Now that I think about it, that would have been a great (and way more work-safe) theme to explore for today’s PAD prompt, which was to write about something “clean” or something “dirty.”
But, well, this is what showed up instead. Today’s effort was typed directly into a gmail message box (I e-mail my digital drafts to myself, both for backup and as a diary of sorts — knowing I can go back to an earlier incarnation of a piece frees me up to take risks with it, since I have the older version a few clicks away if it turns out I’ve headed into the wrong direction or slaughtered the wrong darling); I wasn’t quite expecting it to become as long as it did (or to veer into the directions it ended up taking), which is another reason I started it online rather than on paper. Total time since sitting down has been about an hour (with some business correspondence and research mixed in); total thinking time before that was across maybe ninety minutes (got a late start this morning, and looked up the prompt only after skimming the NYT and WSJ and some online research for a fic-in-progress. I made three or four changes between the version on gmail and the version posted at PAD (including the title and adding a new final line), and two more edits between PAD and here (ETA: and at least one more since posting):
Behind Closed Doors
Pain has a way of trumping prudishness
so when I long aloud for an axe
to hack out the Gordian gnarl
of masking tape and mistletoe
encased within my skull
and Mary Jo then tells me
about coffee enemas,
I go buy the kit and a tiny foil bag
of a fair-trade blend, and I test
the brew with my tongue and then
I take it all to my bathroom
and lock the door even though
I live with no one but a cactus
who thrives on the dregs of my lattes.
I’m not surprised that it works.
It’s almost like sex: so ridiculous
and so messy it belongs nowhere near
the sanitized chat of the water cooler,
but Mary Jo’s a friend of many years,
one with whom I can be blunt
about the commandments I break
and the breaking of them, especially
the ones about what comes in and out
of my mouth. If there exists a hell
beyond migraines and menstruation,
I’ll be consigned to it not for murder
or other majestic mayhem, but
for gossip and petty tyrannies
and lies to cover my ass. Sometimes
I dream of scrubbing out my brain:
the regrets and their residue
take up so much space, and
not a thousand stale breadcrumbs
will erase them, though I stand
on the banks of the Harpeth every fall,
casting my white-bread sins into its current
and silently begging God to make it easier
for me to be good, to keep my nose clean
no matter who might be coming next through the door.
2 thoughts on “Dishing the Dirt (PAD, day 7)”
I love the breadcrumbs, unexpected, and also a twist back into that story, making it different.
…once again proving that my subconscious is smarter than I am — I didn’t even think about that allusion until you mentioned it; my mind was all about sketchbooks and Tashlich.
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