Paisley Rekdal up next at ABR series
Sept. 24, 2012 at 4:24 a.m.
Why Some Girls Love Horses
By Paisley RekdalAnd then I thought, Can I have more
of this, would it be possible
for every day to be a greater awakening: more light,
more light, your face on the pillow
with the sleep creases rudely
fragmenting it, hair so stiff
from paint and sheet rock it feels
like the dirty short hank
of mane I used to grab on Dandy's neck
before he hauled me up and forward,
white flanks flecked green
with sh-- and the satin of his dander,
the livingness, the warmth
of all that blood just under the skin
and in the long, thick muscle of the neck-
He was smarter than most of the children
I went to school with. He knew
how to stand with just the crescent
of his hoof along a boot toe and press,
incrementally, his whole weight down. The pain
so surprising when it came,
its iron intention sheathed in stealth, the decisive
sudden twisting of his leg until the hoof
pinned one's foot completely to the ground,
we'd have to beat and beat him with a brush
to push him off, that hot
insistence with its large horse eye trained
deliberately on us, to watch-
Like us, he knew how to announce through violence
how he didn't hunger, didn't want
despite our practiced ministrations: too young
not to try to empathize
with this cunning: this thing
that was and was not human we must respect
for itself and not our imagination of it: I loved him because
I could not love him anymore
in the ways I'd taught myself,
watching the slim bodies of teenagers
guide their geldings in figure eights around the ring
as if they were one body, one fluid motion
of electric understanding I would never feel
working its way through fingers to the bit: this thing
had a name, a need, a personality; it possessed
an indifference that gave me
logic and a measure: I too might stop wanting
the hand placed on back or shoulder
and never feel the desired response.
I loved the horse for the pain it could imagine
and inflict on me, the sudden jerking
of head away from halter, the tentative nose
inspecting first before it might decide
to relent and eat. I loved
what was not slave or instinct, that when you turn to me
it is a choice, it is always a choice to imagine pleasure
might be blended, one warmth
bleeding into another as the future
bleeds into the past, more light, more light,
your hand against my shoulder, the image
of the one who taught me disobedience
is the first right of being alive.
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Paisley Rekdal, ABR Fall Reading Series
• WHEN: Noon Thursday
• WHERE: Alcorn Auditorium, University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.
• COST: Free
ABR FALL LINEUP:
Mat Johnson - Oct. 10
Johnson is author of the novels "Pym," "Drop" and "Hunting in Harlem," the nonfiction novella "The Great Negro Plot;" and the comic books "Incognegro" and "Dark Rain." He frequently writes about race and culture issues.
Norma Cantú - Nov. 8
Cantú publishes pieces about a number of academic subjects, as well as poetry and fiction. She specializes in Latina and Latino literatures, Chicana and Chicano literatures, border studies, folklore, women's studies and creative writing.
Jake Adam York - Nov. 29
York is the author of three books of poems: "Murder Ballads," winner of the 2005 Elixir Press Prize in Poetry; "A Murmuration of Starlings," winner of the 2009 Colorado Book Award in Poetry; and "Persons Unknown."
Paisley Rekdal's writing is sort of like that Björk song you can't get out of your head.
It's not the writing or the beat that sticks with you, it's the scene that stays - that moment that you've sat through before.
The award-winning author is able to deliver a strong, intimate scene in a mere 20 words or less.
Rekdal will give a reading at the University of Houston-Victoria's Alcorn Auditorium at noon Thursday.
At the reading, Rekdal said she hopes to incorporate a pecha-kucha style presentation of her book "Intimate."
"You get 20 slides and you get 20 seconds for each slide," Rekdal said. "It's such a hard book to read straight from, so I figured if I did a pecha-kucha, people would get a real sense of what the book is about."
Despite her Chinese and Norwegian ethnic background, the author said she considers herself mono-cultured.
"I've had a lot of experience living in both Asia and America," Rekdal said. "I'm very American, which is one of those things living in Asia teaches you very quickly."
The associate professor of English said her own hybridity has shaped the way she looks at the elements in her writing.
"It's a certain kaleidoscopic presence that you have," Rekdal said. "Your appearance is always changing."
In her book, "The Night my Mother Met Bruce Lee," Paisley wrote about teaching English in South Korea and a visit she took to Taipei with her mother.
Rekdal said she was constantly asked about her background because her ethnically ambiguous appearance.
"It's funny being a litmus test for other people's ideas of nationality and race," Rekdal said. "It's kind of exhausting but I have to say I sort of think of it as a gift."