Secondary Characteristics | Wendy Lotterman | The Hypocrite Reader

Wendy Lotterman

Secondary Characteristics


We’re here.

It’s more gorgeous than we could’ve possibly imagined. 
Anthems of earlier summer vacations clamor inside me, a hive, a bingo chamber totally hostile to chance. 

Got word of something to do with pick-up sticks. Can’t discuss it now, tho I care. Yrs truly took us far afield, a little too far for the legibility of EMERGENCY spelled backwards. The evenings are crisp. You couldn’t possibly imagine. 

Girlies, this one's for you. Remember Rincon & the ribbon of ants parading so neatly along your pillow in citrus filth, the burrows the other bugs made, the fuss we punished by withholding the Precious Moments from one of you and not the other. 

Porcelain ratio, and god did I want it.
Dad stern, Jenny ruins everything, caught reveling––always—in the excess of remorse meticulously expressed. You could make a whole other outfit from the slack she horrifically spins out. Could be plenty, in this case it’s waste. But we packed so efficiently inside the smallness of previews pronounced as the feature. Called them mini-pies, slow additions. The panic that hung around half of the house, gaining reverb within the scrimmages we now play separately.

Only later would unanimity be enough to drive a doorstop into the bloom of mythologies that lost their way, the way the coin purse absorbed my undoing into a toothy fabric exterior that bore visual repetitions of those who collapsed here before us. I don’t return. Mom unfolds, italic, in the emails.

Made popcorn, then young enough to stammer in wonderment over sweet adorning savory. Where does the kettle come from? Don’t know, but I am small & prefatory enough to sit shirtless on the countertop and be so easy to believe in the conspiracy delivered three times.
          Wen you went awry.
                                                 Sitter cried days’ worth in Maine.
                                                 Queasy from milky complexions.
The chill sent by that and the unknown fungus, which looked like bubble gum in June. I remember mostly the dock, something twinkly in the water that vanished like a fortune-telling fish when I tried to approach it.

Today I learned that the court tore Baby Girl from some sweet nest to the steel nursery of an archaic tradition. Today, it tore me, too. Today I left the house to find we are two minutes from the water, water on all sides, absolute tranquility in every corner—the pantry, the nook under the stairs, the mossy concrete that eases bare feet into the greenery. We play checkers on the deck and are coursed by a bliss you cannot fathom.

Sent a pic, subject line: “Need I say more!...” It’s blurry from my hand, bobbing in excitement & equivocating between two different frames which together become this mist you’ll have to sharpen optimistically in yr gaze. We’re doing things up here I won’t mention!!! Packed so right. Smells like cinnamon toast in a way that no office can. Tastes like dispersion in a way that evades me.

If only you could just see it, in which if is a scarecrow whose face you’ve demolished in the hopes that not a single itinerant soul will approach—that the false dare-devilish rise & fall of the words you wash over the windows becomes the memory we quote in the original, splitting the sweetness like layer cake. Boy are we full all in precisely the same way, having filled every last recess with the very confection we crafted in the fun-house of our private foundry. You can't possibly imagine the tenor of these unparalleled replies in their flutter of accordion cinch & diffusion.

Grant me this, the graduation from looking big in small clothes to looking absolutely undetectable within the wilderness of a t-shirt whose name becomes irrelevant like the postulated shape of this planet which we know to whirl outside of any sensation of dizziness.
          Ask me nothing about the temperament of Bulls.

Synonyms for wait. Uneasy with primary characteristics, I find out later that the dander was heralding a thicker stock of forest that would crowd me away. I wanted to remain there, in the billowy question of When It’d Come. Spoiled, too many questions. I was told everything as if the monument’s material were indifferent to the scenery that beats from the addition of heat. Moving quicker, as honey under the influence of sun. But I knew that, and in my heavy tiptoe west I also knew I was asking too much, visiting cities too probable to be real.

The other day Majority said Baby Girl cannot return, the law being greater than the landslide which kicks back in the comfort of a loving thicket. The way decisions weighed me awry, the way I can’t possibly win this away game in which I’ve swapped out the controversial bliss I wriggled out of just to find another in.

I have watched the canopy of the BQE make so many people believe they know where they have been before, and they don’t.

Bay area mist conceals all points of ingress where there aren’t. Bad joke, harborless, national crust. I erased all digital content in the expectation that the animated arrows were a glitch, personified, totally reversible.
          Spooky diorama.
There is a ghost in my phone, or someone who believes in the expedition of the game & asymmetry of its scoreboard.
          You have to stop.
Not even a question as to the balance of loss, knowing that this collaborative piñata will be the rock that gains value from the myth in the imprint of a fossil that went missing. But I knew that, and now I know this forest to be greater than the sweetness in the hive.

