Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 28
Spring, 2018

Featured painting, Etude Catalan 1 by Jean Wolff.

New Works

Annie Blake

Tale of Two Hills

As I stirred spaghetti into boiling water on a hot day I was reminded that I had been in limbo too long. My mother always told me our sister appeared to her after she shot herself in the mouth. She said she was in a white gown and she shimmered. And so she concluded that she had been saved. But I don't think she really believed that. Because she herself was dead.

There was a plate of root vegetables and green beans on the wrong side of the bench. So the only way I could transfer mincemeat into the frying pan was by swiveling my arm over boiling water. I only stopped when some plopped into the pot and the water scalded me.

Don't be misguided. I am messy. You can barely walk into my room. I barely have space for my wrists. But I am a perfectionist. I'm not allowed to make the wrong decision about anything. So I usually avoid making decisions altogether. I get a thrill out of hoarding things. Nothing trills my skin more than getting something for nothing.

The world owes me.

I have hired an architect. Not my human husband—a second husband. He is very resilient. He laughs at me when Hitler and I have a bubble bath together. Hitler kisses my feet. And I alternately kiss his. My second husband sings loudly when this happens. He has learnt to let me have it my way.

He will eventually teach me that sane people have caused more destruction than mad people.

When I shoot men, I play dead for three days. I never get caught because I become invisible. When men trample on me, all I feel is a sensation running down my body. For I am like the earth. Everyone wants to use me without replenishment. The most difficult thing I have to do is sacrifice myself without feeling like I've been bitten.

I am hanging like a hammock in prone position. Tied with rope from my ankles and my wrists—over a deep body of water.

One of my kids crouched next to my chest. She told me she wanted me to wake up. She was feeling very hungry. I put my gun away in my drawer. I should get rid of it. But I wasn't ready. I'm not good at parting with things. I might need it again in a hurry. People take more notice of my needs when they see I have no qualms pointing a gun. I poured my girl some milk and told her to eat five Shabbat candles.

I sat on the floor in the bathroom. And stared at my green bathtub for three hours. I cut open my wrists. I was looking for veins like stems of roots—thorned stems of roses. I changed my name to Ēostre.

My house was haunted. It was in another house because the other one had to be renovated. Every time I turned off a tap, someone kept turning it on again. The lady with breasts like hills kept turning them on. She was a transformative edge. And she tucked herself inside the water's mouth in the bath. I spent a long time sweeping its lips tight like dirt piled up in the middle of a kitchen floor. Mist has built up there like a stone wall—a tomb to the ceiling.

She didn't really like it when I took things for free because even though I lived in the poorest suburb in the city, I had the most opulent house. She knew money meant more to me than money. A house meant more to me than a house. I was proud of my house because I flaunted the tallest chimney.

Parsimony and obstinacy are like the shoelaces of two shoes tied together.

That's why I wasn't ready to turn in my gun. I locked that drawer with a key. And I hid the key in the chimney's flue. No one's ever thought to look there because it was the shape of a rectangular box. It looked rational enough—a tall poppy snapped from above the ground—a coffin given to soldiers—their gift for stirring blood with gloves on. With the hands of sane people inside.

My parents hated my questions. Because they had roots. They dangled like loose teeth. So they built pockets for me in leather coats so I could slip my questions in there. But I started to feel a bit awkward. I wasn't sure how many more keys I would be able to fit in there. My pockets were getting heavy and it was hard to walk around or drive a car because the art of maneuverability had become near impossible.

I saved my child from drowning once. I saw her sinking like a stone. She was newborn. Her face was as red as hot peppers. I turned her upside down until she drew breath.

When I banged into the television in our good room, I had my first panic attack. The living room of my childhood was a Show and Tell room. No eating. Rarely used for living. Once I dropped a shot of whiskey on the carpet. Alcohol was strictly used for sore teeth or insomnia and prohibited for pleasurable pursuits. Only my dad was ever allowed to access the liquor cabinet.

I used my mom's upholstery cleaner to get rid of the smell. She didn't notice. Anyway, I thought I broke the television. And when my dad thudded in to see what I had done, I froze and turned into a clam. My lips locked. My only possession was a pearl. I hung on to the pearl so hard in my mouth that I bruised the hinges of my fingers.

I hid in a wardrobe for three days. It was the only place I could lie supine and out of a box. Our sister found me in a deep sleep.

The bath was full of water. There were serranoes in it. Charred—almost black like when blood comes out during surgery. Wine—trickling down my skin of stones. I didn't understand how I was supposed to bathe myself in a bath as hot as that. I just hotfooted it like sand on a scorcher. Whenever I lay down on the mist, I became blind and deaf. The spice was unbearable.

My delusion was deeper than my resurrection. It was easier to sponge bath myself at the sink.

Maybe I could fill myself with spirits. Drink—till my delusion turned from whirlwinds to water. But I didn't want Nietzsche to worry about me. When I say spirits I don't mean drink. I've never been drunk on alcohol. I'm too stingy and too controlling. But I have been drunk on religion.

When a little girl, I used to put myself in a system of prayer. First it was a harmless box. That was the only way my mother could love me. When the boots of roots starting lifting the lid off a lake, she stopped loving me again. She was afraid because my questions were really hers. And they weren't answerable in the world above water.

Here was the lady again. With breasts as plump as hills. I worked out her name was Keturah. The first thing I wondered about her was whether she was a virgin.

Sometimes she looked like a peg. She would couple things all day. She was made out of grey willow. She had smooth skin and her hair was curly like cooked spaghetti. She was graceful and balanced like a flamingo on one leg. She could twine herself around anything like a sapling. I have never felt anyone so soft.

