carries a lot of suitcases but all of them are empty because she’s expecting to completely fill them with life by the end of this trip
& then she’ll come home
& sort everything out
& do it all again
Value of a Nickel
I buried a nickel under the porch when I was 8, she said, but one day my grandma died & they sold the house & I never got to go back for it. A nickel used to mean something, I said. She nodded. It still does, she said & then she started to cry.
Life must be cheaper here, she said & I said I don’t think life is cheap anywhere, but there are some places people haven’t added it up yet because they’re too busy making stuff for America.
Vale of Tears
collecting little mementos to prove her theory that this is a vale of tears & my advice is you damn well better stay out of her way
I see stuff like this a lot in my dreams, so I decided it should at least be doing something useful while I figure out what it means.
Don’t you hear it? she asked & I shook my head no & then she started to dance & suddenly there was music everywhere & it went on for a very long time & when I finally found words all I could say was thank you.
map of some places not discovered quite yet because when people get too close it stands up & trots away
I think we should make all the flags in the parade out of long underwear, he said, because then only the really fun people will come.
I try to use unconditional love in small amounts, she said, so people really appreciate it. The rest of the time I just try not to yell.
When my great-uncle August was in his twenties, he left Iowa & went to study cake decorating at the National Baking Institute in Chicago. He learned everything from spun sugar decorations to ice sculpture. He went to school for 2 years & when he finished, he went back to Iowa & worked in the family bakery. Except for the odd wedding cake, he never used the fancy stuff he learned. He was in charge of yeast breads & cinnamon rolls. Just after the end of WW II, the Valley Dairy Farmer’s Association had the first of the now famous Milk & Honey Festivals. August made a model of the Statue of Liberty out of 250 pounds of white cheddar cheese, surrounded by American Beauty roses of spun sugar, especially for the occasion. He showed me the page from Life magazine he kept folded up in his wallet, one summer when we visited. On it was a picture of a much younger man, smiling next to a 4 foot tall Liberty. He told me he had 6 proposals of marriage from that photo, one from the East Coast even & he smiled & I saw him grow 30 years younger & I knew in our hearts we never get old.
Tired of knowing everything without ever being sure
Don’t you dare be rational at a time like this, she told me, or I’ll be forced to admit I wasted all these years with you.
What would it take to fly? he said & I said I wasn’t sure, but I knew he’d have to move faster than he did now & he thought about that for a minute & then he looked at me & said you’re trying to teach me something, aren’t you?
Two Wise Men
My great-aunt Clara told us once about the time she was one of the wise men in the church play & when it came to her part she said we’re here bearing frankincense, gold & myrrh, heavy on the frankincense because of that camel smell & after that her father always called it the story of the Two Wise Men & that other guy & we laughed so hard we had to pee.
When I was young I told everyone I had a twin sister. One day, after we had been to see the relatives, my mother told me I was too old to play that game any more. So I stopped talking about her & after awhile, she finally went away. But I’m grown up now & I still miss her & I wish she would come back.
This keeps time in 3 different time zones, but none of them are the one he’s usually in.
Trusting the Universe
It’s much easier to trust the universe when it’s going well, she said.
They came to sit & dangle their feet off the edge of the world & after awhile they forgot everything but the good & true things they would do someday.
There is no one who comes here that does not know this is a true map of the world, with you there in the center, making home for us all.
The next time the demons come, he said, just wave your penis at them. I can’t do that, I said. Why not? he said. Well, I said finally, because I’m American.