Road Signs of Pigs Eating Pork Frank Montesonti
If a cynic were asked why the world was created they might say it was so the goddamn car could break down in this small, Texas town with a clapboard sign of a pig taking a bite out of a ham hock; hell, they might claim Texas itself is a cosmic joke to turn urban sophisticates selfless, stuck five-hundred miles from the real world for eternity. For the cynic, any sort of hell would suffice, I suppose, as long as it was properly unpleasant, not some shadowy, un-signified underworld. That shit doesn’t fly in Texas. No Hades or anything found in a textbook. And no loud wailing or self-pity. You take your punishment like your own signature pitched you off the world. On the cracked television in the repair shop were more commercials where animals can’t help but plead to be eaten. They are noble examples. Helping after helping they confirm their texture, their flavor, until I become queasy that there may be some slipped logic in myself that dream-world uneasiness where the signature turns to consume its signatory and I start to suspect this waiting room is hell— the vending machine of red-hots, the old World News and Reports washed out by the Texas sun, the smell of fresh tires, the landscape itself, twisted and alien, almost too unreal to be a temporary stop, too unreal to be a place where they just let you sign the bill and drive away, self-congratulatory on your journey through hell also known as West Texas also known as the wide wicked world, without starving, without the world being joyless Where the optimist might even reflect, though in its own personal hell, even the sign in Texas is eternally fed.
Pomegranate Eavan Boland
The only legend I have ever loved is the story of a daughter lost in hell. And found and rescued there. Love and blackmail are the gist of it. Ceres and Persephone the names. And the best thing about the legend is I can enter it anywhere. And have. As a child in exile in a city of fogs and strange consonants, I read it first and at first I was an exiled child in the crackling dusk of the underworld, the stars blighted. Later I walked out in a summer twilight searching for my daughter at bed-time. When she came running I was ready to make any bargain to keep her. I carried her back past whitebeams and wasps and honey-scented buddleias. But I was Ceres then and I knew winter was in store for every leaf on every tree on that road. Was inescapable for each one we passed. And for me. It is winter and the stars are hidden. I climb the stairs and stand where I can see my child asleep beside her teen magazines, her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit. The pomegranate! How did I forget it? She could have come home and been safe and ended the story and all our heart-broken searching but she reached out a hand and plucked a pomegranate. She put out her hand and pulled down the French sound for apple and the noise of stone and the proof that even in the place of death, at the heart of legend, in the midst of rocks full of unshed tears ready to be diamonds by the time the story was told, a child can be hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance. The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured. The suburb has cars and cable television. The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world. But what else can a mother give her daughter but such...