TRY – Zans Brady Krohn
November 6, 2021
Hunger for a deal. Hurry up. Have a mother who will never not forgive you. Have a grandmother who forbids God’s elbow lands on the dining table when you reach over to grab the water pitcher (warping your father’s face, reminding you of the boy he once was: fat, virginal, not your father, not anyone’s, not anyone’s anything – not yet.)
Do not compromise on deals struck within yourself. Do not trim a cat’s whiskers. Do not sleep on a bed of golden apples. Whatever impels you toward ‘self-help,’ strongly distrust it and insist that your significant other cane you instead.
Be porous, but finely so. Water the park with the breadth of your insight. Children will play in the splay of your thoughts if they are on the right track. Rats will fall from their tree nests and land next to the Taiwanese man who regards them thinly and smokes and smokes and smokes. So could angels and he would react the same.
Boil water but don’t forget you did. Go to the party without asking if you should come or if it’s fun, and comb through purses and totes for a gun if you do. Let women pee in the shadow of the street. Try to know someone’s body better than your own, and use it.
Be urgent. Be deadly serious about at least one thing. Use pens. Brace yourself at the pharmacy self-checkout. Steal if you must. Have a physical battle with the weather, then divorce it. Wear grey. Wear too little. Make use of your body while you can, before someone else does.
Try to master the three anxieties: death, meaninglessness, and condemnation. Fail. Do not be a passive aggressive control freak. Do not pick through the shells and bodies of former icons and inspect their personas for parts that you might strip and assimilate into your own vehicle, one that is hurtling toward your child crying over their proofs while you rip the packet then pour the cheese powder into the pot on the stove. Stir while the sun dips back into its hole, hopefully not for the last time.
Remember the time you pulled back the curtain and saw the tad. He was floating, literally levitating, headed for the back gate where a river engorged itself in bedrock, providing ample rivulets and eddies to begin their lives. You always had to follow–that was your problem. You wonder why, down to the river. You pick the way as the sticks crack underfoot. Rocks gleam like wild. The boy holds a hand over the surface of the water, palm facing down, and quickly jerks it upwards. The tadpoles leap, suspend in the air, wriggle. Your head is not empty. He tugs on those strings too.
The boy holds a hand over the water and a human woman, famously dead, appears. She begins to undress, shimmies off her burlap gown. It drops around her feet and she steps out, toward the boy, who spins her around to examine the dimples above her hips, the crease of her ass, the broken wings below her shoulder blades. She speaks while she wades into the river but the boy turns the volume off in the future. Sound froze. You can’t move your legs. The water warps. She plucks tadpoles and drops them on her tongue. The finite is palpable. Now you know.
Always peer into the ground-floor apartments of strangers. Listen for tire spit on gravel, beg and scream and cry. Ingest or inhale ziplocks of California marijuana and decide what you will name your unborn first born. Settle on the second name. The meaning is trying.
Accept divorces. Grow one fingernail long and let the jag trail someone’s spine. Count on female virtue and spirituality but do not put all your eggs in that basket. Dissolve your lip fillers and cut out the tear-shaped silicone sacs that stud your chest and give them back to your father.
Pray for something insane to happen.
Sit by the low water of Hyde Park, by the swan pond or something to that effect and wait for a double baby stroller to rock up. Twins and their envoy: a young Malaysian woman, warmly bundled. Help, she says, and pulls a piece of hair out of her brown mouth. It was a windy day that you were attempting to enjoy. Look, she says, and articulates with her hand. Their eyes won’t stop rolling, she says. You look deep into their new swollen faces.. The babies look pretty much healthy—full heads of sworled black hair, and fat Michelin man arms and torsos but it’s true—white glass, no lashes, with the occasional black pupil that shoots up and across the pale like a comet.
Why don’t you take them to the doctor? She can’t. Their parents are away and if anything goes wrong she’ll lose her job. She can’t lose her job. Swans fritter the water. You leave the park with the woman and the twins in tow. You’re the one pushing the stroller now. The babies can’t feel the difference but you do. There is responsibility among us. You park yourselves on Kensington High Street by the Whole Foods, and call emergency services. Pretend you are the parent of twins with eyes that loll in their skulls. The 999 helpline won’t help. Call the parents, you instruct the Malaysian angel again. You’re trying. They’re on vacation. I can’t bother them. You stare at each other for a long while. Pupils lock normally.
