May 17, 2004 from Issue 96
May 17, 2004
I. A Girl is Born
I’m overdue by two. My stomach’s meaty as a giant marble made of clay.
I’m blue flips flops and stretch-panel shorts and huge sunglasses and don’t you even.
I’m overdue by two. I grip the dashboard like it’s the very last length of rope dangling out of reach over the far reaches of the Grand Canyon and I’m falling: I’m crawling out the elevator on all fours like a mad hot rabid raccoon and when the nurse says, “Triage 3,” I gouge my foaming teeth into her crisp little ankle and growl, “Now!” I’m rolling on a tray towards the most precipitous birth ever recorded on earth. I’m overdue by two. By the time the doctor peeks in, too late: a baby girl pink and steaming hot like a slick wet ham. Happy Birthday from the Land of Divine Speed and No Possible Intervention.
II. Til Death Do Us Part
Today Marcia Kadish and Tanya McCloskey are joined together in holy matrimony: the first in line. Ignore the sign: “Homosexuals Are Possessed by Demons!” Look, here, instead: “Two Moms Make a Right!” After the weddings, and more weddings, and more weddings, topless men in rainbow skirts kiss these brides on the mouths as they pass like royalty to parties free of haters and full of feta cheese and champagne and a hot sense of relief having passed through the gauntlet before the gig’s up. “It’s almost too good to be true,” says Couple #5. Hate static fires up the screen. President Bush declares an “urgent” call to ban such marriages. But love drops tiny sparks down upon the crisp old Constitution and turns it to tinder. And poof. One down, forty-nine to go.
III. A Toast
The baby becomes Lily, who will marry whomever she wants. Or not. Some victories melt into everyday miracles as sand to glass. Martini glasses hold rainbow sprinkles. And when Lily dances cha-cha at Paul and Jeffrey’s wedding, the tears are different. Everyone knows it. To speak it is to risk its loss. But Paul’s father bravely toasts the grooms. He owns a lumber store. He likes a three-meat breakfast. Tall and pink, he is every manner of Midwestern Lutheran angler buckshot. And what does he say? How do I tell you of his toast? It’s the butter on the bread. It’s the earful of lawnmowers and sunshine. It’s a giant cupcake stuffed with rare fruit. “I love them both, these boys.” It’s all he can do before his throat catches. Instead of gifts, the grooms request original artwork. Lily’s portrait of the couple shows dots for beards, circles for eyeglasses, straight teeth and crooked cheeks. The stripes of their shirts are matching but different colors.