Treehouse

online magazine for short, good writing

Month: August, 2014

That time I was in Australia and we pretended I was a film producer

by a contributor

Rebecca Hanssens-Reed

I am in Northern Victoria with David making a film about grassroots democracy and gradually slipping into the skin of somebody that looks like me but acts the part better. I wear the idea of myself like a suit, a poor sack, woven from expanses of self-deception. This is the time of year when everyone talks about this time of year. I remember how beautiful I wanted to be and the days I believed it was tangible and the time I thought I’d captured it. Oh how I’d like to burst and be open. The canola fields are endless like an inverted manifestation of my worries. Bright and golden, the little flowers are weighted with surrender. The mornings in the country are tenuous, waiting to be pulled apart. We sleep in a dream house I have no business dreaming in. Two buddhists live here, housed in the monolith of their peacefulness. Their faces are the tattered prayer flags of the afternoon. David and I admit we felt shameful before their mindfulness. Today I read my horoscope, the usually forgotten prophetic hopefuls, fragile insights. Days like these, the days i can’t help but self-narrate with banal reflections such as days like these, i feel vulnerable and whimsy enough to fall victim to such haphazardly drawn premonitory vague daydreams. Somewhere in Wangaratta we stop to shoot overlay: the cows that won’t stop staring. I leave my purse on the car hood for just a moment and an eight-eyed spider has its way with the slopes of black leather, overlapping gossamer arcs of ephemera. She is the size of the mole on my abdomen, but more frightening than the prospect of slow, sinister understandings. If I could see in sixty frames per second perhaps she wouldn’t be so frightening, but there are many things I can’t keep up with. Sometimes I awake in the middle of the night and mistake the explorations of a mouse for the knocking of a ghost at my door. I’d prefer the ghosts, of course. Every night is an orb that glows and floats away. I’d like to depend on the gravity of these words but they, too, escape my mouth and go running. There is a dread slithering through me like a silverfish worse than the chills from a bee sting. I know that nothing is connected but sometimes I feel I could string it all together with my silky, expansive arms and knot it all around my heart. We have been chasing the perfect shot of a sunset, meanwhile the scab on my right shin shines like a morbid sunset, and another sun sets on the hopefulness of honest articulation. Before this picturesque landscape I am fraying with the thought of my ordinary demise. We are nowhere near to letting go.


Rebecca is a writer and translator whose work can be found in Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Saint Ann’s Review and The Reader. She is currently at work on a translation of Jorge Ángel Pérez’s book of short stories, They’re Not So Elegant in Havana. She works at an organic bakery and is successfully growing her first tomato plant in Northampton, MA.

See Rebecca’s list of 5 Things tomorrow.

In the past we wore stiff linens

by a contributor

Rebecca Hanssens-Reed

We must invent a new language to discuss the nature of change,
and perhaps wear a uniform as strict as the passing of time, made of stiff linens.
I will pass the perfect sounds around like a loving cup,
like contagious giggling, a bubbling of guffaws and snorting,
clicking tongues and gnashing dentures, tearing eyes –
I need someone to install a light well in my chest. I’m not ready.
As I discuss the nature of change the skin of my eyes very slowly shifts in color,
my hairs turn grey, long, thick blades of grass curl around my ankles,
bees swarm around my wrists and one by one drop to the earth,
the sunset behind me grows a deep purple.
In the background, a kookaburra chants its haunting melody,
becomes a hummingbird, flies backwards.
It is not in my nature to meditate on death, only to fear it.
Today was white and silent. The continent of your birthmark stares
plainly at me as you stand abashedly before the mirror.
Your pale skin murmurs, soft and shallow like a lake.
Listen: the sharp harmony of all the love notes I ripped up
when we were fighting.
And the peach tree in our backyard has given up, twisted itself in spindly stitches.
We greedily watched it growing, little peaches swelling,
stretched our eager white arms to point at the ones we would bite into first.
We were too full of lust,
like an overly ambitious novel (i’m looking at you, DFW).
Now look down, clenched in your soft palm, your grandmother’s locket
containing a photo so old some chemicals have seeped out, glued itself to the frame –
Remember your grandmother’s eyes that were tired and full of skin,
over the gray noise of the television she said: men are shit.
You inherited her eyes and her bitterness. But you swear
she would never wait as eagerly as you do for the peaches.
It makes you never want to get out of bed again (I haven’t yet).
I am eating bread that I am well aware has mould on it.
But today I did the coffee just right
and I’m finally letting my hair go wild.
We share everything to the point that it is tragic. There is a field
of sunflowers growing inside me,
and you and I were dancing like bees that found the richest pollen
in the flowers of ourselves.
Tonight is tart and chewy like a black olive.
The cold change hasn’t come through yet.
Install a light well in my chest. I’m ready.


Rebecca is a writer and translator whose work can be found in Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Saint Ann’s Review and The Reader. She is currently at work on a translation of Jorge Ángel Pérez’s book of short stories, They’re Not So Elegant in Havana. She works at an organic bakery and is successfully growing her first tomato plant in Northampton, MA.

See more poetry from Rebecca tomorrow.

Sunday

by a contributor

Rebecca Hanssens-Reed

If I was tossing and turning last night, it was because I was walking through my parents’ rotting garden again, looking at the overgrown rhubarb. An old friend was there, but only ever visible from the side or walking behind him. Then I became a teenager and you were a child and I was running after you. You snuck into the aquarium and lived in the shark tank, on top of jagged rocks and a waterfall. The sharks were also babies. Yesterday the rain fell thick and heavy like mud. The house I live in is mostly a hallway, sometimes with bare feet in it. At the wedding there were so many darlings. The light was shining deceivingly. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw the bridesmaids’ snarling snouts, their teeth sharp and glinting. You play with my realities like you finger the change in your pocket, speaking in tongues, or are you just sneezing? My head has been buzzing for days, or maybe only minutes. Before I go out I put on my selves like a pleated skirt, for instance, do you happen to have tweezers? Some things are still left to the imagination, like who this cat actually belongs to, what it is fed and why I think I belong here more than this cat. It seems unnatural to be this far away from my mother. In the afternoons I excrete something less like perspiration and more like a damp heat and nervousness. Homesick is when you miss how you sweat in a place. When you forget where you are until you step into the warm shower, feel the scent of wet earth and body rise out of you, remember that you are human. Other times all you are is an open wound. There are cliches I don’t mind, like whispering onto a highway, and by now everything exists and is subject to manipulation. And, for the record, I can flatten the landscape with a wave of my hands, catch red glass on my knee, and make you want me again.


Rebecca is a writer and translator whose work can be found in Dressing Room Poetry Journal, The Saint Ann’s Review and The Reader. She is currently at work on a translation of Jorge Ángel Pérez’s book of short stories, They’re Not So Elegant in Havana. She works at an organic bakery and is successfully growing her first tomato plant in Northampton, MA.

See more poetry from Rebecca tomorrow.