Breadcrumb #425

COURTNEY LOCICERO

When life gives you lemons,

You make what now?

Barefoot wanderers that play guitar and know where to find secret waterfalls?

Fermented, albino monsters hiding under the beds of traumatized children whose parents take them for granted?

What spells lemonade these days?

I’ve poured the cheap packets more times than I can count

I even got one of those fancy carafes

to make them feel like this was some real Southern hospitality shit

While I poured for them, the Monkey whispered in my ear

“Give them what they want. Use your gifts.”

His beard tickled me there

The guests thought that I was smiling for them

I was bending myself inside out for their consideration

I showed them all that I had, am, will ever be

Every single creation inside me

That was ever worth being seen

Mesmerized, they dabbed their lips

Said, “Very nice. Very nice indeed. Quite the experience. But,”

Where was the Monkey when I needed him?

Dabbed their lips again

“This isn’t what we ordered.”

I checked the powdery suspension

Tilted my head at the curious error

Where did I go wrong?

My lemonade was fresh, full of zest

Nothing like they’ve ever had

As pink as the Monkey’s tongue

that first whispered confidence

Before it turned sour

• • •

Breadcrumb #424

MONICA LEWIS

Today was no sleep & coffee. apple dreaming through an old old window. brave with no bangs but cat-winked eyes & feeling good in this skin. sun was bright but unheavy, kissing brooklyn brownstones side by side by side. street tree-lined & alive. here, they own their homes, they work hard past bone to claim their homes their homes are homes not houses and family is home is second only to the gift of alive. you. are. alive. right here. on the train we talk we spill eagerly into each other. we open wide. we hit soho and st. marks and a sexy new bong with a hot pink mouth. a cab then a bar then soul-talking and tears. every moment the chance to start again new eyes new tools. the power in the pulse. then we puff giggle puff, giggle giggle giggle puff. then sing, sing shamelessly. you really are crazy-beautiful. 

but just remember that today, you cried.
you laughed, a lot.
you were present and patient.
open and blessed.
disappointed.
and then suddenly content.
tricked and saved by yourself.
remember that
each minute made the moments that made today absofuckinglutely flawless.

• • •

Breadcrumb #421

KIRSTEN SUNDBERG LUNSTRUM

My student is protesting biology class today, sitting out the cow heart dissection. She is ethically opposed, she tells me. She is against murder.

    “Me, too,” I nod. “Against murder, I mean, not science.” I smile.

    She means well, this girl. In her black lipstick and studded dog-collar choker, she means well, and I remember what it is to be a girl. I remember all too clearly what it is to be a girl who means well and who thinks meaning matters to anyone. I remember and so I say, “Why don’t you just sit this one out?”

    She is glad to be released. She thanks me. (See? Polite.)

*

    Later, after school, I buy myself dinner out. I am old enough to afford this kind of luxury now. I am old enough not to care that I’m a woman dining alone. I order bourbon and a steak. No—that’s not true. I order wine and a steak salad. (I’m not as carefree as I wish. I’m working on it. I’m a work in progress, as my students would say. YOLO, they’d say. Right, I’d add, but, you know, within reason.)

    The restaurant is in the town beside the town where I live. Sometimes I tell people I’m from this town instead, because it’s nicer, more beautiful and more gentrified than where I actually live. I’m not supposed to like this gentrification, but I do. I like the clean sidewalks and the baskets of petunias hanging from the streetlamps. I like the restaurant’s big windows looking out onto the bay, and I like the faux-industrial lighting over my table-for-one. I like the arugula and baby greens salad I’m served. I like the wide-mouthed glass of Malbec that the tidy young waiter serves and that I drink too quickly. And I really like the slim strips of medium rare arranged in a lovely, bloody splay atop my greens.

    As I eat, I think of my student. What I should have said to her was this: Someday, daughter, you will be hungrier than you are polite. Someday you’ll see a heart in a tin tray and think, “I knew it. Nothing but a blob of rubber muscle. Bloodless as a stone on a float of formaldehyde.” Someday, darling, you’ll choose the scalpel and won’t think twice.

Someday, daughter, you will be hungrier than you are polite.

    As I eat my steak, I think Beauty. I think Grass-fed days of August under a bluebell sky and fly buzz at the center-thrum of summer’s warm heart. I think: You only live once, whether bovine or human, so make the living good.

    I say to myself: LOVE, GRIEF, MELANCHOLY, DOUBT, naming those four pumping, hungry chambers of my mid-life heart.

    When the waiter returns to clear my plate, he asks after my meal. “It was delicious,” I say, smiling, polite. His sleeves are rolled to the elbow, and I notice the trace of veins at his bare wrist, blue as atlas rivers, blue as the bay beyond the window. I think: bluebell, blueblood, true blue, my blue heaven. On the receipt, I write out a generous tip and sign my name.

*

    Outside, after my dinner, the sky is just darkening. The sky is just sinking from one blue into another. Here by the bay, the wind smells like salt, like mud. Mineral and marrow. Breath and blood. I think of the heart and the waiter’s veins. I think: I just want someone to know me like a map.

    But, no, that’s not true. I’m just making connections to please myself. I’m just looking for a way to pull it all together. Isn’t everybody?

    Really, the night is just like most nights at that time of year. Really, there is a bit of wind, and I pull my sweater closer as I walk back to my car to drive home to the house where I live by myself in the town not as beautiful as this one. Still, I’m not unhappy. Please don’t misinterpret me. I want my meaning to be clear.

*

    What I should have said to my student is this: Who doesn’t love the knife every now and then? 

    What I should have said is that it can be difficult to tell your principles from your fear, your manners from your uncertainty.

    What I should have said was that when I say, I want my meaning to be clear, what I mean is, Can you see me?

    What I mean is, Aren’t you at least a little curious about what goes on inside us?

• • •