Thursday, June 23, 2011

I am hoping for a quiet spell of rain today. I need to do some transplanting, and the rain will help the little plants take root in their new homes. This has been a year of spotty germination: even after a second planting, none of my golden beets have sprouted, and the red beet leaves are frail. Carrots and parsley have also been reluctant germinators, and insects keep biting off the heads of the cucumber plants. But my grapevines are loaded with tiny grapes, something that has never happened before. Wild strawberries are gleaming among the iris, and roses--white, pale pink, magenta--are running riot. The heavy-headed peonies sag into the grass, and now mock-orange blossoms, with their sweet, dense scent, are beginning to open beneath my study window.

I thought of reprinting one of my poems here today, but suddenly I am tired of all my published work. I have a stack of new poems to send out to journals, yet I can't seem to garner the necessary business-like energy to sort through them, organize them into batches, choose recipients, pen self-confident cover notes. So here the poems sit. Perhaps the rainy day will soothe them.

Instead of giving you a poem, I'll give you this strange little prose piece, which appeared in South Loop Review, vol. 12 (2010). As you might notice, it bears no resemblance to my usual prose style. I'm not even quite sure what to call this genre.

Word Problem

Dawn Potter

Part 1

Friend A seduces Friend B.

Friend A moves into a house with Friend B and an Unknown, who turns out to be Roommate X plus Friend C.

Roommate X and Friend C undergo a rocky romance.

Meanwhile, Friend C attaches herself to Friend A. Now they are Best Friends; they spend all night talking to each other on the telephone.

Meanwhile, Friend A and Friend B undergo a rocky romance.

Friend A is demanding. Friend B is cold.

Friend B and Friend C aren’t really friends yet, until they stay up all night drinking pina coladas.

Now Friend C gives Friend B a Camus novel, and they are lovers, briefly.

Friend A cries. Roommate X cries.

Friend C cries, sleeps with Friend A, and returns to Roommate X.

Friend B cries, which no one has ever seen him do before.

The school year ends, and everyone disappears.

Part 2

Friend C rents an apartment with Roommate Y.

Roommate Y gets pregnant and crazy and moves out, leaving a large cat behind.

Friend B, at loose ends, moves in.

Friend B and Friend C assume joint custody of the cat. Eventually they get married.

Friend A is the best man. Friends A, B, and C pretend to think this is funny.

The large cat dies.

Twenty-five years go by, in their usual fast-slow way.

Part 3

Friend B is unsatisfied, bored, withdrawn, and drunk.

Friend C is unsatisfied, emotional, needy, and prone to exaggeration.

Otherwise, they are happy together, and so are Child 1 and Child 2.

Meanwhile, five hundred miles to the south, Friend A is drunk. Nonetheless, he snags new Friend D.

Friend D is a fine acquisition. Child 1 and Child 2 could not agree more.

Part 4

Friend B visits Friend A and Friend D, while Friend C stays home with Child 1 and Child 2 and deals with various household emergencies unrelated to this tale.

Friend D goes to the movies.

Friend A and Friend B go to a motel.

Friend D is philosophical. Friend C is not.

Part 5

Repeat Part 3, infinitely.


Will Friend A convince Friend C that any future sexual assignations with her husband would be like “going out with a fishing buddy”?

Will Friend B continue to envision Friend C as bossy and controlling?

Will Friend B continue to envision Friend A as bossy and controlling?

Will Friend A and Friend C continue to see Friend B as cool, silent, and impossible to fathom?

Will Friend A hold Friend C’s hand while they listen to Tammy Wynette records?

Will Friend D finally lose his temper and start screaming?

Will Friend B ever be forthright about what he really wants?

Will Friend C ever stop believing that sex equals love?

Will Friend A ever stop smoking?

Will Child 1 and Child 2 ever figure out what’s going on?


no yes yes yes yes maybe no no no yes

Extra Credit

If Friend C is the only chronicler, until Child 2 gets a clue;

and Friend C is the only female, until Child 1 gets a girlfriend;

and Friend A has the special power of making his lovers stay up all night;

and Friend D has the special power of not drinking at bars;

and Friend B is the princess;

Then who feels worst and/or best at the end of it all?


Julia Munroe Martin said...

That's hilarious (the prose)! I love it! Maybe it's in the genre I recently found at that they call an "irregular." In any event, I know what you mean about the frail seedlings. All the early bok choy, arugula, and spinach we planted (in May) bolted! I called the extension office and found out that early bolting can be caused by cold weather in addition to hot -- who knew (maybe you!). Then of course I blogged about it yesterday! :)

Dawn Potter said...

I had the same bolting problem with early greens: they managed to grow to about 2 inches tall, and then went to seed. Very discouraging. I'll look at your blog and see what else you've learned from the extension office. (I am not at all a scientific gardener.)

Carol Willette Bachofner said...

This is definitely new ground for you. I like where you went with this. I am heading out to my garden in a few minutes too, with some tiny seedlings and onions to plant. I have a couple peppers to put in as well and a few more tomatoes.

Planting in the rain is so soothing. Like walking on the beach in the rain, only with more mosquitos.

Life in Maine... we earn every inch.

Maureen said...

Better than doing the NYT crossword puzzle!

Ruth said...

I'd say you have mastered relational alegebra.