Two Poems by Colette Arrand
On Watching Tiny House Hunters in a Waiting Room
The boyfriend wants to live
in the kind of house
seen in viral Facebook posts:
small beaux arts, miniscule
arts and crafts; intricate monuments
to the necessary minimization
our kind. The girlfriend struggles
with the size of the kitchen. Here,
he says, anything can be
our kitchen. He’s saved a little
money and wants to spend it
trying to feel a kind of smallness.
Today, his living room
is tucked against boulders;
tomorrow, she’ll shelter
in the bedroom. They leave
for the mountains, the right couple
for wild territory. In the morning,
she watches him arch his back
and hunt for water. Every night,
she finds herself eroding
into the landscape. Her boyfriend
is euphoric. He has seasoned
his body with dirt,
wrapped it in the gossamer
threads spun by spiders
during the night. She presses
her face into his chest
and breathes him in,
a suffocating astronaut
on a newly oxygenated planet.
“The only Pokémon people can anticipate can fly into space. None has managed the feat yet, however.” – Pokémon Yellow
A memory that is not a memory is a virus or something like it: an interloper, shoulder set against the wheel and pushing in the direction opposite my own. A memory that is not a memory is a dream that I remember like a memory, a dream that I can recall like a memory, a dream whose story I can tell like a memory. Most dreams are fledgling. They pass or fade, too dull to recall. Some slip the subconscious and become something else: Real and not real, simultaneously.
These dreams are how I pick up my reputation as a liar. The sky is green outside and sirens are wailing and my classmates wail with them, but I have a calmness about the whole thing, storms and dying in a storm. There’s a group around me and I’m telling them how it’s possible to survive a tornado because I’ve survived a tornado, or at least lived through one. I say that I was playing in the street in some other Midwestern town when the sky turned and a twister touched down, that it all happened too fast for me to do anything and that I was picked up and hurled into a car or a tree, something hard and suburban. Someone asks me how I survived and I shrug: The thing is I don’t know how to die.
I have never seen a tornado before and it won’t be long before I am called on it and branded untrustworthy, but my memory of the storm is perfect and real and not at all a metaphor. When my grandmother felt like talking about something besides my weight, she would expound upon the theory that some of us are sensitive to past lives, that our bodies are decaying vessels for a series of past experiences and old knowledge. I’m troubled enough, believing in my body; too much to believe in any lives I might have led before it. But it idea, or something like it, is frequently suggested as an explanation for what I am. A television show suggests historical trauma, that trauma is the alpha and omega of a transsexual experience. A physical therapists suggests that I am a product of factory pollutants my mother ingested while I was in the womb. I tell myself that I don’t want to know what caused me and this is true, but it leaves me with a pile of fragments. I sit in my darkened house wondering how they fit together, wondering why it matters that they do. I take pills. I try to sleep. I tell myself the medicine affirms a story no one else would believe, but really I’m trying to build a vessel capable of surviving orbit and reentry.
Colette Arrand bio goes here.