ELIZABETH MIKESCH

FROM THE BOTTOM





STRIATIONS


That summer, onset, early summers so many of us spent in utero, indoors, in dens, and the ones where one wasn’t dead yet but definitely dropped off at the mall, the stores were still jailed, all waking day trying to cool down, or where one walked to the movie theater to wait for one’s friends with allowances to get out of their matinées in the lobby, no guarantee for money for treats in the vialish fog of the post-surgical aphasia from the removal of a chalazion, from the clogged pore that made a sneeze of eyeshadow across the lids self-annihilating only in the propensity to more deeply infect the puffy hole in the subpocket of one’s coat one must borrow when one does not intend to hide one’s meat of oneself in the deleted scenes on the DVD of one’s own autoethnography of one’s own vagina. In the striations of summer, one could dig for a dollar at this one café called Rhodesia on the midweek day, and a poster even screamed at you, one dollar, one could hunch indoors, some might flop by, sub-tweaky, tired from not sleeping on the top floor, noting it was Wednesday, the rule might say why say Wednesday, the belle of the ball of the week, instead this one day where one can return bottles someone left on one’s roommate’s toilet top to steal the return coinage to drink a fifth of something or enough nips to fit between your fingers, sporting, like, a brass knuckles situation, which one might wear as a ring trend or a weapon, and enough dimes left over with this fashion expression to also accept a vag-shaped strip of pizza pie, lounging over the paper plate completely soaked through and grease immediately causing one’s palm to singe, the pepperonis ceramicized appearing before one like canker sores insideouted like a hose flipped and rolled with carpet and cat fur on the toe as that disgusting iteration: a late luncheon. The summer: sexless dresses, the color of red someone would illustrate an aggro tomato animated on an adult cartoon show, a likeness of a tomato with pounds of pressure amounting to the weight of the body of a small child shading the shape of the eyebrows, a tomato with eyebrows so angry they are hovering, streaking, lagging and doubled while the spectator squints at them like casino winnings, about to org tokens, trying to track what kind of face this tangential anger is able to reach stasis in, body still blubbery, the texture of flan exhaling, jittering over too small bikini bottoms from a store with fad fashions for big women, because any bigger and one’s butt couldn’t house them, any smaller one might as well get ready to scrub the poop out of the lower third of the crotch, overripe like a brown bagged tomato on the back of the top of the fridge one forgets then one finds, then touches, then scoffs to then kind of want to puke across a table, a fist plugging the confession, the reflex to touch one’s gens about, to protect oneself subconsciously. From the tomato? Probably from disease or an inbred memory. Skin in the summer of the first time having read Leaving Las Vegas, the stolen copy on the basement bookshelf at Rhodesia, the first time buying groceries not slices, takeout for oneself, groceries to police one’s spending and eating, FAFSA oven-roasted chicken nuggets, dipped, when no one looked, in an older housal mayonnaise vat, whose tang was like when you on-accident brush against a siblant butt trying to scoot past them to reach high-up breadcrumbs for some recipe in a pulling out the leaf for the dining room table to fit all situation. Not the summer of aggravated assault, but the summer of mastering the anecdote and response, the summer of bing bongs and skin, crab rangoon to the touch. Lo never burned before in her life. In her fam, they told her how brown she was, like no one else in the fam and would ask about the people on her other side and those people would ask too but they very well 2 remembered and said someone fucked someone someone didn’t say, the summer of how she found that very fucked up, some hemimoon of consciousness, a khaki song static on a blind date, on metal risers. The summer of standing at attention among fully-rendered adults, basement “noise musicians”, ganglebangling her while people watched once most of the showgoers went home because people are so addicted to porn these days, be porn, the summer of having to be porn in order to have something to put forward, and the summer where that didn’t make sense, that’s no way but that’s one of the things that happen, he bruises like a countertop after someone made a Very Berry smoothie, and afterwards the main one spanking her on the bottom, the only place where the skin wasn’t crunching from sun, the hand print matching all the razed skin on her shoulders for the moment, being a lizard to the unsung part, the color of the dress making everything worse as it was hiked up, wearing it in daylight now, the dress matching sores, sores of plush pimples, the sun making living worse, the weight she could not run off despite the the repulsion of the utterance of jog. The dark: some ill-fortune of being mistaken as an adult near a mall corridor. Other summers, the same, but this time she had the numbers, the days alive behind her, or the half alive ones in the lobbies of the places where waiting was kind of okay to do, the movies, her friend’s dentist, then that idea that saying that thing that was said, that the days are dogs, are gods.

ELIZABETH MIKESCH is the author of Niceties: Aural Ardor, Pardon Me (Calamari). Her writing has appeared in BOMB, The Believer, Unsaid, Sleepingfish, and Caketrain. She wrote a minivan opera for Clarice Lispector, “How Can I Speak Except Timidly Like This?” & had a residency at Mass MoCA for an interdisciplinary project connected to the Bottom. Her band is Fat Friend.