Monday Mar 27

JA TYLER Author J. A. Tyler is the author of the poetry collectionVariations of a Brother War, the collaborative art / text experimentNo One Told Me I Was Going to Disappear, co-authored with John Dermot Woods, andColony Collapse, a poetic psalm. His novelThe Zoo, a Goingis forthcoming from Dzanc Books. He teaches theater and film in Colorado.

A Pelican

from The Zoo, a Going (forthcoming from Dzanc Books, fall 2013)

My dad says For fuck’s sake and my mom gives him a look that is the same look that means he shouldn’t have said Fuck.

Robert she says, and I remember then how that is his name, my dad, Robert.

It’s time he says and she says back I know, I know. I have a watch too.

We are still looking out onto this bird lake, with all its birds.

How many birds do we need to see he says, but he isn’t asking. Today has been the day of questions that aren’t questions.

I have questions that aren’t questions. How come when my dad grabs my arm I worry it might bruise? How is it that my mom can be up when I go to sleep and up when I wake, drinking coffee at the table already? And when they both go back and forth, my mom and my dad, about how much everything costs and how little they make, how is it that our family doesn’t just finally tear apart?

That pelican can swallow whole fish my mom tells me, Huge fish. The biggest ones. And I say Wow back to her, because it is strange that there is a bird who can catch fish and swallow them whole.

Whole? I ask, to make sure, and she says Yep. Bones and all.

The pelican out on the lake, swimming.

The doctor says my bones are rubber, always bouncing back. A trampoline he told my mom when she took me again, your son Jonah. But some days I don’t feel like rubber. Some days I feel like it is possible my bones are made of glass.

That pelican, sitting there on the water with its big orange beak, it could swallow me, bones and all, and how dark it would be on the inside of a bird. How still and wavy it would be, with nothing but black, swallowed down, sitting in its stomach, feeling its wings flap when it flies off.

I am a too big fish I say out loud but meant instead to only think it, my mom turning her eyes to me with a look like she is surprised. What? she says, with a little laugh in the back of it, and I just say What? Nothing, and like it always does, when I stay quiet and pretend I didn’t say anything at all, it all goes away.

The Crane
from The Zoo, a Going (forthcoming from Dzanc Books, fall 2013)

On the edge of the lake is a turn of sand and dirt and there is a crane, fenced in by itself with big wings and the feathers atop its head, walking along the fence, back and again, like it is watching all the people go by.

Crane I say to no one.

It has white wings with black tips and red around its eyes. It looks masked, ready to go out warring, like it is painted. When it walks the head moves out and back and its legs jerk up and down, what it might look like if a bird were made into a machine, if this bird were a machine.

Strange bird my dad says, and my mom says Crane, and I stand between the two of them, their hands not holding now, my mom’s arms crossed in front of her and my dad’s hands in his pockets.

I like it I say, because it is quiet for so long, and it goes on quiet still. This is one of those times when they have nothing to say. They don’t hate each other, my mom and my dad, they are only tired, and it is nice to be in quiet once in a while.

But I cannot hold my mouth closed today.

It’s like a machine I say.

It’s legs look mechanical I say.

Like full of gears I say.

Gas-powered I say.

I am a bird I say.

Peck, peck, peck. I say.

My mom and dad stand there, watching that crane go across and again the fence, watching us with its beady eyes and red war paint. The feathers on top of its head like tall grass. I want to be a lion, crouched, chasing down this crane, eating it whole. I want to swallow down its meat and wings, the red on its face and those feathers.

I make the sound of a roar and then of chewing and neither of them laugh, my mom or my dad, but I go on like a lion, because I am, and I can’t help myself.