Zoë Bossiere

American Spirits

If I die tomorrow, I want it told that I once baited the ghostly woman in my house with ladyfingers made by hand. I sat there all night in the corner behind the couch with a disposable camera, but she never showed up.

I want it told that I ate pennies from the roll like Necco wafers, that I ate nickels, too, when I was feeling extravagant and that you could hear the change settling with each step.

I want it told that, though the plight of the dodo resonates in my heart, the bird is really more beautiful in drawings and memory. The same can be said for any of the extinct birds I’ve found on the road leading into the city, their tiny hearts exposed and flat against the asphalt.

I want it told that I displayed the birds in a row on my mantel, ordered by size and color. The ones too mangled to properly preserve I sprayed with starch and mounted in picture frames. Most were once common pigeons, a few had been doves. I sewed little red buttons from an old shirt over their beady bird eyes.

I want it told that I once attempted to have sex in the snow, a la Mary Reufle, but my date stood me up. I built a snowman instead, and we stayed up all night talking about springtime and how colorful are the flowers. I took a picture of us and this too went on the mantel.

I want it told that I routinely drank a glass of colloidal silver with breakfast because I was working toward a more Avatar-like complexion. I told my landlord the bluish tint in my nose and fingertips was genetic. She suggested I get more sun and took to leaving swiss chard and kale in my mailbox.

I want it told that I chain smoked American Spirits and that the spirits of Americans smoked from my ears as I slept.

I want it told that Henry David Thoreau visited me one night and chastised me for leaving my copy of Walden in the trunk of my car for eight months, allowing it to become oil stained and curl into itself.

I want it told that my collection of empty Whip-It! canisters were procured from a reliable source; that I admire the way they gleam as they roll across the ancient wooden panels and into the hole where the floor begins to dip, landing in a graveyard of ping pong balls and bottle caps.

I want them to know it was me who planted things there; that I wanted to leave a story in my stead. Previously only the ghostly woman knew, but she isn’t one to talk, even for a plateful of your best ladyfingers.


No Ideas But in Things

Feet, swastikas, keying swastikas into car doors, keying swastikas into feet, stomping our gashed soles into the earth — stomping hard so the key rattles and our toes ache. Marks in his hand where the key was, blood from his foot where the swastika is. I am embellishing the blood, a little; the blood might only be ink. But there was a key and swastikas both in car doors and on feet. Or maybe there was no key but instead a pocketknife, or maybe the knife was not a knife, but only a fingernail. Whatever it was, it is what our mothers would call a terrible idea.

More terrible ideas: looking a strange dog in the eye, pinching your neck when everything is too real, singing karaoke, inducing cigarette burns, having a baby, forgetting your only pair of shoes at home, posing nude, even for money; saving your fingernails in a jar, believing the ghost stories, settling the score with baseball bats, eavesdropping, jumping into the shower without testing the water, jumping in a shower anytime at all; making promises to your parents, yelling profanities at strangers from the safety of your car, crushing ants with your fingertips just because you can, arguing with toddlers, becoming an internet celebrity, swapping your spouse, steering with your elbows, windsurfing, hoarding books you’ll never read, headbutting anything, making snow angels in the street, keeping a sex diary, photographing the evidence, spitting onto passerby from the rooftops, throwing knives, carving your lover’s name into your arm, drinking raw eggs for protein, sucking on pennies, freaking the mundane, hiding under the bed, building a homemade sex doll from cardboard and discarded socks, posting pictures on social media of you with your homemade sex doll; popping pimples, taking your boyfriend’s advice, stealing the neighbor’s family photos, ignoring the expiration date, digging in a dumpster behind the Whole Foods, eating the liver of a polar bear, even in an emergency; burning your name into the sidewalk with matches, rubbing dirt and lotion into your skin, nursing sick snapping turtles, wrestling in Jell-O, wearing prescription glasses for the sake of fashion, teasing a sea lion, shouting at the television, ogling the elderly, operating heavy machinery, selling yourself for theatre tickets and a night out in New York, writing unrequited love letters, living in a van by the beach, holding your breath in your sleep, smacking your lips on the subway, eating a double cheeseburger, taking candids of the unsuspecting, having sex in the snow, sleeping in your car, picking the wax from your ear with a paperclip, getting a spray tan, inhaling flavored sugar, kissing your gerbil on the mouth, drowning your eggs in salt, peeking through keyholes, peeing in empty bottles, chasing cockroaches with the heel of your shoe, collecting discarded matchsticks, “misplacing” your medicine, meeting your heroes, holding your tummy as if you’re pregnant on public transportation, taking a bus in Tucson, naming an animal, falling in love, playing bloody knuckles with needles and quarters, highlighting the sexy parts in library books, celebrating with silly string, summoning the Bloody Mary in public restrooms, strolling in the dark.

Zoë Bossiere lives in Corvallis, Oregon where she is an MFA candidate at Oregon State University. She is currently working on a collection of essays chronicling her parents’ adventures as Hungarian circus superstars in the 1980s. Her favorite dessert is flan. Other published works and significant life events can be viewed at zoebossiere.tumblr.com

 … return to Issue 8.1 Table of Contents.