Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 8 • Winter 2003 • Fiction

In the beginning

Susan Stinson

Hor: O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
Ham: And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.

I was reading in the garden with my shirt off: drifting through random passages in Hamlet, cleaving to the music unless meaning insisted, which surprised me every time.

Queen: Be thou assur'd, if words be made of breath,
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou hast said to me.

Summer squash and pumpkin vines twined their way over the old jungle gym my lover had rescued from the dump to use as a trellis. Parents -- awakening to the dangers of height and metal bars -- had torn it down and hauled it away from the school. My lover brought it home from the dump and belabored it back into a dome. In winter, she stretched plastic across the bars and used it as a greenhouse, but in this season it was the dangling plants themselves that shaded me beneath them. One small green pumpkin hung overhead. A hunting spider worked a web. The mosquitoes hadn't found me all afternoon, though the heat was thick enough to hold them in the air even without wings.

The big book lay open on the upside down milk crate I was using as a table. I leaned forward to let my fingers rest at the bottom of a page, touching a textual note in minute type, then I copied the line into my notebook.

Larded: adorned

I took it for a poem. While I delighted in ravaging scholars and greatness this way, half naked and the other half undignified in ripped parachute pants from the surplus store, I heard a thrashing behind me in the grass between the dome and the woods.

It was my lover, belly to dirt, working on her dance moves with wicked intent, doing The Worm.

Susan Stinson's third novel, Venus of Chalk, was published in 2004 by Firebrand Books and named in a Book Marks syndicated column by Richard LaBonte as one of the top ten fiction books of 2004. Her other books are Martha Moody, Fat Girl Dances with Rocks, and Belly Songs. Her livejournal can be found at www.livejournal.com/~susanstinson. A short story and an article about fat queer writers and artists is expected to appear in the December 2004 issue of Lambda Book Report, and she'll be reading in San Francisco on March 13, 2005 at the Writers With Drinks spoken word variety show. She is currently at work on a novel about eighteenth century preacher Jonathan Edwards. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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