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S P R A W L by Danielle Dutton

S P R A W L by Danielle Dutton

a selection from S P R A W L by Danielle Dutton


Meanwhile, the cat tolerates my presence in his tiny sphere of physicality and the microwave disturbs all convention. I live dangerously; I stand in front of the microwave and stare at food revolving. It’s harder to stand still than to tell a story. But by effacing all other operations I may come to something important, standing here. Haywood passes me on his way to the garage. I hear the door close and watch his car move down the street. A lot of these dilemmas aren’t ever solved. They’re like rotting fruit concealed beneath their own sweet smell. I wander around an array of objects meant to convey luxury and plenitude. This is further emphasized by Haywood’s new beard, which is representative of a lost tradition of safety and justice. Meanwhile, the cat spends the whole day trying to find the perfect place to sit down. He is shiny and metallic gray. Also he opens up with brownish patches near the bottom, like a fan. He hunts in backyard gardens and brings home clicking insects and birds. He arranges these various prizes half-alive in glorified transpositions of hunting scenes, which are mainly documentary in character. This make him a poacher and also indicates how he is driven bu hunger and want. On the sideboard: a mysterious orange stain, a blue dishtowel, a silver tray under an empty glass, a wilted piece of lettuce, the top to a bottle of seltzer, a small silver bowl with its silver spoon, cracker crumbs, a tiny fleck of relish. At some point, Haywood writes a check with no real desire to buy anything. We read the check over and over. In the meantime, on the lawn across the street, bronze chipmunks chew small bronze nuts. You could reach out to touch them from the black-and-white striped furniture, which is the other aesthetic object in this picture of a front yard. In the middle of the street, facing east, I am fascinated by performances in front of the Playstation in the house next door. Voices emerges from an open window: intergalactic space stations, plumbers, child trouble, cancer, belching, etc. In the springtime it’s like this. Suddenly we know we will survive. The whole street gathers together in self-inflicted ecstasy, in the Richardson’s backyard. Mrs. Moody wriggles alone by the swimming pool, which is covered in tight blue plastic. Some strange newcomer hands me a beer. He looks at me and then he makes an alteration and then a car pulls into the driveway, which is distracting. Later I watch as he communicates himself to others–he opens the backdoor and he stands outside it with Mrs. Donovan. It’s a noticeable shift from winter’s operatic melodrama. We sit on blankets and contemplate grass, mouths, mouths, cotton brassieres, relish. I could do all sorts of things. I stare at a blank vertical wall, sometimes, a real wall, which builds a proximal space. Or else I register the elongated flappiness of the body, or long-necked pitchers, or a thumb pinching off clay. On the edge of the table, a jar, its strange softness, the way it records light and the action of hands on fruit and other surrounding artifacts. There is an alteration of bright yellow and bright green on the inside of my eyelids when I imagine spatial value of nearness. Haywood stands at forty-five degrees and runs his hand through his hair. He is, at times, disinclined to be visible. He gets into bed and presses my leg under the sheets. There is a burnishing, a tactile space for rubbing, which is strangely motionless at some times of the year. Other times there’s a real positive self-help philosophy and we partake of it. The division of labor is clear.


S P R A W L by Danielle Dutton is now available from Siglio.

Richard Chiem

About The Author

Richard Chiem

Richard Chiem is the author of You Private Person. He lives in Seattle, WA.

Real Pants

Good hair, crooked gait

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