Tara Deal

The Golden Age

She told the child not to touch the dead dog, legs up, at the base of the Acropolis. Because who knows what hap­pened last night, or even before that. And the child said, all right, of course, but he went back to look while his moth­er gath­ered up the things of her world, dried thyme and blue pots, can­dles and zuc­chi­ni. Things that he would have nev­er con­sid­ered. She bought one long black shawl from the stalls and thought that her child had learned his les­son. About which things were to be avoid­ed (and cher­ished). And so she nev­er dis­cov­ered that he was lag­ging behind, bent over like an old man too close to the brown fur as dry as grass in this sum­mer, ready to burn. When he said to him­self, or asked, some­thing ancient and unhur­ried. And in a for­eign lan­guage.

 

Postcard from Vermont (Almost)

On the road to Vermont from New York: win­ter, noth­ing daz­zling, gray inter­state, left­over snow, the occa­sion­al crow, and bare trees with­out any spec­tac­u­lar ici­cles to make them inter­est­ing. No sparkle what­so­ev­er. Even the cars are dust and cloud col­ors. Sometimes, for vari­ety, there is a frozen makeshift water­fall on a rocky out­crop­ping by the high­way. Or a Target truck with a bright red bulls­eye on its side. A stop at McDonald’s for a chick­en sand­wich and a feel­ing of greasi­ness (queasi­ness) that lingers in the car even after the food is gone. I’m on my way to a wed­ding.

Who gets mar­ried at this time of year, when win­ter is at its bit­ter­est? This is no time to lapse into lan­guor. Plus, it’s too cold to smell anoth­er person’s per­fume. The names on the wed­ding invi­ta­tion are a frozen blue, incised into white slabs of the thick­est paper.

I try to fill in the blanks, erase emp­ty hours in the car, but a trip to Vermont is noth­ing to write home about. I look out, but there is no sen­su­ous­ness to be shared. There is noth­ing to say about the wed­ding because it hasn’t hap­pened yet. (And will it be any dif­fer­ent from the rest?) There is noth­ing, I think, that will turn this slip of a text into some­thing silky and desir­able, wait­ing to be read. Something you might want one night, to have and to hold, when you’re think­ing of promis­es and dia­monds and caviar on the cold­est ice.

Winter hawks cir­cle above the bar­ren fields, hop­ing, slop­ing down for a clos­er look. And then, unbe­liev­ably, some­thing. There it is: a shad­ow of some­thing. It could be any­thing, maybe ined­i­ble, flit­ting through the trees. Maybe indeli­ble.

Wish you were here.

~

Tara Deal is the author of two books from small press­es: Wander Luster is a chap­book of poems from Finishing Line Press, and Palms Are Not Trees After All is the win­ner of the 2007 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize from Texas Review Press. And almost the short­est sto­ry she’s ever writ­ten appears in Hint Fiction (Norton).