For #Thurds Time
… I feel a buzzing panic … thought I’d have a traditional birthday cake this year — maybe this time really have a wish come true when I would blow out the forest of candles. It never seemed to work before. I think I had my first cake with candles when I was three…
The water is still rising. I smile at Zawmb’yee. She is praying. I wonder about the golden steps we were to step down, each one more relaxing, more soothing. We were to reach a plateau, make a bubble of protection, be bathed in white light. I see a glowing blue globe. I remember when I was three. “Uncle Coozie, Uncle Coozie, I’m fwee today.”
“I’m fwee-years-old and I can sing: ‘Haffy Birffy to me/Haffy Birffy to me/Haffy Birffy dear Dougy, haffy birffy to me.’ Uncle Coozie, Mommy chased the angel away — she says ’cause it’s jimagery. Daddy said to hurry up and blow out the damn candles and I forgot to make a wish. Can I still make a wish after everybody’s gone? I made a wish on a teddy bear…”. Zawmb’yee is asking me what we do now. I am saying, “Utcoozhoo says to feel along the beam in the ceiling for a lever.” I am reaching up. There is a beam. The water is only an inch from the ceiling. There is a piece of metal sticking out. I’m pulling it. The water is draining.
The water drained slowly. Treading water wasn’t much fun. My backpack was too heavy — I had brought a picnic blanket, a bottle of that two dollar wine that won a prize from the blindfolded snobs, and blue cheese. I tried to arch my head back to float, but having to do the elementary backstroke to stay afloat, made me crash into a wall. I switched to breaststroke, swimming around Zawmb’yee who was holding onto her floating backpack.
Slowly, as the water drained, we floated down to the floor. Little rivers gurgled down the stairs. The water was gone.
Zawmb’yee was shivering. I took the blanket out — good that it was old, because I could easily tear it in half. I said, “You can use this as a towel to dry off.”
We were soaked and there were breezes leaking in from somewhere. I was getting cold too. I took my wet shirt off.
Zawmb’yee stroked my chest hair, pressed the water out, combed it with her fingers, and handed me the blanket. She tilted her head down, unbuttoned her shirt, said, “Dry me off.”
I took off her wet shirt. The towel carried me into her cleavage, and I wiped her stomach, stroked her face. Her arms were still cold. I massaged away the goose bumps and the water, pulled down her bra straps. She lifted her arms, unbuckled my belt. I felt much warmer. It was to be a fine picnic after-all, as I looked into the blue of her eyes and dried the crest of her globes. In the joy of my breathing, my pants fell off. Floods can be fun when not alone.
“You look cold,” she said, and dried my legs with the tickle of the towel. She saw me bulging. Her fingers pushed under the elastic band, pulled down the briefs, teased the towel around. “I wouldn’t want you to get cold,” she said.
“The heat is on,” I said. “You’ve…” — kissed her lips — “taught me … a lot … today” — caressed — “Can you feel my … thank you?”
Softly a fine slide, a rocking in her spirit, her cuteness, her day this day, her pulse, my heart, a throb, a bob, her joy is my joy. Releasing …
We cuddled and I looked at the wine — we hadn’t needed it. But a little dessert didn’t seem like a bad idea. I opened a plastic bag, took out two cups, poured the wine, put cheese on a cracker.
“I love the salty blue,” she said.
“Yes, the Danish blue cheese is best.”
“Umm. could I ask, where did you learn to open the ngtqua? I thought Utcoozhoo made you turn your back when he did it.”
“Funny thing: When I went to the opera, it was a horrible performance. I thought if it had been Italy, they would have thrown tomatoes, and …”
“I meant to ask you — you said you saw Chloë at the opera?”
“Yeah. She was with Ngheufel. They couldn’t get over the incredible faux pas: one passage was supposed to be a simple running up the classical scale by a soprano, but Ngheufel said there was a flat 3 and a flat 7; 2 and 6 were missing. He said that’s obvious — they lapsed into a pentatonic blues scale. The singers themselves were stunned as if they didn’t know why they did that. During intermission, somehow, I got into a discussion with Ngheufel about tones and codes.”
“Ngheufel was with Chloë?”
“Yeah. He was with Chloë. Chloë sends her regards. She knows you don’t like the opera,” said Zawmb’yee.
I was feeling odd, maybe a little jealous. Chloë did ask me to go to the opera — maybe I should have gone; she said it’s more casual nowadays, but I don’t think I would have fit in. “Ngheufel told you …”
“We got into talking about harmony and we did the sound … that was embarrassing …”
“What do you mean?”
“We put a crack in a wall and security escorted us out. They were going to call the police, but Ngheufel did a weird thing …”
“Well, I don’t know how to explain it exactly … he did a weird humming thing and said ‘don’t you think it’s too nice a day to do that’ or some such, and the staff all started humming and went off into the park. We went back inside. Chloë was upset — she wanted to know why I ran off with Ngheufel. I just told her we were discussing harmony. She was real angry, but the second act of the opera went well.”
