Browntown

by Sarah Schwartz

I remember that the house was brown-sloped. Awkwardly, a ski lodge. It belonged in Vermont.
I remember California’s January caught in the rain, rivulets bleak and rising, her streets taken by surprise again. All our shoes soaked through, a foggy mass piling up by the door. So we went bare foot, didn’t leave the house, annunciated oddities and swapped faces.

I remember the notes stuck around the house. “No funk in the nook,” accompanied below by an apology for an admitted transgression. “I am the sky. I am not who I say I am.” My scrambling handwriting in red sharpie all over every bottle in the refrigerator so you would think of me when you squeezed mustard on your sandwich.

I remember the house’s habitual sounds. A cowbell rocketing upstairs and resonating somewhere intestinal, like panic. The open-mouthed vibrations of the espresso machine. A thumping house, like the bass that barged from Luke’s speakers.

I remember the cabinets in the bathroom, the mirrored doors positioned on their hinges to reflect our faces in three directions. Soft, full on, our lips and noses. Hard, our profiles, I noticed peripherally.

I remember the goldfish that discovered mortality in a hot frying pan, or worse, in the cold embrace of a throat. Even Nervous, the one who survived the feeding frenzy, soon died, his cardboard headstone propped on the toilet.

I remember the stubborn clog of the sink, arteries thick with grease. Up to our elbows, we abandoned angioplasty. Ate out of our hands.

I remember the cobwebs that gathered high in the corners. Our towering ceiling. Nothing to be done, but watch them unfurl, slow blooming buds of grey.

I remember the typewriter that sat on the living room table, paper rolled in, waiting with protruding patience. I found Will’s rumination on the limits of language and added to it. I was trying to say, “I’m here,” in my limited way.

I remember I insisted we make a wrestling ring of the bed. I needed an embodiment of my grinding jaw, relief in replication. You the upper teeth, I the lower. I wanted our force equal, but opposite. So I bound a hand behind your back, so I bound them both.

I remember the mischievous tree, bearing up its mystery fruit. First green and hard—limes, we thought. Yellowing, oranging, still sour, and with the pungency of rotten eggs that no sugar could cover. Ugly fruit, Gina declared, squeezing one into her rum.

I remember the way empty bottles and kitchen pots became percussive in our palms. Will would inevitably find something smashed by his hand and growl a tune about how even Jesus got drunk.

I remember ash falling from the sky, an orange exhaust. Amidst the blazing mountains, I was frantic to stub out your cigarette. While the whole damn dictionary was emptying itself of definitions, I wanted to clarify what we meant, to spell it out.


 

browntown_schwartz_photo_smSarah Schwartz is a first-year graduate student in Brown University’s MFA program. She primarily writes poetry and considers “Browntown” to be prose poetry.

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2 thoughts on “Browntown

  1. Clara says:

    This piece is genius! I really adore your writing style, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing your name a lot in the future. You are a promising writer and poet. You go girl!

    Like

  2. Clara says:

    This piece is genius! I really adore your writing style, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing your name a lot in the future. You are a promising writer and poet. You go girl!

    Like

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