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Exquisite Corpse
Issue 8A Journal of Letters and Life

by Nancy Kangas
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I was ovulating and knew it
There was a chicken coop that was supposed to double as a vegetable grower (peppers, tomatoes). The vegetables grew but when they hit the top of the coop they died:withered, no light.
     I was ovulating and knew it, in bed with Dan Juan and then I say -- man, you go girl -- I say, "Do you have a condom?" That sobers him up. He goes out looking (doesn't say yes, doesn't say no).
     But before that: we're there under the covers, partially, and the phone-speaker comes on and it's my brother Rudy and he's saying, "Practice." That's odd because ha ha, he might be talking about sex, but it's more about chicken-raising.
     There's all this talk about the chicken coop and how we should've made it. Wider maybe? I think it should've had a hinged top lid so it could be lifted up for vegetable growing and set down when the chickens hatch and need shade from direct sun.
     There was the health wall: Rudy's idea. Painted purple. He wrote health 'cheers' on it in ball point (it barely showed) and my mother wrote nearly indecipherably, "I love you" but I knew what it said. Keith and Shirley wrote some, but mostly the wall was covered with Rudy's senseless short quips.
      I just kept thinking the chickens were doomed.
I was on the phone with Karen
I'm too excited, I can hear her tire, so I try to check myself and interrupt only when it comes hot or tidal. Like when she mentions Australia, I can't help it. I jump in and ask, "When? what? what'd you do?" She slows it down and says, "Yes I've been the organist for seven Eucharist churches in all." And this is enough to get me blundering in again, except I'm sitting in front of a small, clear pond with a pleasant abundance of lily pads and reeds and cattails. Then suddenly a large dusty beige Siamese cat (chocolate features, chocolate ears) jumps in and begins swimming breaststroke vigorously. And the cat's grinning, because it's so darned pleased with itself and the ruckus. So I say, "Excuse me, Karen, hold that thought. There's a cat here just jumped in and started swimming!" But after a while she says, "You know, Nancy--" something to the effect, "-- this isn't working. There are too many stops and starts. Too many times it could've gone off into something wonderful, but it didn't."
     She has been lying on a fainting couch and I've been beneath an awning at the brink of spring.

I was interviewing the Royal Family!

They were all wearing beautiful white gowns, not silky material, but soft, gauzy white dresses. The men of course were in black tuxes. And it was me and two other journalists and one photographer, but it was very informal -- they were all just standing around. I was sitting on top of a tall table, utterly star struck, but of course they were used to that sort of reaction, so they didn't mind.
     Then I finally think of a question: I say, "Well, what do you think will happen in the future?" And they (they were so polite!) think politely and give it a little polite thought, and one of the princes is about to answer -- when the library calls (on some cordless phone) and it's Russ, who says, "When are you coming in today? We thought you were coming in at one!" And I say, "Well, see here. I said maybe I'd be there at one, but something's Come UP." (Clenched teeth:Oyalray Amilyfay) The phone itself was sort of interesting, sort of annoying. I couldn't get it to stay on, and soon even the Royal Family was trying to help me figure out how to get it to work. Then, zoop, back to the first scene with me trying to figure out what to ask/talk about. That's when I noticed that some of the princes (they were all grown-men princes) were playing over in the corner with some little kids' brightly colored car set. And I made a mental note to write, "The Rich seem to be playing all the time."
      Then I was talking one-on-one with an elder member of the family (they were actually all quite old) and I saw that she had two fake eyes! Not glass, but wooden, and painted rather crudely. Of course they weren't quite tracking together, so there was that, too. Ah ha. I'd always heard that one of the Royal Family had fake eyes. It gave her whole face the appearance of a folk painting-portrait, really quite endearing.
     Finally, as the Royal Women were saying their goodbyes, the Royal Men lined up by the curb, hands relaxedly clasped behind their backs, waiting in some Royal Ceremonious way for the limos to arrive, when they would relaxedly, ceremoniously, open the door for the ladies all dressed in white.

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