Girls and Boys
We were dressed as hoodlums in mini-skirts with candy cigarettes dangling from our lipstick. Mascara clumped our eyelashes. We wore rouge in perfect circles on our cheeks. The boys came up to us demanding skin, so we blew up balloons and tangled them into carnal sculptures. The boys caressed their balloons, excited further by the swell of plastic. We were then left to our own devices, which were a series of pulleys and levers that allowed us to circle above the fairgrounds. We flew in letter formations, spelling grade-school obscenities, until a minister noticed, and shot us down. One of us was badly injured, her wing having folded under her. When the onlookers noticed, beneath our pancake, the youth of our faces, they made clicking sounds in the back of their throats. A damning percussion. The minister would not be arrested, even as our chickadee lay there with bones rupturing her molt.
A wooly mammoth approaches the shore. A singular horn juts from his forehead. The bathers, under parasol, make passing remarks. It is better to concentrate on your art than your English, one dapper gentleman submits. He is dressed in scuba attire, appropriately; but also ballerina attire, inappropriately. An endless symphony hall lines the beachfront. A lady wears the miniature binoculars of operatic familiarity. She notices the extended horn of the mammoth and becomes excited in the way of her youth. She can remember in the cockles of her brain a sensuousness that will only fondle her in dreams. Hush dear, her husband remarks, not because of any outward utterance she has made, but because of an inward utterance that causes her to stroke her breast. If we knew why these beasts emerge, unwholesomely, from the sea every century or so, we might better be able to guard our women folk, so susceptible to nostalgia.
A railcar arrives in the middle of desolation. A girl enters and sees a mangy rat pacing the floor inside. He approaches her and asks her for the latest news. “There is no one left,” she sobs. After many days, she makes a nest for herself in the railcar. She adopts the mangy rat and begins to groom him with her fingers. Clumps of listless hair loosen from his skin and scabs flake off into piles at his feet. Soon he is smooth and smells like a newborn. She picks up the baby and peers into his face. She is startled to see two deep holes where his eyes should be. The baby speaks in the rat’s voice. “Please reach into these wells,” he says, pointing to his sockets. She reaches in and finds ropes that she pulls with care. On the end of each rope is a bucket brimming with water.
Kim Parko is a writer and visual artist living in Santa Fe, NM with her husband and dog. She teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in 3rd bed, The Bitter Oleander, Caketrain, Diagram, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, 5AM, and Fourteen Hills.
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