She drank a lot of water from the bathtub and that made her as tensile as bubble gum. She walked around with a wedding gown on. And out of her back's skin, a fish tail sprouted. She didn't bother with clocks or pressure valves. She was made of cloven wood. She made me feel so happy and when she combed my hair with fish bones we often doubled up with laughter. She never hung me out to dry. She rolled around the room like she was floating on the moon. Her limbs and head were wide apart making the points of a pentagon like a circle.

My biological mother was different. She was a flower who shrank like a spider when sprayed with insecticide. She transplanted her limbs with those of the seed-head of a dandelion and waited until she crumbled like my wall. Because dandelions are brittle silk; skeletal, and that is what the ego finds easy to eat.

Loss and nostalgia are different.

Nostalgia is what you feel when you learn your past world is uncapturable. My mother made a schism in stone walls—her widening cleavage was the initiator of my haunting. I was listening to her voice on a recording and trying to accept her body was dead.

She is a beautiful room without windows. A brass bed slept in by lovers who only ever become strangers.

I touched Keturah's hair with my fingertips. It was as red as a lion's mane. I felt satiated and as condensed as bones. She was a hearth on a rained cobblestone path. Her back was bruised. She attached herself to me and held me together. The water was up to our knees. The ceiling was up to our waist. I could feel she was a virgin.

When the big wind came down from the ceiling, she pegged me to the sky. She kept my clothes intact so I didn't become too porous and absorbable because she knew I had to grow a little stronger. The water was rising too fast so she turned us into a teapot and let the water bubble over. She made sure I stayed safe and never turned into a tree. Because when trees grow old and dry they can't adjust and spiral and swirl. And that's how we die. When gales come, trees rattle like crumbs in their crust. Some break off when lightning strikes and some become smacking sticks.

I wanted to become braided Challah bread—take the crown of its dough and burn it as a sacrificial offering. Become the essence of Essene bread.

I sat in a rocking chair in a desert for forty days. I tried to become supple—tried to find something to curl myself around. My second husband wasn't funny anymore. It was like watching television. When people burst out laughing, I withdrew because I felt tragedy in what other people perceived as comedy.

I found a Beatrix Potter book and cut out its core. I threw the outline of the book away— in a wastebasket full of pencil shavings. I put the telephone receiver back on the hook.

I called Hitler again because I desperately needed to be distracted. I sipped champagne with him. He splashed the suds in my face and after a while I started to suffer from solar retinopathy. The bubbles were as shiny as pearls.

Hitler was married for forty hours before he shot himself in the mouth. His wife swallowed cyanide. Examiners could tell because she looked like she tried to take off her face and glue it on again.

Swimming is like surgery. All jewelry must be removed.

Hitler was impotent for most of his life. He couldn't play dead because he was an insomniac.

There was going to be a wedding on Saturday. I felt sad because I realized Hitler did nothing except eat me like a red tart. I woke up feeling the taste of salty milk—its shrapnel in my mouth. He only loved me because I was the Queen of Hearts. A Plaque of Hearts. A plague—an activist of love.

Love is usually painted on cardboard and we live in it like a box. The purpose of most lives is to serve a permanent prescription of barbiturates and amphetamines.

I have spent too much of my life hoarding boxes.

Hitler's serranoes to the world were prickles to me. The apotheosis was letting my pearl go. So I showed him my pearl hatching in my mouth. My tongue rose like a snake's spine bridged with pegs. I was finally ready to cup my hands like a chalice and we drank my milk together. A menorah was floating between us.

A flash of blackout.

Because the door was reiteratively swinging open like it was clapping hands with the wall. Darkness first arrived when I was young. It filled me like a geyser. It filled me quickly because I was a room with a floor and a ceiling and a missing door. Keturah bought the indelible scent of light with her. She was a Zoroastrian temple. She was the sweet sweat of procreation.

Of deliverance.

Keturah rolled Hitler in a bubble until it burst. He then became a wheel.

And the limbs of his body crisscrossed with mine like a cat's cradle. We didn't feel like a box anymore. Or a kist like a coffin. He started to grow his hair until he developed dreadlocks like a surfer. His hair locked like our bodies did. His dreadlocks felt like serpents. He grew to love singing. The lithe fingers of two people entwining us felt sacrosanct. We were untouchable.

The moon was between us. My mirror. I saw the knob of a peg. Keturah reminded me to dive into the glass head first. I could smell incense.

The acquisition of patience came from allowing my child the time to find her most loved plate on a rack. Becoming her sweetmeat.

Of me fitting into a finger of time when my hands had nowhere else to go.

When my newborn sings, she sounds like a choir.

The moon looks like fire under the mirror. My architect is dousing my houses with electricity. His hair is long and wet—styli of water coming from the tight nozzle of a shower.

There is lightning in my house. The architect is licking my bones clean. There are moths resting on my skeleton. The billowing of smoke that used to pour from the chimney is now sweet milk gushing like a geyser. Keturah is pulling out my head.

Her fingers are tendrils. Her hand—a sepal—handing out a golden crown.

Annie Blake is an Australian writer, thinker and researcher. She started school as an ESL student and was raised and, continues to live in a multicultural and industrial location in the West of Melbourne. She is a wife and mother of five children. Her main interests include psychoanalysis, metaphysics and metacognition. She is currently interested in arthouse writing which explores the surreal nature and symbolic meanings of unconscious material through dreams. Her writing is a dialogue between unconscious material and conscious thoughts and synchronicity.

She can also be found on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Goodreads.