Paraphrase

The lesson in school was simple...paraphrase, don't plagiarize. Credit, credit, credit. Bibliographies were required. 

Musicians speak of their influences...and occasionally you hear it. A chord progression you've heard before, eerily similar, in a different song by a different artist. The lyrics and subject aren't at all the same, but the song...the song you've heard before. 

Are we inspired, or are we original? 

Linen

The linen sheets on our bed are ripping. It started with a small hole, near where we sit to remove our shoes and socks. There is a thirty-six inch space at the edge of our bed that is open air, with the walnut topped dresser on one side, and the ninety-degree angle that comprises the back edge of our bathroom on the other. 

At first, I paid no mind to the tiny rip. Surely it was keys, or a belt buckle, that caught on the wrong day, one of the ones where I've not made the bed. Time, as it does, wore on. We'd peel back the sheets and press our bodies firmly into the mattress, often dirty, broken. There are drops of blood on the sheet now, an injury that wasn't addressed or perhaps not even noticed, leaving it's mark. 

I noticed another hole a few days ago, the day I stood at the worktable outside, the gnats swarming my eyes and crotch and armpits, and I couldn't breathe. The air was so thick and wet, and my clothes clung to my body in that uncomfortable way that only the deepest of the South can cause, and as I worked on tiny, shiny little details, I began to gain weight. It was slow at first, and I didn't take note...perhaps it was the humidity, and the gnats, so I swatted them away and covered my sticky skin with sticky repellent and fisted a beer.

I worked, and rubbed at the cast aluminum with polish. The weight wasn't going away. I was heavier, and the air was thicker still. Was I imagining it? Was it real? Had the day heated? I clicked on the fan, one of those loud industrial ones you shout over, good for creating wind strong enough to push away the gnats and mosquitos, to dry beads of sweat and drenched brows. 

I counted the holes in the sheet tonight, as I curled in bed with my laptop and a bit of wine. Sixteen, with more on the way. The sheet is thinning, ripping open in places and exposing the mattress underneath. The threads are separating as we sleep, as the day wears on and the movement of life pushes on them, as we roll in them and reach for one another in a desperate cling. 

"They were supposed to last a lifetime," I say, a nod to the manufacturer's promise. "They were meant to be with us until we were old." 

This Wet Bandanna of Navy Blue

It’s the kind of hot John Prine sang about. 

It got so hot last night, I swear

you couldn’t hardly breathe

I alternate between a cold beer and warm water, the beer was in the icebox, the water sits on the counter. My tank top is thin and cropped, a soft shade of cream that keeps me cooler than if I wore anything else, though it’s streaked with dirt, coffee, and blood from the dryness of my nose. I lifted my finger to the dried blood, and I must’ve touched my right breast. 

I’m standing with the rug pushed back, my bare, reddish-brown toes thick and swollen , and write. I flick away a fly, only to touch a tear of sweat trickling down the back of my leg, carrying with it gray dirt. The shower from yesterday morning in a city campground, the kind where you feel strange getting naked, because you wonder what all has gone on there, a distant memory. Was that only yesterday? 

I wear a wet bandanna of navy blue ‘round my neck, and from time to time, take the pup and cat out to the spigot to douse us all. It’s a rare and wonderfully lonely afternoon, a rarity on the road and our little space that we call home, and the heat forces me to stand still.