so much depends…

by Robert Scotellaro

We sat on a couch for wallflowers who sipped their drinks. She struck me as old-fashioned. Like she would have ridden a bicycle sidesaddle if she could. Outside, a blizzard banged at the windows. I told her I was a writer. She said, Who isn’t? That she had a cousin who made up names for rodeo bulls. Chicken on a Chain was one. Said: He writes. The crowd thinned and took much of the body heat with them. She pulled out a joint. Asked what I wrote. When I said poetry, she said, Who doesn’t?

We smoked it to the nub and went into the kitchen. Put our hands over the red coils of a toaster. Smiling when they touched. She said she had a favorite poem tattooed to her left cheek. Would I like to see it? I said, Sure. She lifted her dress, tugged at her panties. And there it was: Williams Carlos Williams’ The Red Wheelbarrow. In Courier. Like it was typed there. I was buzzed and the image of the red wheelbarrow and the white chickens seemed so basic, so necessary to me.

Your turn, she said, putting herself back together, and our hands rose up again. I considered what it was I had to offer. Gazed out at a landscape losing its color. A snowman gaining way too much weight.

Robert Scotellaro has published short fiction and poetry in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. He is the author of six literary chapbooks, and another due out by White Knuckle Press (2014). His story “Fun House” is included in the forthcoming anthology Flash Fiction International by W.W. Norton. A collection of his flash fiction, Measuring the Distance, was published by Blue Light Press (2012). A full-length book of his micro fiction, Close As We Get Sometimes, is due out later this year. With Dale Wisely, he co-edits the online journal One Sentence Poems. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was the recipient of Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry. Raised in Manhattan, he currently lives in San Francisco. Robert can be reached at: www.rsflashfiction.com

What fascinating, surprising things can you tell us about the origin, writing, revision of this piece?

    This piece was inspired by a photo I saw. In it, a young woman had the imagistic poem. “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, tattooed to her back:

    so much depends
    upon

    a red wheel
    barrow

    glazed with rain
    water

    beside the white
    chickens

    I thought of that tattoo as an intimate secret she had, hidden under layers. Poetry inked into her body. Permanent and undisplayed. Hieroglyphs depicting some aspect of her sensibilities. The story sprang from that point.

    As the story developed, I began seeing in it a kind of metaphor for what we show of ourselves and what we keep covered. The surfaces that inform first encounters/impressions, contrasted against the small, deeper reveals. How sometimes, self-examination can arrive unexpectedly, from unlikely sources. And give us pause.

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