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Paisley Rekdal up next at ABR series

By Carolina Astrain
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."

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