4.09 / September 2009


There are rooms with windows and rooms without, and naturally, the windowless ones are the worst. Windowers, as the occupants of these rooms are called, compensate with paper and markers, taping their representations to a blank wall. The most desperate draw curtains, and sometimes a small potted flower on a sill. In this way, they are able to endure, approaching their tasks in a makeshift, crablike fashion.

Until it’s time to throw something, most often, a clock. The expectation of shattering glass, the horror of harming a pedestrian, is replaced by cracked plastic, a single battery rolling across hard carpet. Or, in the worst cases, a crumpled wad of paper with a numbered face and flapping bits of tape ricocheting off an obdurate pane. We find these windowers on the floor, indian-style, weather in their eyes.

Telling Maybelline Jones

Maybelline Jones is my sister, my friend, and I try to tell her the right way to be. “Look how other people do things,” I say, as she handstands across the grassy verge to get the mail, returning with it in her teeth. “Remember what happened to mother,” I warn, as I comb grass and scurf from her hair. But Maybelline Jones doesn’t listen; she tends to the world with the salt from her eyes, and speaks to me with the blue of her skin.

One day enough is enough and, eye level with scraped knees, I tell her, “Look,” I say, “You are mismatched, awry, an odd genus. Breathless, like our mother, heedlessly joyful, like our father; drastically askew and out of place.”

But it is too late. She is out the door and down the street, somersaulting away from me.