You wonder why anyone is ever chosen.
You take the three, babysitter included, back to their home, a mews on Marloes. You try again to flash a light in the baby’s eyes and light up their lucent skulls. You sit in the father’s armchair and stare at his books. Middlesex, Sapiens, Confessions. The three nap.
You crawl on all your fours to the sleeping children. With a thumb, tug up a lid. The comets let fly. You pop one eyeball out, then the other, like shucking peas, and switch out their eyes. The pupils snap to attention. You move to the woman’s cot.
You don’t want anything specific. You crave the vague gesture of another body. You remember the period in which you were beginning to understand people, especially women. You whisper the way to be large-hearted among the all-gendered who intend to objectify and disgrace her. You give her your special word.
Now you’re in the period of not understanding people, especially women, having accepted them and yourself as strange, permeable containers. Now we’re all getting along much better.
When the babysitter wakes, you explain it was as simple as an old eyeball switch. She asks you to please leave now. You stand in their treeless street and grapple with meaning. What did they glimpse in the untethering of eyes? The back of their minds? Someone’s else’s? A silver coupe pulls up and two fine, tanned adults stride up and inside their home.
You tell your friends. They say the condition is very common now, in fact.
Have or receive unmerciless erections. Visit the locales of the great wars and rank your favorite flags. Say hello to this week’s bad guy. Do not be physically immune to anything, especially not foreign countries and customs. Make a noteworthy entrance and a clean exit wound with as little space in between the two as possible.
Contraception is fucking awful. Try to have good problems. Not the way women leave their shoes by the door. Do you know your lover’s allergies? Who has stippled the stars on the bridge of the sky’s nose? Talk back to backtalk. Anticipate ice. Avoid the language of ad copy. Swim naked briskly. If you ever discover your secret word, never tell a single soul.
You will face many puberties. You will be beautiful, again and again, then never. You will not refer to appetizers as apps. You are a fortuitous virus. Milk-boned generations will spring forth from your existence. When your great granddaughters scroll your grid they’ll be proud that you were—or at least appeared—happy and loved and the name you have filled for yourself is dewormed, unrotten—respected even—and you stepped into your plot with confidence and surprisingly spritely agility, what with all the treatments, despite all the drinking, smoking, drugging, not to mention the other temptations of your time, you really lived with grace and valiance and even managed to accrue some property, stock, and insight to pass on, after all.
Kinda crazy that everything gets dark at night. Feel your twin’s eyes searching for you as you stroke your daughter’s head, deciding what song to play for her. She once asked if we all die at once. A red balloon blushed a shadow on the wood. She kicked it and it popped. A rubber mess. Your partner pries it out of her mouth and screams at you, then becomes the capital of Israel. It was an important question, you said. I was thinking about it. Your phone burbles with a notification but your girl doesn’t stir. Her ear is untrained to new sonic cues. You never pick a song.
Try, now: a photo of a pale girl with dark side swept bangs. She is wearing a plain black t-shirt, tight on her chest, and faded low-rise jeans. The flash of the camera tips the lids of her eyes a little oiled and yellow, a touch more sallow than the rest of her face, and she looks down and slightly behind, toward her left hip, biting the bottom of her lip. She is arching her back and throwing her ass on the lap of a young man in a grey knit turtleneck sweater and baggy jeans. Equally dark and cool brown hair, longish, pushed back off his forehead, badgery features, straight brow, inoffensive nose, shadow of a goatee on the lowerest part of his chin. If he was not thin and young he would be unattractive but that’s most of us. If he were not resting one hand on the small of the girl’s lower back as she bites her lip and half-closes her eyes, if he were not piercing us his own strangely solemn gaze, it would have been a nothing but it’s not. It could have been a man condemned.
You will mention the atlas behind the couple. Europe is yellow. Canada green. United States orange, and Mexico red. Africa and South America are jumbled. Australia is orange. Greenland is always white.
The main event is upon us. If you want to touch gloves, let’s touch now. Let’s deny ourselves at least one thing. Let’s not parade. Let’s not sell anything to children anymore. Let’s exchange eyes.