I Tried, On Queries and Scents that Linger and in the Blank Verse and Supermarket Carts. Ready. Set. Go. by Jen Schneider

I Tried
I don’t recall when we stopped using utensils. I don’t recall why, either. Most likely the notion – now habit – was borne out of a desire to minimize dirt and dishes. The sink a daily bone of contention.  Why not? the youngest offered. We have fingers. No other animals use forks, the eldest added. The dog barked. Most likely because he had to go. The door opened and he fled. Quickly took care of two basic needs. Ate some grass. Then wet it. We’ve always suspected a deeper meaning. Only I can’t make meaning. Can’t make anything, really. While words would once weave effortlessly, I now wonder if I’ll ever write again. The virus always hungry. Insatiable. Consumes all of Monday. Tuesday through Sunday, too. My mind meanders as words fail. No matter how much I try. Just yesterday –

I tried to write two lines but consumed twisted licorice instead. 
I tried to craft a conflict but calculated interest due instead.
I tried to revise a paragraph of dialogue but regurgitated a pot of soured warm milk instead.
I tried to compose a shopping list but suffered a paper cut instead. 
I tried to draft a memo but drank a mimosa instead. 
I tried to draw up agreements but swallowed alphabet soup instead.
I tried to complete edits but educated myself via Netflix releases, History of Swear Words and
The Departed, instead.
I tried to formulate sentences but sentenced four legged housemates to time out instead. 
I tried to inscribe initial reactions but initiated a new series binge session instead.
I tried to document dates in diaries but devoured stale petit fours instead.

I tried the day before last, too. Last week, as well. No matter. The rotation is familiar. Even routine. We solve one problem – become comfortable with finger foods – as others, fingers that are too close / food that is too far / a virus that is too hungry – emerge and persist. 

On Queries and Scents that Linger

Your scent lingers in the fibers of our my closet. Muscles, too. People mean well. Practice, they say. Swap my for our. Singular for plural. One for two. My fingers, wrinkled and chipped of polish, linger on paths, both of mind and matter, that we once travelled. Two for one early bird entrées. There, done. Double dip ice creams. Buy one get one flannels. I did it. Again. You always promised more, though I neither desired anything other than the present. One day, you’d say. How I wish you hadn’t. I know not how to ride a unicycle. Never had a need to learn. You were the driver, I always the passenger. You my equilibrium. Days now spin and cycle on high heat. I think only of days past. Cycles on roadways. Arms hug waste. Walks up mountains and down lakes. Spontaneous drives on the Interstate. Sharp rights to sandy beaches, state parks, and bird sanctuaries. You’d drape your t-shirt over rocks, sand, and concrete. We’d use black and red Sharpies to name pieces and trace paths. Block letters on tiny interior tags. And inferior stitching. Stitch bugs, you’d call them. They just itch, I’d say. We I always had a place to sit. I no longer know where to sit. Your scent lingers in the lilac cardigan and its tiny faux pearl snaps. Our third Christmas, just before the baby. She sleeps with your photo under her small pillow. She thinks we I don’t know. Your touch lingers in the drape of our my 3 for 10 T-shirts, in the rolls of our my cranberry striped socks, and the Free People crewneck from our an afternoon in the city. You We found the brand funny. A purchase you could not refuse. Free the People, you laughed, as we combed through the thrift shop racks. My heart was free, then. I now know freedom has no price. By day you’d fight for us them. Defending those who could not afford a lawyer. Filing claims for fair wages. Writing op eds to alert citizens of workplace breaches. Pen names everywhere. They tell me to change our my name. I no longer know my name. Free the People, became our your mantra. Me, along for the ride. Just before your birthday I ordered a personalized, tag-free T, the letters printed in bold 24-point block font across the back. A scripted font. Block arrived. I now know life is not scripted. The gift remains in its in box, tucked in a closet corner. You never wore it, yet your scent lingers. Just today I learned The Great Gatsby is soon to be released to the public domain. Free the People, we’d you’d say. Like when we’d sit and read Alice in Wonderland. The irony, to be stuck in Wonderland and not know we’re you’re free. I hope you’re free. The people miss you. I miss you. I no longer know my name. A paperback copy of Pride and Prejudice, first yours, then mine, mainly ours, still on the nightstand. Dog-eared pages now mine alone. Some nights I speak to the yellow highlighted text. I see you in the ink and the words that bleed through the thinned page. Your scent lingers.

Q1. Define scent. Q2. Define linger. Q3. Do all scents linger? Q4. Define freedom

Q5. Define public domain. Q6. Is all that is in the public domain free?

Q7. Which of the following is free? Books / Shelter / Representation / Security

Q8. Which of the following is in the public domain? Books / Shelter / Representation / Security

Q9. Which of the following words is least like the other? Scent / Linger / Free / Public Domain

Q10. What does it mean to “Free the People”?

Fill in the Blank Verse and Supermarket Carts. Ready. Set. Go.
1.     Supermarket magazine (Title)
2.     Tabloid (Title)
3.     A monthly bill
4.     Another monthly bill
5.     A type of fabric found in a kitchen
6.     A salad ingredient.
7.     A common recyclable/trash item
8.     A household scent
9.     Pantry staple, canned good
10.   Pantry staple, boxed good

The story was titled The Girl with Mean Eyes. I found it in the bottom cabinet. The one with the
broken hinge. Under stacks of 1_ and 2.  Bills, too. 3 and 4. We don’t talk about
those much. Instead, we finger 5_ and toss 6. Crave fresh goods, then crave a swift clean
up. We discard 7 and fall into patterns – consumption, resumption, and presumption.
Ultimately, days turn to weeks of patterns and predictability. Monday through Sunday on repeat.
We inhale 8. Consume 9 and 10.  Call to the animals – usually dogs, sometimes
cats, often squirrels, even children – to come as they chase tails, dandelions, and dust. Eyes track.
Eyes watch. I know what I mean, and I mean what I say. Back and forth. Across the yard. Under
the sun. On the ground. Yap. Yep. Yup. In. Into. Of. The Everyday.

%d bloggers like this: