Almost Normal

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Reading about Roz Chast’s parents in her cartoon memoir

‘Can’t We Talk about Something Pleasant?’ makes me feel

Almost normal. I do know how to use the toaster,

I can change a light bulb, open cereal packets neatly

so it doesn’t look ‘as if a raccoon had tried to get into them’

AND I was comfortable using the new stove after only

six months. Compared to them I’m a genius.

 

Meeting the Parents

But I do ‘walk around with my feelers out’ like her old man

and ‘get distracted by interesting words thereby missing

the larger point of what was being said’. And I am a fast eater

like her mum. ‘Stop gobbling your food’, I was told as a kid,

[and am still told from time to time].

 

I’m only on page 30 of this 230 page memoir but I’m enjoying

meeting the parents. It’s like meeting me in a book.

 

  • what book are you enjoying at the moment?
  • Have you ever ‘met yourself’ in a book? how did it feel?

Here’s Another Nice Mess You’ve Gotten Yourself Into

371px-Laurel_&_Hardy_reading_The_New_Movie

after deserting me for a few days

my editor has a change of heart

and decides to return.

Yay! I say to myself.

Says he’s been reading my posts, and how I’ve been floundering without him.

You’ve pulled three posts in two days, he says. You’re sinking.

I know, I say, hanging my head in shame.

Look, he says. It’s no good fighting it. We’re a team. Conjoined twins if you like.

Like Laurel and Hardy? I suggest.

He smiles.

Same arrangement? I say.

Yes, he says. You write. I clean up the mess.

The Girl with Incarnadine Hair

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“Sorry, you have to move.”

“What?”

“You don’t belong here. You’ll have to move.”

“But I was here first. You saw me walking up and down with my multitudinous strands of hair incarnadine.”

“That’s it.”

“What’s it?”

“You can’t have ‘multitudinous strands of hair incarnadine’ in a poem about waiting for a poem to pull up like a bus.”

“Why not?”

“It’s too heavy, too overwritten. Too Shakespearean. It changes the tone of the poem totally. It’s like two colors that clash.”

“But …”

“I’m sorry. You’ll have to move. I can’t fit you in.”

“Okay”, she says, shaking her multitudinous strands in a flurry of petulance, “I’ll write a poem of my own and guess what?”

“What?”

“You won’t be in it.”

And with that she gets out her notebook from her backpack and begins writing, furiously as Lady Macbeth cleansing her blood-soaked hands in the basin.

Anytime Soon

writer

The poems whiz past like buses ‘Not in Service’.

There is no time table.

No bus shelter.

Only a sign saying, ‘Bus Stop 29’..

Anywhere is good as anywhere else.

That’s what Raymond Carver meant when he said:

Be At Your Station.

Be alert, open.

The deus ex machina will come.

Still, I’ve been waiting here for the last twenty minutes

With the girl with incarnadine hair.

It will be good if the poem or bus pulls up anytime soon.