Thomm Quackenbush, author

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06.27.07 2:04 p.m.

You hate me and I hate you
And we are so polite, we two!.
.
But whenever I see you, I burst apart
And scatter the sky with my blazing heart.
It spits and sparkles in the stars and balls,
Buds into roses - and flares, and falls.

Scarlet buttons, and pale green disks,
Silver spirals and asterisks,
Shoot and tremble in a mist
Peppered with mauve and amethyst.

I shine in the windows and light up the trees,
And all because I hate you, if you please.

And when you meet me, you rend asunder
And go up in a flaming wonder
Of saffron cubes, and crimson moons,
And wheels all amaranths and maroons.

Golden lozenges and spades
Arrows of malachites and jades,
Patens of copper, azure sheaves.
As you mount, you flash in the glossy leaves.

Such fireworks as we make, we two!
Because you hate me and I hate you.
 

-Amy Lowell

 


And We Are So Polite

Dives Dives looks at me and concertedly turns her head away, actively ignoring me as I stand on the street in New Paltz listening to the band Tiger Piss playing their set. As I do not even acknowledge that she is ignoring me, I realize that I am not twenty-six as much as I am a twelve-year-old with fourteen years experience.

I'm not sure when this distance appeared between us. While some of it occurred naturally as she pursued a musical career and changed relationships and homes, most of it is forced. I sinned against her in some way, likely through the very entries you are reading. It would not be a first, though I always hope it will be the last. She asked her name and the names of all boyfriends past and present be removed, though I can't imagine the boys minded. I think she would rather I pretend she never existed in my life, delete any moment we shared, but that would be utterly false. What I write is sacred to me, as are those about whom I write with any length, and I won't censor myself accommodate momentary revisionism. Instead, I renamed her after the genus and species of the Melodious Blackbird, an appellation I felt she would appreciate, and did my best to rename her boyfriends in like fashion.

I momentarily consider walking up to her and politely making certain that we are indeed ignoring one another. I would hate to get that wrong. But I watched her long enough to make any first move, to give the half wave I receive from a dozen others who previously met me in passing and at parties. It seems from her perspective that we don't even rank as acquaintances now.

She wears a shirt stating she is a volunteer at this street fair, but I arrived here first. I am not going to leave the area simply because she doesn't care for me any longer. I do not know if this is what she would want and don't think she is going to give any sign to this effect but I'm not going to let her spoil my day simply because we aren't getting along.

Dan gets out of work a few hours after I arrive. He is the reason I am here today, since Eric and he are playing. Had I realized just when he was playing I might have arrived later, if just to spare myself the realization that I am still capable of acting as though I were in middle school. I convey to him the lack of events of the last few hours. He offers to flirt with Dives Dives - weeks earlier, she had waylaid him and handfed him Mexican food (which I believe counts as "third base" in some cultures) and he feels entitled to flirting now - in offer to provoke her into reacting to me. I assure him that I appreciate the sentiment, but will likely have to kill him to prevent him from such provocation. Fortunately and predictably, the music distracts him before he can further advance his cunning plan to make Dives Dives uncomfortable.

I don't know how long this can go on, though it is possibly indefinite. We share a circle of associates and similar stomping grounds, as well as concern for Orien Rose, so there won't be a lack of opportunity though certainly a lack of motivation. I have nothing against her, save that I resent when someone who has previously seemed quite fond of me reverses his or her opinion without my knowledge. I do not know her well enough to feel if this is typical or temporary. Aside from Dan's positive opinion of her ex (whose avian pseudonym I am not going to bother to look up, though I can't imagine he would be bothered with his actual first name being used) and my vaguely positive association with her housemate Peter (whose name I feel entitled to use, since I knew him years before she did, if never as well), I don't know the fate of her current and former friends. I know that she is very keen on rekindling a friendship with Emily, a fact I don't fail to find odd given the lack of transitive property. If I wanted to mend fences, I wouldn't do so by sneering at the parts of the fence this hypothetical person shares with their life partner. Anyone truly wanting a friendship with Emily should at least be willing to greet me in public. Piecing together her reasons for this leads speculation I don't believe in the least, no matter what torrid teen dramas the speculators have been watching.

Months ago, after Dives Dives's third tentative and ill-received message to Emily, I sent her a message politely inquiring after her well-being, a message that went ignored. I feel justified in saying I made an effort that I would not have had I been aware that I would thereafter be snubbed. What would have been Dives Dives's reaction if Emily were at my side at the street fair, rather than educating the future nuns in Dharamsala?

It has been pointed out in a very reasonable and logical tone that one should not care much about the friendship of one who behaves in this way. I likewise pointed out that I didn't do much to improve the situation or behave much better, though I would have had I knowledge of what was expected of me. Dan thinks that all of this is some massive misunderstanding and that we will all laugh when we realize the comedy of errors that has been preventing our effective communication. I find it unlikely that we can laugh if we aren't speaking.

Soon in Xenology: Hospital stays.

last watched: Dead Like Me
reading: The Light Fantastic
listening: Avenue Q

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Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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