*              *              *

I’m getting hacked, someone is trying to get in as I do my best to wriggle out.

My shade is so impossibly savvy, whizzing beyond every mechanism that I get stuck at.
Got stumped at the landmark, came face-to-face with a tumbleweed & stood stymied by the cartoon simplicity of having not a single way to run around it. I felt ill, went to the cabinet, recklessly endangered all other information pertaining to the margins that I have to return to from the one I must move away from. Took an anti-inflammatory. Called Ezra. Communicated poorly.

I saw the track team in the park and got young & covetous like I used to.
Went to Staten Island for a milkshake, got sick from the waves, the last time I’d sleep with James.
I develop a theory about laps & collapsing one at a time.

I miss Gil, but we forgot how we talk.

Charlie, simple, claims he is an artifact. In the intermission, I go something like:

Listen, I'm really not trying to be gratuitously difficult or punish you. I know this whole thing has been characterized as a grudge, but it isn't. It’s horrible to be obligated by kin to keep close to a situation that grants me nearly zero opportunities for agency, save avoiding occasions that introduce battles I’m weary & bored of fighting. It seems like you & Jen think I can just decide when & that those battles vanish, that I can just "come around"—a party line I totally detest—but that's really not how this works. So the only thing I can do right now—maybe, terribly, forever—is take care to keep a comfy distance. If that makes you feel like an object, then that's tricky, because I think denying me the choice to avoid is insensitive to my subjectivity, my tiny range of motion. So when you ask whether I mind if you come to Jo’s party, all I can do is say "I mind." But do whatever you want re the party. I'm sorry I made you angry; I hope you don't mistake that as the goal.

This is not the biggest thing in my life, certainly not my priority. So yes, minimization is accurate. But Charlie, can't you understand that I don't want it to be big, that making it small is one of the only ways I can modulate a whole category of events that happen around, beyond & without me.

I proceed, greedy.

          I won’t go on vacation. I scrimmage, on my own, in San Francisco.

Call, claim, contest. Caroline begins like the bad sibilance revealed. Fatigue naturally collects in the center by way of some carnival force with too much sugar. Could be plenty, certainly is you. Makes me want—still prefatory—makes me sick & small inside a T-shirt with Bulls.

More words for sugary, full entry.

Michael was right to say all figures of authority & then the fish.

*              *              *

I find myself propped upside down in anticipation of cinch & diffusion,
learning somehow that I am like honey.

Locally known for monopolizing the early seconds in which someone is waiting for my arrival, delaying the sweetness promised in consumption.

Feels good though—to be also enlisted for strength against the element in which others make their stakes and collapse safe in the sweetness of my nursery. I summon something that dates back to the patterns that mattered before us, the native shapes sewn on the coin purse by the ones who won back Baby Girl by believing deeply in the neat distinction between in and outdoors, and the face on their family’s revision.

I pause, interrupted by the expiration of the only backdrop against which the predictable ball-point toile of my habits does not disappear into a forest of pigment and forfeit the game to the patterns that matter before me. I do move slowly. With so much residue refusing to unhinge from the walls, it beckons some thrill-sick adventurer to climb by faith in sweetness. So I do, vacating the warm channel where some bubble-gum growth is keeping my parents cleaner company beyond a fence like the fish that disappears as I approach. Except now I only ever withdraw, keep that red fish pressed between two pages in the back of a book. Only recently can I really get to the still village stuck to the center of the snow-globe, the consumptive masterpiece where I now live. The telling becomes a gymnasium in which the anxious sneaker-squeaks overwhelm every name announced within it. The game deflates. Baby Girl is wrested from the thatch of constant greenery as I opt out of the field beyond the scarecrow who subs in as the door that keeps care of my family’s heat. Someone dissented, I can't remember who. The whole aquarium of signs spills onto the floor as I use my dresser as a staircase and topple with it. I remember perfectly the way I consented to the majority opinion and vacationed inside the PORCELAIN RATIO I never got but later became.          The whole forest repeats me.          The fish dies & we address our weary greenery, finally calling off the face that acts as the mist, or the window, still sudsy & telling us to wait. We release the wedge below the door to our private foundry, behind which we collapse in the lap of mythologies repeated three times & forget to say anything nice about the fish or the salty interiors that make us so sweet.