"Since flesh can't stay, we keep the breath aloft. Since flesh can't stay, we pass the words along." --Erica Jong

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kern River



John and Bacopickle. Daddy and Mama.

A picnic. Years ago. My grandmother, Bacopickle, is still alive. She is here with her long used-to-be red hair wrapped around her head in circles of braids. John has a bottle of Four Roses whisky to keep him company. He celebrates every holiday with a bottle of Four Roses. He sits apart from the rest of us and hums comfortably to himself. In ten years they will both be gone. But today it is all right, today is fine! Tomorrow we will go our separate ways, but today we are all together again. Daddy cooks hamburgers over an open fire. Blue smoke rises high into the air. Mama helps Bacopickle with the lemonade and potato salad. My big brother climbs out of the river, says he won't go back in, the water's too cold. He lies on a wide, warm rock to dry out, like a lizard in the sun.

Wild blackberries grow all along the river's edge. The water sparkles. I throw little rocks into the water and the circles of ripples widen and run together. I step off the bank and wade out until the cold water is up to my knees. Little silver shivers dance like ripples up my backbone. Mother calls me to come back. I turn toward the shore and step off into a deep hole. The cold water closes over my head. Water is in my eyes, in my nose, in my mouth and ears. The waterweeds cover me, tangling my legs, pulling me down. I can't see or breathe or think. I can't call out. I can only sputter and cough and flail my arms helplessly.

My big brother comes in after me. I gasp and cling to his neck. When we are safely back on shore, he says, "If you'd been in the air instead of in the water, you'd a been flying!"

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2 comments:

slickdpdx said...

Lotsa great new stuff! Thank you.

pepektheassassin said...

You're welcome!

About Me

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1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.