Tiffany Brown

by theoystermangrove

Poetry

Flight #405

I’ve gathered all belongings,
Suitcases full of shit.
Duffle bags of ex sweaters,
Hatboxes tied in blue ribbon,
Rolling trunks and knapsacks filled with sand.
Tattered garment bags containing
Costumes for women I’d never become.
Shoeboxes and bad checks stuffed to the bottom
Of a passed over purse.
Ditch it all, left for someone else to claim.
Call the coat check for me,
and for you,
but mostly for us.
No one needs this much baggage anyway.

Essay

Wades Supermarket and Produce

(June 1991)

I was at the store on the corner of Brambleton and Colonial last night. Olivia asked me to pick up milk for our morning coffee, and although it’s in my old neighborhood, no longer a convenient store, it’s also the only one that carries the mildly pretentious and highly overpriced brand that we like. So I submerged into the florescent lights, screaming children sounds and morose adolescent staff stealing from the register, your typical postmodern American nightmare. I hate this place, with their angsty teenage cashiers. We could relate to their sentiment but never their circumstance; privilege can never be objective.

The aisles are freezing; I can’t catch my breath through the light fabric of my dress. Olivia hates the cold; you always wore layers and layers and layers. Lost in thought, shuffling through rows with no direction but inherent intention, I saw it.  A glass jar of store brand strawberry jam, sitting in the middle of a selection of parts: frozen meat slabs, animal bones and frosted dairy. Someone must have discarded the jar as an afterthought in route to the register for a night-shifter to reshelve.

“Nothing and no one likes to be isolated from their kind”, you’d say while returning whatever box or bag that was out of place. “It’s too reminiscent of the human condition. You and I, the cereal and the sodas, are all alone and it’s a miserable existence”.  Our late night adventures always ended here, looking for an antidote to the quickly encroaching light. Every time you’d tell me, every time you’d pick up that fucking jar and put it back where it belonged.

I don’t belong here. This is not the place for me; strawberry jam in a sea of milk cartons.

Laughter bubbles over at this absurdity, and I leave, milk in hand and wallet in purse. Stores in the South don’t have censors on the doors like they do in the city, I see the irony.  Doors slide open and rain starts trickling as the skies open with the inevitable clap of thunder. Summer storms are always different, in theory, but memory makes these facts minuscule. Dropping the weight of my bag as the raindrops started, slow patterns that gain steadily into a cacophony of noise, a real mess. I began to spin in the miss, so foreign from last summer’s insistent drought. Droplets poured down and I spun around and around, a whirl of color and flying hair like on the rusted playground carousels that we would seek out in the dark. Lifted up by lightening, soaked cotton dress cloud, I am free now.

Slow down, catch breath, gather things, turn key, and I’ll be home. And I’m still free.

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