I Pretend To Be Living My Own Life
Katharine VanDewark was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and lived a bicoastal life as a child. Moves were regular—every three years—with final settlement in Southern California, where she graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a BFA in painting. She has been a fine art photographer and dancer, and has been writing poetry since the 1980s. She hosts a monthly writing group in her living room and seeks out open mike nights to read her poetry and hear that of others.
Her work has been published in the Poetry in the Garden anthology and in Coracle. She is grateful for the guidance and instruction she received from Regina O'Melveny, Peter Levitt, Jeff McDaniel, Jack Grapes, and Suzanne Lummis.
From Russell Edson, The Clam Theatre
"My therapist cured herself of a blood disease by running kitchen water
through her veins," I said to a friend who
sat cross-legged on top of the spotted linoleum table.
I could tell she sensed the vacant chair next to me, when it erupted
into a spasm of Stuart Dybeck.
"Where is she now?" my friend wanted to know. "Living on a hospital in Montana.
She goes to a ranch twice a week to stop the bleeding."
The olive shoes had black soles, and though they lay next to one another,
their noses pointed in opposite directions.
"They look disjointed somehow," I thought, "like they could be
sliding down hill and climbing back up at the same time."
The cylindrical eye of Mr. Sony Overhead Projector hovered on the ceiling,
flight commander to a formation of rectangular box lights
each face gridded into four squares and two rectangles.
I took it home because it claimed to be "easy to apply."
"Everything's easy in a Yellowstone winter," I sniffed, and dodged the sheets
of flying foamcore as they headed for their landing bins at the left of the room.
They roosted themselves in filing order and with a rustle of drawings
settled for the night.
I looked at the folded brown paper in front of me. I marveled when,
with just a twitch, it formed three enclosed sides. The forth was open.
I picked it up and put my head in it.
Her feet were crossed at the ankles. Resting on the floor they looked as if
they couldn't decide if the "e" should go before or after the "l."
I gave them a nudge. They clenched. I could tell in a flash they were displeased.
Smoke began to rise from their surface. Just then, a coral snake walked
through the crack in the door. "This surely is the end," I muttered but
the feet didn't seem alarmed. They simply got up and stood their ground.
The snake stopped halfway, transfixed by the marbleized eddy of painted toes.
"Gershwin Goes Koblenz" I read. Impatient to learn more, I spat two quarters
from my mouth and put them on the counter. The barrista looked confused.
If it wasn't hot and steaming or iced and mushy
he didn't know what to make of it. But he was young yet.
A puddle of experience waited for his eager brain.
The picture on the front page showed old buildings turning into treble clefs
Gershwin into a baroque façade.
"HALT! Who goes there?" the dog growled from the shadows.
"It's only me," I said. He asked for identification and I unpacked
my stainless steel nesting pans. "The general asked me to come," I said.
The dog looked like he wasn't buying it. "It's true," I bristled. "Just ask your pal."
I could hear him muttering into his hat, but eventually
the gate swung open and I climbed the ladder down into the pit.