Friday, 8 August 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "The Expert" by Arielle Greenberg

The Expert

    I eat salt when I am thirsty.  Until my nose runs salt and then I cry.  Until my lips go numb and then I drink a grain of something which dehydrates straight from the heart, the lung, an array of bluish organs.
    I know thirst very well because I once belonged to that organization.  It was a long time ago — I was in college and it was part-time, mostly mornings.  Thirst loved me and recently, in fact, sent me a $250 check out of nowhere.  Just for completing the census.  Just for existing in a time of great pain.  It's difficult to accept such a generous gift, but thirst is an affluent and guilty employer.
    Thirst looks like a pool, an indoor swimming pool you install in the bathroom, a pool with a strong current.  A lap-swimmer's pool for city dwellers.  Thirst comes in the back of The New York Times Magazine.
    In a crowd of women poets, eating, as often not eating, I am lonely.  I eat from the bottom of the mines up, as if I can devour my way out, as if my throat is an open shaft, as if the white does not burn, as if the language has that fine sting, and I am working, a salaried Girl Friday to the salt.

"The Expert" appears in Arielle Greenberg's first collection, Given (Wave Books, 2002). You can learn more about Greenberg and her work here on her website.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Soft Touch" by Arielle Greenberg

Soft Touch

He once got hit by a playground and it was all over for him with pockets.  He couldn’t eat breakfast for all the empty spaces.  Holes distracted him.  It was “as a child.”  But he wandered like a blank, sputtered, lost it. 
The mind is a soft substance, a kind of pudding.  Two million people have it, and it’s caused by things we think are fun.  By entertainment.  Everyone has been touched by it in some way.  Soft touch. 
When we married and I sat with him in a park or office, he would want to call me at home.  “I want to call Cathy.”  And I would say, “But I am Cathy.  I’m here.  I’m your wife.”  And he’d say, swingset, “I know you are, but I want to call the other Cathy.”  And so later at home there’d be a recording of his voice on the machine: “I just wondered what you were doing right now.”  A machine.  A recording.
Was the other Cathy living in our house like a sock, like a closet, a shadow, a snake?  Was I another Cathy?  She became a palatable oatmeal on my tongue, on his.  Me.  The other Cathy.  The other wife.  The one he’d call when I was right by him. 
“Is the other Cathy like me?” I asked him.  “Oh, no,” he said.  “You’re a lot easier to talk to.”  And I felt a little bad for Cathy then.   The other me.  But I had been the one feeding him out of my enormous pockets.  My big white blouse.  The other Cathy was just the hole in his morning meal, a fruit you open.
People get impacted by a game or a junglegym or some other form of violence and when they wander away I see them.  I guess they could be more angry, suddenly very sweet, or afraid of bridges.  In love with a thing they never knew before.  A slight shift in soup chemistry is all it takes.  And with the damage, two million alternate brothers and lovers turn, straight-mouthed, towards the dishes in the kitchen sink, waiting for the call.  

"Soft Touch" originally appeared in Arielle Greenberg's first collection, Given (Wave Books, 2002), which you can learn more about on her website here