how we met :: mary ruefle

I very much dislike being at a buffet

The first time I saw
the little man in the radish swing
swinging out over the vegetable tray
was himself a radish,
I was happy

I would be happiest if there were
a whole village of radish people,
as many radish people
as there are buffet people
I hope for each radish person
a ‘sister person’ in the room

I am half radish myself

Some say the best thing you can do
is carry a pair of little scissors,
snip small pieces of the world
and take them home with you

These scissors have cut hair
The scissors have cut string
From these scissors come my fragments

You can cut a rose from a radish
or little people who are happy swinging
in a room of bigger people, the excited throng
cut from cloth

At the banquet I stood next to him
When I pushed the swing he smiled at me
Fast friend are the best
It is good to have a bunch of them

We each chose a piece of
preposterous melon and
for the sake of a little quiet
removed the seeds

You see?
From radishes come joy

to a magazine :: mary ruefle

I am rejecting your request for a letter of rejection. One must reject everything in order to live. That may be true, but the rejected know another knowledge—that if they were not rejected, heaven would descend upon the earth in earthly dreams and an infinite flowering of all living forms would form a silveresque film over our sordid history, which has adventitiously progressed through violent upheavals in reaction to rejection; without rejection there would be no as-we-know-it Earth. What is our ball but a rejected stone flung from the mother lode? The rejected know that if they were nonrejected a clear cerulean blue would be the result, an endless love ever dissolving in more endless love. This is their secret, and none share it save them. They remain, therefore, the unbelieved, they remain the embodiment of heaven herself. Let others perpetuate life as we know it—that admixture, that amalgam, the happy, the sad, the profusion of all things under the sunny moon existing in a delicate balance, such as it is. Alone, the rejected walk a straight path, they enter a straight gate, they see in their dreams what no one else can see—an end to all confusion, an end to all suffering, an elysian mist of eternally good vapor. Forgive me if I have put your thoughts into words. It was the least I could do for such a comrade, whose orphaned sighs reach me in my squat hut.

super bowl :: mary ruefle

Who won? I said.
The game’s tomorrow, he said.
And I became the snail I always was,
crossing the field in my helmet.
But I’d given it my all,
while the plane arced on its way
to a landing, when I overheard
the woman behind us say
I was gathering wildflowers to make a wreath
to lay on my mother’s grave when my son
fell off a mountain in Italy

and I felt such joy over the unknown
outcome of her words
I was not ashamed,
for I can feign interest
in the world, just as she
in that great green meadow
must have.

the bunny gives us a lesson in eternity :: mary ruefle

We are a sad people, without hats.
The history of our nation is tragically benign.
We like to watch the rabbits screwing in the graveyard.
We are fond of the little bunny with the bent ear
who stands alone in the moonlight
reading what little text there is on the graves.
He looks quite desirable like that.
He looks like the center of the universe.
Look how his mouth moves mouthing the words
while the others are busy making more of him.
Soon the more will ask of him to write their love
letters and he will oblige, using the language
of our ancestors, those poor clouds in the ground,
beloved by us who have been standing here for hours,
a proud people after all.

perpetually attempting to soar :: mary ruefle

A boy from Brooklyn used to cruise on summer nights.
As soon as he’d hit sixty he’d hold his hand out the window,
cupping it around the wind. He’d been assured
this is exactly how a woman’s breast feels when you put
your hand around it and apply a little pressure. Now he knew,
and he loved it. Night after night, again and again, until
the weather grew cold and he had to roll the window up.
For many years afterwards he was perpetually attempting
to soar. One winter’s night, holding his wife’s breast
in his hand, he closed his eyes and wanted to weep.
He loved her, but it was the wind he imagined now.
As he grew older, he loved the word etcetera and refused
to abbreviate it. He loved sweet white butter. He often
pretended to be playing the organ. On one of his last mornings,
he noticed the shape of his face molded in the pillow.
He shook it out, but the next morning it reappeared.