Carl Phillips vs. Corn Nuts, et. al.

by Shaina

I go out with a book and it reminds me of the man in the movie, which makes me think, better not fall into trouble lest they stuff me with books. And I get a beer and I get some corn nuts and I open my book. And I read half a poem. It’s Carl Phillips. The book contains a lot about cheating lovers. Half way through the poem, I realize I’m not listening. I re-read. Re-read a sentence a third time. OK, the birds are flying over the icy pond, I see now. Their shadows are contained by the pond, not reflected, Phillips says. That I understand. I begin to read the next half. I read the last sentence. And then I realize I was distracted by the corn nuts I can’t stop eating. They are bulbous and salty and savory, and what was that, Carl, about an alternate world with you and your lover? Only I was distracted by the ’50s rock playing in the bar and the corn nuts grinding between my teeth, which briefly reminded me of the millstone I saw on a field trip to the Phillipsburg Manor when I was eleven, which they used to grind grains. Wheat, I think, or was it corn? Like my teeth. I need a toothpick. And I re-read the bit about trust, about how knowing it was breached is safer than hoping trust works…and then I texted my sister back, and what about love anyway and the page yelled at me, and I was sorry, sorry for my wandering eye. I re-read again, and I think, I think the comprehension was there. Crunch. The first time I ate corn nuts was on a family vacation when we stopped at a Subway. The thing about books is they’re so quiet. So quiet and so very unassuming. But he knew about a lack of commitment when he wrote this, it seems, Carl did.

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