Taken

flash fiction, pastel sketch & photo by Elizabeth

TAKEN

I’m haunted that it happened here. Thought this was a safe community. Yet Tammy took that woman’s diamonds, clothes, and almost took her life. She starved that poor woman under the guise of helping a shut-in. Tami helped herself instead. 

Never met the woman even though she lived across the street. Didn’t even know she was there for the longest time. Nice home but I thought it was deserted—blinds drawn, never saw anyone go in or out. That is till after I heard Tammy tell a neighbor, “…poor thing…broke her hip…no, no children…needs help.” After that I saw Tammy walking a runt of a dog that trembled and skittered as she drug it down the street till it did its business then half-choked itself lunging against the leash toward home. I’d see Tammy go in around dusk and leave not much after with bags in each hand and always two more tucked under her arms. 

I’m embarrassed I didn’t think about it till the deputy asked if I’d seen anything unusual. This was right after the woman’s son came. Apparently she did have a child and he fired Tammy and packed what he could in this tiny trailer hitched to his cigar box of a car. The deputy asked what I’d seen—wanted to know how often Tammy was there, if I’d noticed her wearing fancy jewelry, or how much weight my neighbor had lost the past few months. But all I’d seen was brown bags and that scaredy-dog and how skeletal that woman looked in her boy’s arms when he carried her to his car.

Thank you to the editor of Doorknobs & Body Paint for first publishing this piece.

Communion

poem & photo by Elizabeth
COMMUNION

Dividing an elementary class into 
boys on one side 
                                  girls on the other 
invites each to imagine the other group has 
                  cooties! cooties! cooties!
and leaves each vulnerable to those who thrive on power

yet united, we eliminate disease, produce
thriving meccas of cultural exchange,
launch ourselves through the universe….

If you think you’re invulnerable to ads and rhetoric,
think about a lemon—
thrust your teeth through thick
yellow skin to release zest’s 
zinging scent and swallow 
tart 
puckering 
juice.

That saliva now beading your gums is stimulated from the reptilian
brain targeted by an arsenal of ads and six-second sound bites that 
riddle information till deception sounds like truth, our sanctity 
plundered by those who weave their children in the woof of power 
while snipping out poor to be fodder for war.

Girls-boys, red-blue, hick-elite, white-colored, gay-straight…
I can keep going since division perpetuates itself and
blinds us to our need to be touched and to touch

for we are not spiders, autonomous from birth, but must be suckled 
once the thin film of mucus is wiped from our mouths; 
if we didn’t thrive on touch our exterior would be hardened shell
rather than this overlay of neural sensors telling us when to swat,
run, rest, embrace

                                                  the Pleiades in every cell,
                                                                       the bell, the smile, the knife—

yet the nourished thrive amid those with hunger that
sinks skin between bones as the body 
digests its own flesh to survive—
this inequity perpetuated through our mad divisions—

yet madness is tricky. We think of it as 
                                                   moon howling
                              running naked through streets
                                   invisible companions

but true madness skulks where plans are laid 
                               to destroy this planet many times over
          as if this could be done more than once    
          as if this is the best use of our lives

madness in the reverent joy of orchestrating Armageddon                      
          as if some are connected 
          and others not

madness in numbing ourselves to suffering
                                                in ways that cause more suffering

     but before squaring off into us and them
                        remember glass houses 
                               and heal thyself
         for unraveling the madness of this world begins with me. 
                                        It begins with you.

Yet how do we wrap around the odd ones, the violent ones,
the ones who’d sooner slit a throat than say hello?

I know only that we start with kindness and cherishing 
the children we create for they are our future, inheritors, 
providers, while we are holy catalysts for communion.

If we choose to eliminate hunger, rein in our mad greed for power,
cherish this blue planet’s miraculous life, what force could shatter 
our bond for each life is no more than kidney, cell, atom, 
of the same body coalesced from stars and seas—
dust to sky to ocean to algae to fish to bird to human, 
we are one being
                                                    the Pleiades in every cell,
                                                                   the bell, the smile, the knife—
                                 why not live as if we chose this sacred life?


Thank you to the editors of The Tishman Review for first publishing this poem.

Vision

Joya, photo by Elizabeth

Is there a more mysterious idea for the artist than to imagine the way nature is reflected in an animal’s eye. How does a horse see the world? Or an eagle? Or a deer or a dog? What a miserable convention that leads us to place animals in a landscape that pertains to our eyes rather than plunging ourselves into the animal’s soul in an attempt to understand his vision of things.

Franz Marc