Conjunctions:76 Fortieth Anniversary Issue

Three Stories
The following is one of three stories by Diane Williams featured in Conjunctions:76, Fortieth Anniversary Issue.

 



Popping


She selects a deep-dark violet eggplant that is not shriveled—green beans that are not dirty or coarse—a cucumber that’s not too thick or puffy.

This plaid-dressed lady’s voice is faint and singsong and why does she tell herself things that she already knows?—as if she is talking to a stranger—Any avocados that aren’t soft? Fresh celery? Do you have fresh grapes?

A man the lady sees lifts a Moonglow pear, and although its skin can be bitter, he presses it to his lips. And this marvelous pear, after he puts it back down, is competent to shed its aura all over a kiwi.

As a matter of fact each and every color here at Shim’s is popping around. And not merely a few of us can be distracted by all of this—the history of art teaches us.

As she dawdles near a shop that sells oddball crockery and miscellaneous gifts, the lady receives a wink from Max Hinks. And since she had long wished for this eye contact—she is now well gratified. Oh, the eggplant?—she’ll dice it and fry it, and until then it will be refrigerated and covered to prevent drying—same for the beans. The cucumber will be slashed nearly instantly.

And during this era, all injury to this lady beyond reasonable wear—all losses shall be made good to her satisfaction and when she is injured or lost—the responsibility for her shall be widespread.

This was only the case last year, when her life was not so fast-paced and gripping as it is now. Now there are persons at her side timing her vitals—until, sorry—until she is dead.

She did tend to her husband when he was ill, and she was nice to him, although they had arguments about money.

Money is foremost in her husband’s mind and what he likes best are durable and practical things—stainless steel tableware and the like, that bear no resemblance to his late wife.

He is especially fond of his Waring two-slot, light-duty toaster that was produced with no hazardous material.

It is electric, 120 volts, 950 watts, and is considered by many to be the greatest toaster ever made.



 

Diane Williams edits NOON. Her Collected Stories (Soho Press) is available in paperback. A new book of her stories, How High?—That High, is due out from Soho Press in fall 2021She is the recipient of four Pushcart Prizes.

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Vol. 78
Fear Itself
Spring 2022
Edited by Bradford Morrow

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from between the lines of Another Love Discourse
July 27, 2022
Silence
 I thought I was good because I had borne the brunt of society’s manhandling, because through halls
of terror I fled and gangs of girls followed me, seeking to press thumbs deep into
my arms, cheeks, back of my neck, thighs, because goodness lay heavy in the air around me, because
most around me were powerful underprivileged role models, I thought it good enough
to know and read vexatious histories and in my own private sanctum feel the pain, to dwell
in sorrow through theater and dance, that just by being around, goodness could rub off on a person
July 20, 2022
The island appeared in the playa –
            a thick family of vegetation in sand
            as if risen from the undulation of blued snow over
            grasses, purple. Huddling
            through time, as bodies green and dark
            in me knew better, yet compelled me
            to run from the tall thick house
            where I lay resting
            and take refuge from the wind
            where wind blew.
 
July 13, 2022
The feet trudge the path of the eyes.

Vouch for snow-covered trails skirted by galvanic tamaracks,
the previous fall’s needles a carpet of #2 pins.

Vouch for garrulous waxwings captivating powerlines,
mesmerizing middle C and rising,
coloratura clouds.

Vouch for the rich acoustic world of moths
fallen silent, streets of pupal stillness,
bodies suspended in glycerol sleep.
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