

• •

Made it to here!

• •

I keep remembering—before and after.
This after seems huge, the before irreplaceable and fragile.

• •

A blossoming headache for days now—a kind of beauty, I guess.

• •

Is that orchid with its four huge white blooms, almost insanely robust, me?
Is the dead-seeming one a remnant of my graceful, delicate mother?

She was never purple, but she could seem a little hothouse from time to time.

• •

Measuring spoons, cup, thermometer. Hats and belts, sheets and towels. Buttons and thread. Shoes.

• •

Where is your mother-in-law when you need her?

• •

Here in a chair, surrounded by the elements: words, caffeine, sunlight, shadow.

• •

That diabolical merry-go-round has spun itself out.

• •

My friend and I walked the hill, touched the muzzles of frantic puppies.

• •

My sister says she hates it when patients tell her they’re premenstrual.
Do you?

We’re animal, after all.

• •

I can’t think that way—from one thing to the obvious next.
There’s nothing quite so boring, unless you’re trying to convince your husband of something.

• •

Full moon.

• •

Warming in a kind of afterlife, this life a little stolen from hers.
A bit finagled, like our precious time on earth.

• •

The sun: orange and round, about to turn red, about to be elsewhere, as we are—together and apart.

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Just us here now.
Hello! In every language.

• •

A girl sings a self in the incantation of a mother.

• •

professionally impressionable

• •

You’ve eaten me with a spoon, cut through me with a sharp knife.

• •

The sea rushes at this shore, this infinitely captive, captivating moment. She rushes, and we

• •

It’s the crest of the wave that dazzles, the astonishment of white.
A white we can’t conceive without the knowledge of crashing waves.

• •

I adore small, potent things.

• •

Smaller than a bean, a pea: you pine for your mother.

• •

Something happened: everything that had been simmering boiled over.

• •

The quality of your attention drives me mad with grief.
Still, I can think of New York.

• •

My husband waits, hovers, pretends to stomp away, pounces.

• •

What, after all?

• •

What method for handing you the hot wax of me?
For taking your impression onto me and making it last?

• •

No atheist in the trenches: I’ll keep resuscitating this love.

• •

I’ve hardly slept. It’s close to three. I’m ready to go.
Are you?

• •

You said: But sex often takes the rap.

• •

Something in me can hardly think of her without keening.

She said: You were waiting for sadness; now you’ve got it.

• •

But if I said I love you, would I be saying it as a woman or as a girl?

• •

They always said: After this is over, we’ll remember her when . . .

But I remember her then, right at the end. It’s the her still closest to me.

• •

How to put a coda on something never-ending?

• •

Accumulate, abominate.

• •

I said: Oh, you mean the history of my sexuality!

This many years later, that fire still burns.

• •

After buying the handbag in an air-conditioned store on a mostly empty downtown street, I drove Pine to the Pacific and who should I see from the corner of my eye but the undertaker. Driving the hearse, lighting a cigarette. I would know that man anywhere, with his blond hair and his dark, crazed look.

He lit up then moved lanes quickly, two over. I watched his left signal blinking red—I knew where he was headed.

Anne Germanacos’ collection of short stories, In the Time of the Girls, was published by BOA Editions. She and her husband live in San Francisco and on Crete. Visit her Web site at www.annegermanacos.com.