Lenna Pierce

Taurean Secretion


Milk is just another word for the love a cow feels for its child and it is among my top five secretions. The best thing to do with it is to mix it with sugar (love should be sweet, the sweeter the better), and with fruit (the love a plant feels for its children), and then freeze it so that it will last forever (love should last forever). Then you mold it into the shape of a breast and put your mouth on it so that you can revisit the happiest moments of your infancy, at least subconsciously.

I was laughing with my friend when we were teenagers one day, about how much the people of Nebraska resemble the cows they raise while the people of Iowa resemble the pigs which are the backbone (and ribs and sausages) of their economy. As Nebraskans, we both agreed that cows are much more beautiful: they gather the tough grasses to make soft milk, they stand in the mud and sing.

Because communists were not allowed to travel, I remember when, just after the fall of the Iron Curtain, my mother took us to meet her family, and the Prague Airport had only one concessions stand: an ice cream cart with three flavors. In the innocent poverty of communism, no artificial ingredients were available and so the ice cream was incomparable, a revelation after a short childhood of adulterated, impure American icecreams.

When there is nothing to do and all ambition is forbidden, and food shortages are common, people return to nature. Czech families under communism and in the period that followed, blessed with ample vacation time and no other creative outlets, built themselves cabins in the mountains, often from scavenged building materials, and spent months at a time there. Pantry shelves were full of home-canned fruit from the garden, nipple-like cherries to put on the ice cream.

Years later, a lover came to Prague with me from New York and we took in the sites of history, a castle, a cathedral, a clock, a cemetery. What he found most shocking was the ubiquity of ice cream sundaes. They were so cheap that he insisted on buying one for me at every dinner. Because the Czech word for ice cream is Zmrzlina, and my name in English is Lenna, he began to call me Zmrz-Lenna, or ice cream.

This lover, sucking the cream from your lovers, infantile pleasures, subconscious memories of childhood: I had accidentally found a partner who liked to tell me what to eat. Later on, tellingly, he forbade me any ice cream. Perhaps I had begun once again to resemble a cow.

I went to Prague alone recently to sing a concert in a bar. Zoning laws have changed or capitalism has accelerated: I found there American chain stores from my other, American life. Most disturbingly, a “traditional” Czech ice cream cone made of croissant like pastry was being sold everywhere in the historic city center, and generic gelato stands had replaced the natural ice cream I remember. No doubt low-cost additives made the ice cream more profitable and the people were happier but I was angry.

I took refuge in the National Museum of Czech Music and saw an exhibition of fairy-tale music: operas, folk songs, remnants of a pagan past, a long dark history frozen and sweetened and fed to children; folk gods hiding in the marshes, a devil who children must learn to bargain with.

The milky sweet lullaby is the root of all song, it is best if a fat woman sings it under the moon, we have ancient statues to this effect.

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