Cascadian Nocturne (Dim.)
By Erin Kirsh
The rainforest rains a lot. The rainforest is a city
the city has a perpetual motion sky, the city
is a snow globe where tiny figures drive tiny cars
through tiny puddles, from time to time, tiny cars hit
tiny squirrels that tiny city workers scrape from cement
grudgingly, and no tiny people mourn the tiny squirrels
in the tiny snow globe city that is a rainforest that rains a lot.
The tiny people carry tiny umbrellas and walk under
tiny awnings of struggling businesses that all look cozy
in the city that rains a lot. The tiny people working
in the tiny shop fronts make tiny salaries and have tiny worries
that look like the other tiny peoples’ tiny worries and if you
look closely, you will notice a cloud like 600,000 tiny
thought bubbles with even tinier winged dollar signs
inside them. The sky is adamant. It rains a lot in the city.
The tiny people slouch over bottles in the tiny nighttime
they clink together the tiny coins from their day’s tiny tips
and decide on tiny bowls of pasta with butter for their
tiny dinners. It is tasty, and the nutritional value is tiny.
They go to their tiny beds and dream ferocious dreams
that, though they won’t be remembered in the morning
don’t feel tiny at all. The sky quietly facilitates. It rains
a lot in the city. The city is a rainforest. It can be easy
to forget that.
By Erin Kirsh
The flea market stalls are all run by the elderly
selling off historied clothes, ugly
water damaged best sellers, small fonted
art vases, tchotchkes, and more for mere
dollars. One lady is selling her personal art
nobody stops at her stall. My stomach twists.
I wish I wanted those bright paintings more
than everyone else here, but I don’t. I turn
to the booth across, bare the scarcest
glance, and the white
haired woman latches onto me like a leech
sensing an opportunity for conversation, lists
the medications she must feed her small dog
who is reposed, grotesque, in a baby carriage.
I ask after a teapot I don’t need, lovely, gilded
like ceilings of hotels in the roaring twenties
but I can’t justify spending
$5. Yesterday’s tips were okay but the first
of the month is marching
like a hideous parade
toward me and I have nothing
to celebrate, no confetti to throw.
On weekdays, high schoolers
from the local secondary come
in and have lunch. Every day
they pay with a new $100 bill I can barely make
change for. They leave negligible tips. Order
extravagantly. Leave half over. It is hard
not to think about them looking
at these lined faces manning their stands
hoping for a sale
the way their parents hoped
for rain. Income for dog medications, or their own.
My stomach threatens
vomit and I can’t ignore it. I am eight
days late, every gurgle is ominous, a signpost
babies ahead, do not enter. I want to leave.
I want to buy the old woman’s art I don’t like.
I want not to be
a pregnant waitress in my twenties.
I stay and stay, but I don’t buy anything.
I often think about eighth grade
graduation not because it’s a frivolous, unnecessary
milestone, nor because that was my first
slow dance, held loose by a boy
who smelled like string cheese while Elton pounded
out tender keys, but because the only teacher
who was never impressed with me congratulated my parents
on having a child
who could be anything she wanted to be.
I think of this at least once a week as I fold my server’s apron
into my dirty backpack, scrounge together change
for a float, apply braggy taglined moisturizers
to stern, unwavering smile lines.
Mistakes Were Made
By Erin Kirsh
“To err is human, to water, fish.” – Tyler D’Souza
I wear them like a shroud of mourning
or twist them
like balloon animals
into something amusing, something I can give
Statements of Fact
By Erin Kirsh
My son threw up tarantula legs, which is odd because I didn’t serve him any.
There are rolling power outs in the neighborhood, but if I sat on the rooftop, I could see lights glimmer in unknown windows, illuminate odd inhabitants and their odder habits.
The dark makes strange and even though the space isn’t really different it heightens my senses, I count steps between rooms.
Outside my window in grey light I see that water has pooled in the hollow where the earth reclaimed the mouse my son hunted, took back its fur and brains and bones.
The divot is deep enough that a passing raccoon dips sharp little hands in and drinks, deep enough to drown bugs, everything can danger.
I still think about that video of the raccoon going to wash cotton candy in a puddle so as to clean it before eating, then watching in hurt confusion as it dissolves.
I think that video was so popular because it feels like a metaphor.
The universality of the metaphor might speak to the failure of the nation state.
When I don’t like to think about things anymore I make to-do lists.
I need to buy more surface cleaner, for the tarantula legs.
Erin Kirsh is a writer and performer living in Vancouver. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in The Malahat Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, The /t3mz/ Review, EVENT, subTerrain, CV2, The Maynard, QWERTY, and Geist, where she took second place in their postcard short story contest. She recently made strawberry banana bread that didn't give anyone indigestion. Visit her at www.erinkirsh.com or follow her on twitter @kirshwords.