There are few things I love more about New York City than the deli flowers. It’s like living in a giant gorgeous garden where the roses honk, the sunflowers scream, and the daffodils–not wanting to get lost in the sonar shuffle–just stand on the corner nodding their lovely little heads.
Even as I stood clinging onto a silver pole and balancing on one leg in the subway, it struck me as absurd: I was changing shoes to go see a dead man; a man had died, and I was changing shoes.
I never know what to say at these things. I read the poem on the program and the cards on the flowers and the photo captions tacked to a felt board, and then I stood in front of the casket. He was painted almost orange, and his suit was blue. I’m sorry, I mumbled to his beautiful daughter-in-law who had given me all the details–the tubes, the surgery, the agreement–while we stood, not smoking, under the awning. There was a time, years ago, when he gave his blessing to his other son to marry me.
The other son, the one I did not marry, didn’t show before I, still mumbling, excused myself. Work, I lied and looked back over my shoulder (don’t we always?) as I made my way to the train.
I was in an SUV with my ex-stepfather. We were driving through the New York streets and hundreds of people were dressed as birds, flapping their huge paper wings and running into the middle of the road. I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting them. They squawked and called, and Thorn kept hitting the palm of his hand on the dashboard. Birds, he kept yelling, these damn birds.
Eat yourself silly cake.
Chocolate cake and carrot cake and yellow cake.
Strawberry cake and pound cake.
Just one more slice cake.
Love me some icing cake.
A laugh until you cry cake.
A Patty cake.
I cake you cake.
I cake you very much cake.
Show me a cake that never caked
and I’ll show you a cake that never was cake.
Roll it up cake.
Roll it up! Roll it up! Throw it in a pan cake.
An even a bad cake is good cake cake.
A shit-eating grin ‘cause I got me a cake cake.
A close my eyes and make me a wish cake.
An oh I ate too much cake and I kinda wanna die cake,
but let me lick the knife,
just let me get that one last little bit of cake.
So, I was clicking mindlessly through email, paying not a lick of attention to the sender when I came upon this jewel:
The streets are sopping, and a man is walking very slowly, behind his leash, behind his bulldog. I want to open the window and yell, “Hurry up, you’ll get wet!” Instead, I sit here in my office–the window bolted shut–and watch as they make their way down the avenue, so slowly, I think, but when I look up again, they’re already gone.
by Kaylin Haught
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes
from The Palm of your Hand, 1995
Tilbury House Publishers
Copyright 1995 by Kaylin Haught.
All rights reserved.