I live in the lavender gut of a horse, a beating heart just beyond the wall. And beyond that two old ladies sip tea on a white porch in the crabapple South, hoping for something that might squirrel up out of the ground, the age-old ground, the Southern ground, the ground at the top of a hill: a thin line of angels listening all boneless and hospitable from above, managing nothing with their tiny, modest, angel hands, hands that might just as well be days of the week. The long-gone Civil War is wearing a small red-and-gold cap once worn by an organ grinder’s monkey.
Somewhere a lady in a wedding dress and pink nails is staring hard at a bowl of plastic fruit, wondering if she’s made the right choice. And the word “choice” wedges open a wound, an abracadabra, that unwinds her back to childhood, a lost, footless, wasted time. Slippers come to mind from a fairy tale, a castle, a drawbridge, a fox, a road. A glass slipper!
A man pees out by the fence when what he’d rather do is cry, but he can’t because men don’t cry. He is pissing away like a clock tower, in the basement of which are buckets and ropes and a merry-go-round, not a real merry-go-round but an imagined one, made of egg whites whipped to a high sheen, then hand-shaped into horses and frozen stiff with slick, stainless steel poles driven straight through the horses’ backs so they can go up and down, up and down, in a monotony of music to please the children, the imaginary children. Children whose very wishing holds the world together.
But men don’t cry and a simple nudeness runs through the whole shebang like a pine forest all the way to the sea. Steadfast seagulls stand in the salty, shiny sand and stare at the flat, rolling water; seagulls looking wise but stupid. While the old white ladies sip their tea on the porch far away, the whiteness of the white ladies peering out from them like an aftermath of birch branches, a mangle of half-thoughts, a fermentation, something winding and lazy that turns old ladies’ gums from pink to gray. Gray. The South.
And everywhere that haunched and ribbed and opulent contraption canonized as “horse,” that mightiest of animals, that warm bowel of four-legged…what?…courage? now standing next to the barn. And why “lavender” exactly? As I sit in the stuck, fixed air of the clock-less casino that is horse, the boomp-boomp of the horse heart pounding steady as a tractor engine.
Somewhere it’s snowing. Somewhere a hungry bonging is made by a bell, maybe up North. But beneath the skin of things, in the teeth of things, in the hot damp of things, turned by the wheel of things, the up and down of things, about to make a choice of things, in the South of things, a man finishes peeing. And women finish whatever women finish, which is never finished. And Sadness unhorses itself into the tall, loose weeds. While a clandesence of angels looks down sheepishly.
A writer, speaker, and artist, Jon Pearson has been a cartoonist for the Oakland Tribune, an extra for the New York Metropolitan Opera, a college professor, and a mailman. His work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a Million Writers Award and has appeared in Baltimore Review, Barely South Review, Barnstorm, Carve, The Citron Review, Crack the Spine, Faultline, Forge, Hobart, Lake Effect, Pretty Owl Poetry, Reed Magazine, Sou’wester, Stickman Review, Superstition Review and elsewhere.
[image: Six angels looking down from heaven | Howgill]