Chapters
Bits and Pieces

The Cutting Room

Leftovers Poems and Pieces for Pauline

While first structuring this project, I had a reserve of poems that were the inspiration behind this story’s mood. They unfortunately didn’t fit well into the narrative without interrupting it, but I wanted to honor them somehow. I feared I might look well-read but poorly-spoken if I was overdependent on poems; it might be a disassociated mood board of too many abstractions.

Still, I’ve always been a fan of the poetic. I had tucked in my mind an anthology for Pauline since the beginning. All kinds of excerpts reminded me of her, my mother, or myself, saved in a haphazard Rolodex of references.

"Gilda" (1946) "Gilda" (1946)

Small stories float into my memory every now and again. They didn’t fit the narrative either, but I wanted to include them somewhere.

I.  Uncle Paul sat diagonally from Pauline at her dining room table, helping her fill out checks for unpaid bills. Her lapses in memory are worsened through her not taking her medicine, which from my impression, she protested the regimen. Uncle Paul and Aunt Rocky have to remind her daily. Even then, it’s possible she’ll skip them regardless.

She was signing a check for the water bill.

“What do I put for memo?” she asked Paul.

“Write shuǐ shǐ (屎),” he chuckled. “English for ‘shit-water’,” he clarified while very amused.

“No! Who made you speak that way? We don’t say that. That’s white people talk,” she dismissed.

Uncle Paul laughed even harder. Pauline has the capacity for jokes? I was amazed.

II. Uncle Paul got up to search for something. Don’t remember what. Might’ve been something archived from Grandpa that he thought would be useful/interesting to me. It was just me and Pauline at her dining room table. My eyes scanning the room must have made her nervous; occasionally she would coo in a self-conscious attempt, thinking I was judging her kitchen. I was admiring a tin of jasmine tea, but she might have thought I was pegging her as some kind of inferior.

I never wanted to make her uncomfortable. Instead, I thought I would show her my cat, Boomstick. He’s beautiful enough to turn any conversation light-hearted.

I showed him to her on my phone.

“This is my pet, Boomer. Big cat.”

“Beautiful,” she smiled. “Such blue eyes. He boy?”

“Yeah.”

“You need to get girl cat. That way you can be grandmother.”

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