7 Things I Know About Her (A Quietly Observed Autobiography)

[Written last year as an assignment in imitation of “7 or 8 Things I Know About Her (A Stolen Biography)” by Michael Ondaatje.  Surprisingly applicable at points since.]

Her Father’s Poetry

After her father died they found boxes and boxes of notebooks in the garage, mostly spiral-bound in varying shades of yellow and with varying amounts of coffee stains.  Each notebook was densely packed with poems, a constant effusion of words that ran along each lined page at breakneck speed, occasionally tumbling in on themselves and twisting around, filling every square centimeter with her father’s thoughts.

The Bull Dogs

Adorable as puppies, now when she takes the three of them on walks around the block other dog-walkers cross the street to avoid her.  Mothers tug their children closer, cars speed up to pass her.  Sometimes one of the large dogs will climb onto her bed in the middle of the night and curl up to sleep, leaving a puddle of drool and a pile of short, coarse hair that makes her late to sunrise yoga class.

The Pool Table

In the back room of her parents’ house was an ancient pool table, a leviathan of green felt and stained wood and sheet slate that squatted immovably under two hanging lights encased in emerald shades.  We would play pool, and I would watch the light dance like malachite in her eyes, but mostly we would spend hours lying underneath the pool table, staring upwards into the slab of rock, stargazing into the whorls and eddies of the miniature galaxies that we had slowly carved into it one winter afternoon at a time.

First Criticism

Her mother decides to take up cartomancy.  She gets her first Tarot reading at six months: The Star—optimism.  The Lovers—romance.  The Tower—catastrophe.  Her mother looks across the table with watery eyes.

Listening In

When we meet for the second time, in the checkout aisle: “Have we met before?”  She has a basket full of flaxseed, zucchini, whole-grain pasta; I have ten packs of Kraft Easy Mac.  She said the same thing the first time we met.

Self-Criticism

“You have a beautiful aura, and what do I have?  This brown sheen, like pond water.  And don’t tell me it doesn’t exist—you’ve seen how cats won’t look at me.”

Fantasies

She eats a strictly vegan diet, but dreams about veal cutlets.  One fantasy claimed fulfilled: she took six months off school to “find herself,” and says she succeeded.

Reprise

The tower we built together came tumbling down one night under the stars, and she disappeared.  She found herself—but now she’s looking for us.  She’s looking for our tower’s stones and bricks and mortar, but they’ve been scattered in the sea and neither of us knows where to look.

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