“This is incredible,” I said, “Utcoozhoo was worried about Ngheufel making mischief, and this trouble seems deliberate…”
Zawmb’yee turned pale. She said, “He’s always been a prankster — he once tried to tell Utcoozhoo he knew the peace symbol in common vogue, but instead of showing two fingers, he told him that raising the middle finger was a sign of respect. Utcoozhoo gave him the middle finger but in proper context … We could be in trouble, but never mind. Have some more wine.”
We both didn’t want to even contemplate what conspiracy might really be going on. I drifted into something more neutral, “I don’t like opera very much. When it comes to music, I like the blues and improvisation. Utcoozhoo said to do something with that. He wanted me to write something casual in idiomatic English. He’s always saying to master simple poetry before attempting the poetry of the Gods.”
“Yeah. He always makes strange demands. Well, I don’t know, but I thought the poem you wrote on the canvas was pretty good. Are you still keeping your poem diary? ”
“Uh yeah … ”
“Um, and so, you brought wine and cheese for a surprise seduction, and then maybe, I’m thinking you brought your poem book. No?”
“ … Uh, how do you know these things … Well, I’ve got a pretty long one that rambles all over the place. I’m sort of wondering if it’ll pass in the up-top culture. It’s maybe too quirky and …”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re dying to read it. Hey, I’m the one who’s supposed to practice meshing with the mainstream culture. I can take it. You’ve got something better to do? … Have some wine and let’s hear it.”
Our clothes were still too wet to put back on, and needing a diversion from arousal, I thought reading might be a good idea (I vowed never to go to a nudist colony because I’m easily distracted, and I could imagine having a problem constantly being seen…). I fumbled through the plastic bags, opened the book and turned to ‘Sax Piano Bird’
She said, “Well, what are you doing? Let’s hear it.”
“No, I’ve changed my mind, and I think I should stop writing poetry altogether.”
“Well, I’ve a bad feeling that they’re about to outlaw it in the up-top world except for Shakespeare,” I said.
“Why would they do that?”
“Because it’s subversive,” I said.
“But Shakespeare’s subversive.”
“Yeah, but it’s Old English and young people are forgetting how to read it,” I said.
“Well, at least tell me what your subversion is about,” she said.
“Well,” I said, “shall I glorify a paraphrase for love…”
“Well, the now secret title is ‘Sax Piano Bird’… Um, I’ll change it a little.”
“Yes, yes, yes, get on with it — do your best translation on the go.”
“Zawmb’yee dear, if you will play, I will kiss your tune lips, because anything goes when I’m slinking down your keyboard, tickling doleful note doodles, plinking your chords, caressing pianissimo, bopping forte, top a’ ya board, yes indeed, I’m chording love accolades that stay for improvisations when cool mistys get hot, and if you will play, I shall be cool.
I will kiss your tune lips if you will transpose your glory keys to high toned harmony that sees me exposed with whistling kisses blown all sax-ified, but that’ll be after the race. Y’know it was a mystery that birds of a feather could have gotten the winner’s name from the horse’s mouthwash, but I had heard them say that you used to play with your pet cockatoo at the piano bar down by the racetrack at the end of the race, and so I decided to see for myself. When I got to the piano, the bird said, ‘Leave a tip.’
I said, ‘Baby Needs Shoes to win, place, or show me a new tune.’
But as they had said, it was your habit to nag the feathers off it to make it snatch bills out of patrons’ hands.”
“And um, uh…”
“Yes, continue the prose translation. I think you’ve kept most of the poetic spirit in it. So go be subversive. I won’t tell anyone,” Zawmb’yee said.
“Um yes, OK,” I said. “After you had played with your pet cockatoo, I tipped it into a snifter, hoping you’d play with me, because I bet on the nag. But then I had said to you, let’s go to the showers.
I had said that to install the clean in a froth of warmth, above a soapy love, you should join me in the shower stall by the steamy wall where flights of fancy are never scrubbed.
I had said to you that if you will, then I, with fragrant soap, will wash in tribute the toe that tested my waters, will in tribute cleanse the foot feats that two-stepped when I was a mere calf and you were knee high to a love like a soap opera. I had said to sing in the shower from your diaphragm where no melting soap is barred while I swoosh below your breasts with swirling helicopter hands taking off with haste as whirlybirds land on nipple pads.
I had said, if you would say, taxi to the terminal then the refueling hose could dock and the passengers could be served hot blessings, but I said remember: the fifth race is soon, time to place bets by the river on the sailboats, although we could check out the entries swimming in the racing waters where in trepidation you can put a toe in the water of my soul as I kiss it as I would a child’s boo-boo, offering you a future, a splash of my essence; I breathe your perfume, a cherry-flavored love.
You undress in my river and I kiss your thigh in baptism before lips. Like a mallard I swim aside, a breast in hand and hand in bush.
All goes swimmingly, as I reminisce first kisses raising my mast, sailing our ship, and now anything goes, even past the sunset in moonlit tunes splashed across the stars.’ ”
She gave me a sultry look, touched her hips, cocked her head to the side, and hugged herself. She said, “It does sort of ramble, but I like it … I see that your thank you is rising again …”
“Uh, umm, well umm …”
She ran naked down the stairs giggling.