Monday, June 25, 2007

Homage to my fellow Kenyon Reveiw Workshop participants (only they will get the jokes)

When Satan walked through the Garden of Eden garlic sprung up from his left footprint and an onion in the right. Marcy had always gone along with that. That stinky stuff followed bad people around. But maybe she had been getting it all wrong all these years. Maybe it’s that the Garden of Eden could not help itself but to yield fruit even in the presence of evil. After all, if Satan hadn’t gone skipping along and making garlic they would all be eating like the British.

Her sister didn’t keep garlic in her kitchen. Turned her nose up at garlic cranberry orange relish, and though their mother had long ago taught them both to make aioli Danielle preferred just to keep Miracle Whip. She was one of those maternal types. Or that’s at least how Danielle presented herself, and Marcy privately agreed that children would be a good accessory for her once she got around to it. Maybe it was just that she had that warm, glowing kindness, the kind that looked good ferrying around overachieving eight year olds in any vehicle she wanted so long as it was safe. Marcy would say a minivan but Danielle could pull off an SUV, it would probably go better with her bone structure anyway. She was not the kind of woman, however that made Marcy want to spend much time inside her house. Her sleek glossy exterior gave way to a kitchen of country knickknacks. Cutesy water glasses printed with flowers, a set of tablecloths with ducks parading across different color backgrounds, a spoon rest with a little boy in britches praying and the worst offenders: the fake crockery that lived in the gab between cabinets and ceiling. These sported a series of Amish girls in various stages of cow milking. When Marcy had arrived in her first tiny apartment and a sous-chef job to go with it with an even smaller salary, her sister had offered to set up her kitchen for her. It was a nice gesture if overly maternal and somewhat nineteenth century. Marcy politely declined.

This was before she took up with Jimmy. Jimmy claimed he was single, that he’d never been married before. But put the seat down without asking and kept a box of baking soda in the back of his fridge. Definitely married before, that or cheating.

Jimmy told her she had shoulder blades like tea saucers. Like her skin had been cut and saucers inserted in place of bone. And though he had not said it she knew that she had an entire tea service hidden in her body. Some of it was more obvious than others, the dainty tea cups she sported in lieu of breasts, the spoons that worked there way into her fingers, smooth round metal attached to the bumps of the palm then jutting out before budging out to form her bulbous fingertips. The tea pot sat down in her stomach making a slight paunch in her midsection. Not enough to comment on but enough to keep her self conscious in low rise jeans and too tight dresses. This was true and would normally make her think of a round earthy kettle, perhaps made of stone and able to endure great heat on its own, but that was not the fact of the matter. The tea pot that sat in her stomach was sterling. It arched up from the bulb it sat on, spout curling gracefully out to her left lung, handle curling inward touching the bottom of her right. And the ever rising lid crowded her diaphragm keeping her from ever getting a good deep breath. She wouldn’t tell where she kept the cream and sugar bowls. She thought that much should be obvious.

Jimmy’d made it through med school and was trying to make it as a plastic surgeon now. The thought of sliding things under people’s skins fascinated him be they silicon or porcelain. It gave Marcy the shivers. Jimmy shivered when she rustled the skins off garlic cloves, making papery piles on the counter, wedging the cloves under the flat side of her largest knife. He’d already left the kitchen by the time her fist came down on it. He made excuses on days when she’d make her favorite green garlic soup, the one so good she’d convinced her restaurant to put it on the cycle of daily soups. Same for when she made garlic spears with polenta. Their relationship didn’t last for long.

Marcy began to think maybe she was the evil one making her gazpacho and driving people away. And then she wondered if garlic wasn’t the mark of the devil but the mark of something evil leaving.

Highly Recommended