Leanne Grabel

Sometimes I sit on the couch with my husband. (It's brown leather with brass studs. You know the one. Too round to be stylish anymore.) My husband sits couch right. I sit couch left. I go get an orange from the fruit bowl in the kitchen. And I peel it.

I plop the two largest sections in my mouth. The sections fill up my mouth, which is small for a mouth. Juices squirt from my mouth. It's delicious. Oh, oranges. The fruit of my youth. Maybe I should ask him if he wants some, I think. Then I ask him, "Hey, Husband, do you want some?" And before he answers, I give him three sections. See?? I used to be stingy, so stingy. But see how I've grown? Yes. I'm heading for generous. I'm learning from him.

I feel an epiphany coming on. I think it's right around the corner. It feels like
I'm about to turn my head and stare, by accident, at a paperclip, or the old
satin couch cushions, or a fried egg, and I'm going to know something. I feel
like I'm going to find an answer, or a reason, or a light is going to fall upon a
crotchety, longlived shadow. I'll feel a small warmth. I'll feel it in my
shoulders, in my neck, behind my ears. I'll feel in in my brain. I'm going to
open my mouth and gulp a new air I've been needing. It might happen any
minute. I'm going to find a billfold full of fifties and antidotes. And I'm going
to take it. Wouldn't you? And I will tell my husband. At first, I didn't think I
would. But I would. And he'll say, "What??" And I'll get irritated that he isn't
more enthusiastic.

I have a floater in my eye. It's about the size of a five-letter word in a 12-point font.
Like melon or rebel or peach. I only notice it when I’m bored with what I'm reading.
Which is most the time. (I'm sorry to say.) (It's those words that come from the chin,
detached at the throat, that bother me.) Sometimes my floater darts about like a
gnat, hiding language so masterful, a truth is revealed. (And I miss it.) Sometimes
my floater seems the size of my husband as I sit on the couch and glance right.
Sometimes there's a book on the couch in the middle. Tonight it's Charles Simic. I
pick it up. He writes, "Poetry is the cat chorus outside our window, or three
mismatched shoes." Somehow this all seems sage and connected, yet annoying. I
want to ask him if the poets' message has changed. From celebration and despair to
warnings and alerts. From hallelujahs to confirmations of terrible mistakes. Oh. I
see the shoes. Shoes are easy to see. One blue flip flop, one red high top, and a dirty
boot about the size of an oven. The boot is scratched at the toe. The scratches look
like language. Careful and even. I can't tell what the language says, though. Because
I have a floater.

Leanne Grabel, M.Ed., is a writer, illustrator, performer & retired special education teacher. Currently, Grabel is teaching graphic flash memoir to adults in arts centers and retirement communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. In love with mixing genres, Grabel has written & produced numerous spoken-word multi-media shows, including “The Lighter Side of Chronic Depression”; and “Anger: The Musical.” Her poetry books include Lonesome & Very Quarrelsome Heroes; Short Poems by a Short Person; Badgirls (a collection of flash non-fiction & a theater piece); & Gold Shoes, a collection of graphic prose poems. Grabel has just completed Tainted Illustrated, an illustrated stretched memoir, which was serialized in THE OPIATE from 2018-2020; and HUSBAND, a collection of graphic flash memoir. Grabel's illustrated flash memoir will be published monthly in Another Chicago Magazine in 2020. She and her husband Steve Sander are the founders of Café Lena, Portland’s legendary poetry hub of the 90s. Grabel is the 2020 recipient of the Bread and Roses Award for longtime contributions to women's literature in the Pacific Northwest.

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