Writing

Seven

I knew how to count to sixty nine in Spanish without stopping and where the really soft moss grew in the woods where we played.   I knew how high I could swing before the chains started to bump and which parts of the playground caught the sun first on long-shadowed November mornings.

I knew what time Mother got up to make coffee when Daddy wasn’t traveling; I knew the names of six states but especially Michigan and California and how many steps it took from the kitchen to my bedroom in the dark.  I knew the Big Dipper and sometimes the North Star, all of them so far away that even if I counted to one hundred they didn’t move, not even a little.

I knew cat was a short a, ate was a long a, final e’s are silent and sometimes y.  I knew when my sister was about to hit me and I usually knew I had earned it.  I knew the rush of running with new rainbow shoestrings laced tight and double knotted; I knew who was the fastest girl in my class because it was me and I knew who was even faster because it was my sister.  That was okay.

I knew a secret place by the drain ditch where it sounded like water was really saying something after it rained hard. I knew the jingle of dog-collar meant Choco had escaped the electric fence and might chase me if I didn’t run inside.  I knew the scruff of my father’s face when he kissed me goodnight, then those dark rainbow swirls behind my eyes after the lights went out.

I knew that time didn’t really move faster when people got older, that if I held onto one moment at a time, it would linger like twilight fragrance on spring evenings, shadowed and sure as ocean-roar in a seashell, each hour of immortality passing through my hand as smooth and clean as summer skipping stones.

 

Benedict Arnold Takes Tea

I.

Benedict Arnold once captained a pirate ship in the West Indies.
Every morning he wakes early and practices tai chi.
He rearranges his furniture every month.

II.

Benedict Arnold expects visitors to inquire after his gout.
He insists upon well-trimmed hedges.

III.

Benedict Arnold firmly believes in bloodletting for children under ten.
He prides himself on his ruthless critique of clavier performances.
The viola is his favorite instrument because no one else pays attention to it.

Benedict Arnold has never lost a duel.
He considers waterslides a complete waste of time.
He paints exclusively with watercolors because he opposes turpentine.

IV.

Benedict Arnold usually cheats at Monopoly.
He takes his tea with great quantities of cream
because this demonstrates refinement.

V.

Benedict Arnold does not keep a diary.

 


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