Thursday, July 12, 2012

Inventory

I’m walking in the morning mist, uphill through tall grass and weeds. A brown leaf is stuck to my boot. I look down at it pasted there, making an out-of-season autumn tableau, some still-life scene you'd paint at summer camp. I bought these black galoshes for $19 at Kohl’s for the Cinco De Mayo camping party at my friend’s house out in the country. I’m walking to the house, to go to the bathroom. The boots are clunky; I’m wearing them without socks because I threw them on in the tent just now after my sneakers and socks got soaked in the overnight rain. I’m wearing a loose brown skirt over a neon-coral bikini, and my boyfriend’s black undershirt made from a special tight-knit silk. He was in the Army and has garments like this in his closet. At home he sleeps with a gun nearby. He’s done this since the first time in Iraq. The wet grass has polished the boots shiny, squeaky, reflective. I clunk along in a somnolent fog.

The brown skirt has a history. It has to do with New Orleans, and the first time I had sex, and the first time I got drunk, which happened to be the same night. One happened and then the other, and there I was, dancing in Harrah’s Casino to “Hollaback Girl,” a song I’d heard on the radio many times that summer but whose beat hadn’t roused me until that night. The guy I was with sat playing a slot machine and murmured for me to tone it down so I didn’t get us kicked out. There was the hotel room afterward (Room 315, tattooed on my brain), and there was the pipe painted white to blend in with the wall. I used the pipe for a stripper pole, the clock radio tuned to classic rock, wearing nothing except for this skirt, dancing for him, because he liked strip clubs -- he had taken me to one earlier in the night. “Fate… up against your will… you will wait until… you give yourself to him.” That was several lifetimes ago.
Sometimes I feel like an old onion, lifetimes wrapped around lifetimes.
I wonder whether anyone is really knowable, to anyone.

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