Journal: War and Peace

Lake Michigan; dawn. I hobble, deporting self awkwardly, dodging goose shit. Canadian geese won’t leave, nothing Homeland Security can do.  Arrived on tail of a hurricane; worse, from Lakeview condo the maddening drone of motorized water toys is hardly conducive to the muse. Take Broadway bus south to atelier for vouchers leaving barely a fistful of dollars. Monetary monitoring embarrasses. 

To Cultural Centre for Mozart’s quintet for clarinet, free-gratis; run right into fellow artist Kenneth; we walk by the shape-shifting lake to Oak and iconic, beacon-like John Hancock Tower; watch bewitched in a stage-lit enclave trainee trapezists in tentative flight, then lie on the sea wall sun-flushed. My favourite blue vest-top barely meets my skirt, revealing flesh which he fingers lightly. We move on in utter serenity. Not a breeze stirs; people back-lit, set against colour-tones of Seurat.

Treat K to Balake Sissoko on Kora / Paciugo’s for late night gelati. He reciprocates with Walgreen's voucher; ten percent-off, one item, non-sale. If I was remiss in mentioning my ex, he was his Colonoscopy. So he doesn’t have the wit to woo, so what?

Next morning, Argo on Division inexplicably closed, with deep apologies. I repair to Caribou Coffee with defiant pain-au-raisin from House of Fine Chocolate; get numbness in lumbar from hard wooden chair. 

No response from K re request to borrow saw, a flimsy opening for him to call round.  I write again, putting Saw Point in the subject line; go painting, splashing clashing colour in slashing, gestural strokes. 

Person ahead of me in H. of F. C. has achingly complex requirements. Eventually, gorge on poppy-seed pastries, take cheese and raisin Danish to go through glittering mosaic underpass to Belmont. Get bitten rotten by clouds of gnats swarming over goose shit or dropped rotting fruit from surprising orchard trees by harbour. 

Gutted Borders on Mich is gone; I’m looking for what’s solid and all around seems quicksand. Time to move on and I must. I stand buffeted by the pirouetting wind among crackly dry leaves that rasp across the concrete lake path. Have never done New York alone; fear being held at knife point and forced to eat cream cheese with lox on a bagel.

Reversing truck’s monotonous high-pitched beeping; cacophonous Caterpillars ripping up sidewalks; dust, always dust as Din City kicks up its racket.  

But this city that spoils peace also gives it. Last night, the lake’s pale blue surface lifting and rippling like a gossamer skin; a blood-orange wash creeping up from the horizon daubed yachts molten-gold, turned tops of masts to tips of cigars and Crown Point to hotplate as last rays burnished its vertical curves.                      

On to New York on spoils from paintings; am a Fauve apparently. Bum cheeks killing me; declare high wooden chair in Au Bon Pain at La Guardia a pain in the ass, but framed by the Belle Epoque mirror my face an emoticon, mouth curved upwards.   

Copyright © 2011 Jacqueline Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Published in Ambit literary magazine issue 223


                                                    Fading faculties, fainting goats

I go down at dawn to make tea, the national bevy never touched before; it soothes, apparently. While the kettle boils I glimpse through the steam, myself in a previous edition. I’m the Mommy, brown and brave in this curling photo; shoeless in Greece, rucksack on back, my little one Koala- style, in front. I wipe mist from the mirror and peer in. I don’t see myself; I’m elsewhere, frozen in time, a week, five time zones, one aching heart ago, still on the road in the U.S.of A.

I’d passed homeland security – I do / do not bring: disease agents, cell-cultures, snails or soil. We’d laughed or gasped from East to Mid-West, my Russian-doll baby / small child / magnificent grown woman and I. 

We drove - she in the driving seat, I with the map!! - through Atlantic pioneer towns of pastel-clad houses, where jewel-bright leaves drifted in tasteful amounts. We drank Gin in log cabins, where earth-smelling mountain towns dampened by rapids, stream through the Catskills with film-set facades. On trails perpendicular we climbed to Bald Knob – with no little ribald remarking!! – as sunbeams pierced leaves of red, gold and lime, like stained glass, and as summit mist lifted its veil like a flirt, for tantalising seconds, then closed in once more. 

My navigating skills are not what they were! We searched on in the gloom, where mountains loom over forests, for Robert Frost’s birthplace - we’d taken the road less travelled too often! By moonlight Anna read from a hand-crafted sign, ‘Fainting goats, and all kinds of gifts’. I squinted helpfully: farting goats? 
Needing neither, and still off course, we pressed on.

My girl turned thirty that month; who was Mother in this rite of passage? Anna packed a powder-blue fleece to warm me, took the first bite of my apple, to keep my bridge work from harm. We bought a seven dollar reflexology kit and I pummelled her feet in specified places – connected it said, to the pelvis.

A lasting image of me and my daughter, on the forecourt of ‘Comfort Inn’: we hugged crushing goodbyes – au revoirs! – and as Moms are wont, I pointed to her feet… you know where your ovaries are, don’t you darling?’

Copyright © 2006 Jacqueline Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Published in ‘Derek and more microfiction’ Leaf books