“Claes Attempts to Understand Women” by Tana Jean Welch

Tana Jean Welch


          Today was the first day he questioned his control of the space around him. Pedestrians knocked him about, like a pinball in a cruel arcade. The woman he loved just kicked him out of her apartment, told him never to come back.
          They’d made tremendous love that morning. He brewed her coffee. Where did he go wrong? He brought her a muffin and shared his next great idea: to build a monument to her knees. Porcelain knees standing thirty feet high on the River Thames in London. He set his eyes on the Victoria Embankment, the perfect location for glorious knees, and envisioned a long, lean river cruiser resting below the scar on her left cap.
          His lover was less than grateful for this gesture. She smacked the hot coffee from his hand and told him the world was not his to mold and shape. The skin on his hand still burned. The world was not his to mold and shape? Wasn’t that the way one lived? Weren’t we all molding and shaping, deciphering and initialing the space around us? He should have stayed with Roxanne. She thought him genius for the clothespin in Philadelphia. Each giant half like bodies fastened together, entwined, each nerve pinched relentlessly. And the young coeds at Yale went crazy for his colossal lipstick monument, straddling its rising red tip. When President Brewster wanted it removed, they staged a sit-in at Woodbridge Hall. These women knew what it meant to love.
          He continued down the street. The city air moved out of his way, almost afraid to fill in the space behind him. He was a great force in this light and knew it. And when a young girl walked by him with a flower in her hair, he turned after her, reached his muscular arm and plucked the yellow Snapdragon Sun from her head. “You no longer have a flower in your hair,” he announced proudly. “I took it with my own hand.”

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009

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