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. 79
Onword
Fall 2022
Edited by Bradford Morrow

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November 30, 2022
Alice was actually a labeler and not a pickler. Still, she knew what Mr. H’s picklers did was nothing like her grandmother’s pickling, sweaty and stained and clouded by hot vinegar steam, shoveling already rotting vegetables into their boiling bath like some kind of unbelieving prayer. Everyone winced when eating what came out of her grandmother’s pickle jars. Mr. H’s were made of faceted clear glass, and the bobbing pickles inside were a bright, inviting candy-green. To look at one was to feel it snip crisply between your teeth, to set your mouth watering. Alice was midwife to that salivary burst. That was what she dressed up for. Today it mattered even more than usual.
November 23, 2022
I SAW ALL THE STRANGENESS IMMEDIATELY,

I saw it in this very particular slide of swell’s,
the sylphspun silk of the sylph, she sideways,
her garage is paradise in masque, her sweep
is saturn, szturn im sturm & string, install’d
in the area’s traverse. he follows that lucky
old sun, the gesture of her lining and loose
knot, and pulls herself through burns and a
dry wash and some soft lead. in discorporate
minerals, or in the sharing of the black sleek
sharing with the wild man in her soft shoes,
all over the panes of the various sworld and
out into the superhighway of bywater, hard
by marigny. to flow through one to another
indetermination, the posture of their brush
must be immaculate fray, all them, all they.
November 16, 2022
Day Book

One wants to grasp a latch.
The broken star, the cellophane.
One suffers if untethered from
the pain that brought a lock.
Across the way the husband tends his teeth.
The wife redresses, parted from her paper.
To emblemize, to separate the word
grief reaches. Grief reaches, unseduced.