Week 1 – Breadfruit


Cooper Union Collage by Jeremy Kargon

Knowing by Ajay Nair

‘You are a little porcupine, aren’t you? All sensitive and bunched up and thorns shooting out your body.’ She said this in a gay, sing-song voice, her head bobbing up and down. She was a big woman, a massive, misshapen tree of a woman, wrapped in a rain-coat the size of a tent. She wore a cap on her head, its beak peeking out, drops of rain slipping of its edge like so many pieces of transparent candy.

Stroman, eleven, looked up at her as she pushed against him on the bus-stop. She had a fat face full of curves and if this were a movie, she’d be a cinch for the kind neighbor.

‘So what kind of girls do you like, kid?’ she asked again, her voice swaying dangerously in the breeze that was lifting up from the just-rained-on ground. She could squish his head between her thumb and her forefinger if she wanted to, Stroman thought.

‘Or is it boys you like?’ Her voice came out low and even, no cadence any more, no music. It was the smooth, hard bark of a tree. The curves on her face had straightened out and her eyes were squinting down at him, tiny stones of accusation. Stroman felt a prickly heat spread inside him in spite of the rain.

My Love is a Breadfruit, Falling from the Sky by Christian Bell

He never mentioned his song “Breadfruit” fell from the sky, landed in his hand. The song climbed the charts: most downloaded, most played, most everything. People everywhere humming the lyrics, your love is breadfruit, falling from the sky, slicing me open, heart primed to fly. He never revealed one day he awoke to pouring rain, thought he heard someone strumming his guitar. He walked to his living room, walls of windows, the world outside wet green grass. Inside him, a feeling. Go outside, walk, over the hill, to open field. His first experience with such a feeling.

He moved through scrambled eggs and crisp smoky bacon. Next to him an open sketchpad for lyrics. Steady rain became sun and breeze. The feeling still there. He said, what now, echoing in the room. The feeling pushed him. So he went outside, across wet grass, water and pine scented breeze. Over the hill, into open field. He stopped, looked skyward, extended an open hand. How dumb, he thought, then suddenly, a falling object. A green sphere, surface like sandpaper, landed gently in his hand. Breadfruit—somehow, he knew, without ever seeing one before. He stood there, gazing first at the breadfruit then to the sky, fear moving to wonderment. He spoke: breadfruit, falling from the sky.

That happened six months before. Since then no more feelings. Some mornings, though, he awoke to phantom guitar strumming. Some mornings, he looked to the sky, thought, I’m wide open, I’m ready to catch what’s next.

Stations of the Cross by Maggie Sokolik

She had seen those nutjobs who carried Jesus-sized crosses around the Old City, walking the stations of the cross in their self-serving piety. They were worse than the Haredim, the hard core Jews with their goofy hats and bald wives. Each hat told where its wearer was from, although she didn’t know which hat went with which place. She imagined the big fur ones were from Poland, or some other frigid clime.

There it was–a cross, leaning in the corner against the ancient wall. She had often wondered how heavy they were. She picked it up and felt its weight–lighter than she imagined. A stone in the wall of the Via Dolorosa showed the symbol VII. She had no idea what the seventh station was–an Arab shopkeeper across the narrow cobblestone walkway said, “Jesus fall the second time.” He didn’t look up from his newspaper.

“What?” she asked. His coffee smelled like cardamom.

‘“Jesus fall the second time. You want a map? Ten shekels.”

‘“No thanks,” she said. “Can I just look at one?”

He shook his head.

“Do you know where the eighth station is?”

“Around the corner. By the souk. Jesus meet the daughters of Jerusalem.”

She picked up the cross, put it on her back, and walked towards the scent of cinnamon and cloves.

The Treasures of ‘Ulu by Doug Bond

She has promised you medicine, her best silk, and the treasures of breadfruit, the one she calls ‘Ulu. All types of tricks and sorceries. It is close, just the other side of your skinny island. Tonight go to the pool house, you will find her there.

Stare well into your reflection, the small portal window. Light the rope end, pull shirt loose, cross arms, listen. You have followed her instructions and picked the ripest globe from the tree, the one she said with white sap on the skin. The long pole and hook has lifted it free. Hold the curved blade sharp on your hands. Strike at the bone.

Light cracks the pool house, and you find her there wrapped in an aquamarine tapestry, her bare legs folded under float lines, waiting with handfuls of small cut jewels and feathered red scarves. The cone lights ghosting a blue and green fog split the far wall with candle wick shadows.

The wind tricks the lock shut. The hourglass is turned. Your feet touch together and you hold them.

Bells on the fishing boats flail in the harbor, and the causeway beams white from the signal light tower. Feel the distance and opening of its arc to the sea, beyond the outer bar, where unseen ships slip further into black.

Forward to Wk #2 – Fancy Me


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