Zuzu trims her words



We are trimming the verbiage early this spring. I took my clippers and my shears and eliminated adjectives, superlatives, an embarrassing overgrowth of verys, goods, and littles.

How does one fracture an overgrown root clump, a collection of twisted, knotted, entangled word sins? Might be done through confession, through deletion, through a combination of bleach and a cold wrap placed on the root ball. I’ve killed bores before, growing on word trees. My peach tree produced even as it was dying, sweet blush stone fruit hanging heavy on three limbs and a stunted trunk. It is in the nature of nature to grow whatever it may grow even in the process of dessication, aging, and a sinking downward into the ground. Bury. Reincarnate. Bury. Return. Turn.

I greet Poison in the spring and offer it a drink: please sit down, Mr. Poison, there is no reason to ostracize you just because your nature is to destroy, not to seduce or convince. I give Mr. Poison a seat in the yard, which is tender and thinking about blooming, and he waves at Mr. Lopper, they being old friends and collaborators from back when. We have iced tea, from a pitcher that is made of a hard plastic substance that imitates glass, which is made of sand, sand blown so hard and hot that it is harder than the desert and the sand that makes your feet hard as leather when you are a child and hard leather feet are appealing, like you’ve grown mocassins on your feet. I remember walking across the parking lot, the Piggly Wiggly, in July with the brothers, all of us running barefoot from one white painted parking stripe to the next. The paint just enough cooler than the tarmac to keep us from blistering our small brown feet. Where the hell were our parents? I think that was the year of mom’s diet pills and dad’s embarassing toupee. Cripes, those mid-life crises were really something back in the 60s.


How is it that people can not talk about things, can avoid verbs their entires lives until suddenly verbs are spilling out of every crevice and every confession is followed by another? Zuzu’s locked herself in her small apartment and is sitting out on the back porch stairs every evening looking at the patch of city that she can see over the fence. The city is full of verbs; she doesn’t know how she’s spent her 35 years not noticing this before. There’s a boy on a scooter; he is scooting. There, a man has broken a bottle. Over there, a bus smokes as it passes and a woman in lime green linen is smoking, too, with her back to the street, like she doesn’t want to be seen by someone she knows. Zuzu can see the woman’s face, which is lit by a street lamp as the sun is going down. The street is steep, which is not a verb but describes the effect of the street on the action of those ascending and descending. She is thinking about action, Zuzu, and she is thinking about postcards and how they used to come all the time from people on vacation, but now it is e-cards, which she can’t imagine she will be able to buy in those little trash-to-treasure stores that are fading like the peach tree in the tiny yard behind her apartment. Still giving out the sweetest of surprises; she even likes the smell of old stores. Dust falling in motes, a lavendar powder in a compress, the sharp smell of rust on nails in rickety wooden furniture. She smells past, she smells future. Zuzu sometimes dreams in French, sometimes in Spanish, sometimes in smell. She wakes up and hovering on the edge of her dream there is cinnamon and peppermint, there is the smell of envelope glue, there is the smell of rain. She used to chase thunderstorms back before she got here, on the coast, where smells blow in from the sea and hang in the fog, where they are partially hidden.

Zuzu stayed home for a week after she got a postcard that said “The tide’s gone out, will call later. Don’t worry. Love, Billy.” She sat on the back porch, smoking, watching the woman in green linen hiding her bad habits. “Don’t worry” was hovering in the air all week, a hummingbird, a seagull, a thin mist hanging, an unfinished thought.  Zuzu sat waiting for the next card to come.


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March 2009
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