Mercedes Lucero is the author of the chapbook In the Garden of Broken Things (Flutter Press 2016) and winner of the Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award for Poetry. Her writing has appeared in New Orleans Review, Curbside Splendor, Paper Darts, The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, The Pinch, Heavy Feather Review, and Whitefish Review among others. She is a recent Glimmer Train “Short Fiction Award” Finalist and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is currently the Fiction Editor of Beecher’s and curates a collection of works dedicated to the experiences of autism and developmental disabilities through the online literary magazine, Spectrum Extract. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University and is currently pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Kansas.
Root Expressions are from her manuscript, Stereometry. * see note
Below is 3 of 5 in a series of weekly installments for Visitant.
◄ Previous installment: We had not yet learned √To dissolve.
Solution: A fire alarm goes off in our bedsheets and then again in our attics. When we are not looking, a fire alarm goes off inside of the television and in our cars. In the morning, a fire alarm goes off. In the chapel in the town where we smoked our first cigarette. A fire alarm goes off in our grandmother’s garden and we don’t talk about it. During your morning commute, a fire alarm goes off and then at night when we are dreaming. A fire alarm goes off because we don’t know how to announce that something is wrong. So, the fire alarm goes off when we sit in our chairs. The fire alarm is beneath our chairs, our desks, and in our dresser drawers because how do we tell another that we are not okay? Instead a fire alarm goes off as we steep the tea and again when we know it is time for school, time for the dentist, time for trips to our childhood town. Even when there is no sound, we know a fire alarm goes off because we have pressed our faces so many times against walls that vibrate violently.
* Author’s Note on Stereometry
It starts perhaps with thinking about space, about three-dimensional space and later, locating oneself within that space. Lately, I have been concerned with mathematics and arithmetic and seeking patterns within the arrangement of the universe. I gathered textbooks on geometry and cosmology, spent hours solving equations and memorizing theorems. I have made a list of questions related to my hypothesis for further inquiry:
- What are the geometrical properties of a body that turns into itself to feel its own curvatures?
- What is the area of the shape a body makes when it is filled with uncertainty?
- Is there an equation by which I might find the volume of resistance a body creates when it is told that it does not deserve to be erased?
I have surmised that if stereometry is the art and science of measuring solid bodies, then surely, there must also be a way to measure bodies that are not so solid. Surely, there must be a way to measure bodies that are made mostly of water. That cannot help but dissolve and evaporate. Mostly I have been thinking of what to say. Even I know sunlight can be too heavy on the skin.
[Mercedes Lucero | Fred E. Byrd]
►Next installment | Tell me the story √Of how I was born.