December 8

glass shards that’s for remembrance

I spent all day walking around downtown doing my Christmas shopping, which I like to do all in one day because it makes me feel more like an elderly lady from a small town in England who goes in to London once a year to do her shopping and then staggers home on the train with a load of parcels, “parcels” I tell you not “bags” or “packages,” and possibly sees a murder happening in a car of a train going the opposite direction and then, mirabile dictu (this is the kind of thing I’m pretty sure elderly ladies from small towns in England say all the time), manages to solve the murder. Ok, so that was Miss Marple, but my point stands: All at once, in the town center, is the best way to do your Christmas shopping. If we were meant to do our shopping online or in big box stores, we wouldn’t have been given souls, not that I believe we actually were given souls or that there is any such thing as a soul or anyone to do the giving, but you know what I mean.

a snow globe
in a snow globe
in an evidence locker

Other Christmas traditions I feel strongly that everyone who observes Christmas should observe:

  • You must have a real Christmas tree. Don’t fight me on this because you will lose.
  • You should hang up a stocking no matter how old you are. True, there’s no such thing as Santa—I figured this out through sheer force of logic when I was three and still don’t understand how anyone maintains faith in Santa for longer than that—but either someone who lives with you should fill the stocking for you or you should fill it for yourself because you deserve to reach deep into a woolly toe for a treat on Christmas morning.
  • You should sing Christmas carols at some point during the season, I don’t care how, why, or with whom, but I’m pretty sure that something about singing Good King Wenceslas winds your brain up for another year. And you don’t want your brain to just wind down in the middle of the year, do you?

a squirrel scrambling
across the roof…
I still feel imaginary

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December 7

I’m thinking of this blog, this month, as an Advent calendar, a thing I have a slight obsession with because I like to count and I like Christmas. If you do one thing every day in the month of December you can feel time obligingly passing and heading like an arrow straight for Christmas, and also then you have done twenty-five things, which is satisfying because it’s five squared, a substantial round but also square number.

four calling birds the smoke rises faster than I can count it

December 6

The first time I meet the daughter, we’re eating grocery store sushi—in fact, we’re eating it in the grocery store, under dim fluorescent lights, next to a window looking out on the falling dark of early autumn. Our reflections take shape in the window as the dark grows.

not a family anymore
all at once
the geese rise

The nine-year-old is suspicious of me; she doesn’t have any more idea than I do what I’m doing here. I’ve forgotten how to make conversation with a nine-year-old. I keep asking her the annoying, dumb grown-up questions I swore I would never ask and she keeps giving me the annoying, dumb answers I deserve. To add insult to injury, both she and her father are more proficient with their chopsticks than I am.

fumbling for my pepper spray the way leaves redden

Hoping for distraction, we open our fortune cookies, but none of the futures we find there are even wrong enough to laugh about. Embarrassed, we look away from each other, toward the dark window, where we see only our own blurred reflections, trapped here in the present, forming a wavering triangle.

not the underworld
just the silence
of no more cicadas

“What are we doing next?” she asks, and her father, crumpling his fortune, tells her, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

unearthing potatoes it will only get colder

December 5

Jess

He says his name is Jack but as it turns out his name is not Jack and many other things he says about himself turn out not to be, in the strictest sense, true. However, his real name also begins with J and is four letters long, so is it a lie, really? He doesn’t seem to think so, so you decide not to, either. How much of what someone says is supposed to be true, anyway? How much of the truth do you really need to know?

today
my
eyes
aren’t
real
only
those
delphiniums

 

December 4

how are you
doing
how’s it
going what’s
up
how are
things
how are
you
what’s going
on
hey there
hi

how are you
feeling
what are
you
doing what
are
you
thinking

do you have
anything to
say to
me do I
have
anything to
say to
you
what is
today what
is
tomorrow
what the hell
was yesterday

passing clouds a text alert

freezing into crystals what’s left of the dialogue

plot summary…rain into snow

December 3

geese
departing
in
imaginary
formations

It’s hard to write fiction these days. I blame this on the feeling that everything that’s happening is fiction—that we’ve walked sideways, or gone through a wardrobe, or dreamed ourselves into a world where you’re forced, every hour or so, to hit yourself on the forehead and mutter, “Where the hell am I?”

I ask
what they answer
chickadee

This part of the day—the mystified, head-banging part—is the only part of it that feels real. The rest is like the minute just after you wake up when you haven’t left the dream world but haven’t fully arrived in the real one either—when you look at your surroundings and want to weep because it isn’t the world you remember.

probably not forgiven yet grackles

December 2

The thing about crossword puzzles is that all the words in them are on leashes and have been taught to do tricks. Words like that never ask difficult questions or haunt your dreams. They curl up obediently next to you and keep you warm while you rest your brain. You tell yourself that you’ll turn back to wild words eventually—when the fever subsides, when the pain dulls. Meanwhile, you’re accustoming yourself to being entertained by extended paws and subservient positions.

A state of bored restlessness: 5 letters.

this way
to the egress…
the shock of cold air