What is an auspicious number of kisses? I introduce myself around. “Hello, my hand is brutal from handling sticks.” Or if I were the type to joke I’d say caterpillars. 

I don’t. And I don’t say Gesundheit. I say, “A sneeze is a kind of rapture.”

Margot says, “I’m from Pennsylvania.”

Everything specific reflects against a larger mirror, a Pennsylvania of the mind. I do other things besides reading: I use cups, I’m inconsistent as a custard.

I look at a clean puddle. The plastic spinner I feel myself to be but I feel myself too to be the puddle. I enact what I think I look like at a party.

“I thought this was the kisses party,” says Margot, “but all I see here are papers and gray lines like someone drew a picture then erased it.”

The image is grainy for a reason same reason the sun goes down and drinking.


I invite my professors too and only one comes to my party at the house I share in the foothills.

“Emily, can you come here?”


And at the party Sarah and Brad, who brought huckleberry pie, are the most relaxed. Outside we talk about their chiminea and when I tell them I’m from Pennsylvania Sarah says, “The first oil well was in Pennsylvania.”

I share my yard with my housemate Jenny’s dogs, two pugs who are always breathing.

Though Brad doesn’t step in any poo I think about it.


Someone brought a lime and I’m surprised to see it in the fridge the next morning.

“Jenny, are you home?”

She isn’t. I draw four pictures of my laciest bra and hang them up. In a way, it pleases me. I call Sarah to tell her she was sweet to come to my party.

She doesn’t answer.

“Talk to you later,” I text her, later. 


Joan arrives first and tells me she has a new strategy. I tell her that to prepare for the party I squeezed lemons on the floor.

“I’ve never known you to prepare,” Joan says.

When I look out the front window to see who else I see mountains and firs like a Lynch scene. My drugs are kicking in, I think.

Aunt June tells me I look beaten. She’s wearing anklets and heels.

“Is Jason here?” she asks.


“No, your cousin Jason.”

“Not yet.”

I didn’t invite either.


Aunt June walks over to Joan and fiddles with the refrigerator waiting for Joan to finish explaining that she’s now only dating people named Alex to a disappointed Barry.

Later, after we’ve built and flown them, Barry steps inside to ask me what’s so sticky. I ask him to let me know when Jason arrives.

“I will.”

I catch David winking at Barry.

I go into the bathroom and take a great slow shit.


Goom looks over and I think she knows. The knapweed is out. The knapweed gets into my socks and itches.

I show Goom deer pellets when she looks over. Goom, her back to the birch, waves her hands.

Goom itches her leg.  

“Goom, can we go down to the covered wagon today?”  

Pickles and wet walnuts brown on bread.

Goom packs the picnic and I play with my memories. There are two apples, two potatoes, two ducklings, two muskrats.

I like to drink my water at the old covered wagon.

“Goom, I like your legs.” The covered wagon is rusting and in the sun when we sit down. Goom nods. Goom spreads out the picnic.

We eat and we watch the prairie dogs. Goom stretches out her legs for a nap.

I can play with the accordion of my body.

I put my legs over the side of the wagon to tempt the spiders. I swing the hammock of my body into the sun. Goom doesn’t move while she naps.

Goom and I in the vetch. The grasshoppers.

John Myers's work has been published in inter|rupture, LUNGFULL!, ILK, Handsome, Spork, and PANK and is forthcoming in Aufgabe and H_NGM_N. Collaborative work (with Brian Blanchfield) has appeared in Hot Street and The Destroyer. He is a social worker.