I took a class this weekend with Lynda Barry called "Writing the Unthinkable". In it we did lots of five-minute exercises designed to dredge up memories and excavate images. I'm going to try to keep doing these, and post the results every day. Sometimes I might draw pictures, too. Sometimes I might post the same thing as the day or even a week ago before, but with new bits added in. I really have no idea.
Oh, and I stole that title from a poem by Martha Ronk.
I am with Mary in our bedroom. We're sitting on the carpet, playing with the dolls we got as a hand-me-down from Mrs. Marshall's granddaughter. I'm holding Custer, Mary's is and Indian. Their legs are bowed, like they're riding horses, but we've already killed the horses.
"They bleed and bleed, until just water comes out. That's how you know they're dead," Mary says. Mary's always explaining things like that. Shes' two years older and has already started school. I'm scared, the way I always seem to get scared. How much do you have to bleed before water comes out? Are the horses dead forever? I don't remember ever playing with them again.
I can't remember ever playing with the indian again, either, or even what his name was, or if he had one. I think his horse did. And for years, bow-legged Custer haunted the bedroom, hiding beneath the bed, standing on top of the white plastic shelves, propped up against the wall, crashing barbie parties with his blonde mustache and his painted-on army clothes.
The top bunk was heaven. We took the horses up there, and the indian, and Custer, too. Mary's patchwork blankie was the clouds. The sun shone on the treetops outside while Mary and me hummed taps and Mary told me how the indians buried their dead in treetops so their souls would be closer to heaven. Later that day, I wondered how you'd recognize your family in heaven, if everyone were ghosts with the same big black eyes painted on their long white blankets.