Independent Streak

In fifth grade sometimes the best thing to do after school was craft with nothing but glue. Crafting didn’t need to involve paper or colored pencils or glitter, just a white bottle ending in an orange serrated carrot. Cilesse, one of my friends then, taught me how fun it was to squeeze perfect blobs from the bottle then smear them across our hands like the Milky Way until we could hardly see them either. When we pulled our palms apart from each other with the rare cautiousness of lion cubs, we discovered shawls for fairies: white lace with the lines of our lives and our hearts. A palm reader would run her thumb over the original copies on my 17th birthday and tell me someone special was coming into my life though she’d get the gender wrong.


But isn’t it funny we want things to stick together? Why can’t things stand alone in open rooms or corners? Why must pages have spines and what allows words to bleed onto pages in the first place? Why can’t aluminum peppered into glitter tossed into the ether always live apart from construction paper?


Glue is made from ungulates. At least, that’s what Grace deadpanned last week when I enquired about using Elmer’s for a project. “But it’s made from horses”, she said, and that made me pause. It was real late when I googled the truth and learned that the dead horse vats are a thing of the past and now the glue is one hundred percent synthetic. I will tell Grace later today. She will tell me the glue still isn’t natural.


Perhaps this glue fixation stems from the fact that Homo sapiens are lonesome creatures when solitary. We are afraid of cold flannel sheets beside us while the wind rattles old windows in winter, no hand to hold while walking past the purple painted sheep on 35th street to dangle our feet from the covered bridge, and most of all: having no one to make sure our buttons are not missed stitches when we race out the door. I wonder if it is too far-fetched to imagine a twenty-five year old ballet dancer furrowing his brows in prayer while painting a line of white on the inside of his arms, so he can slip off the stage, pad in crushed slippers to the back of the auditorium, hold out his arms and say: Stick with me to the person who sweeps the building every night at the same time, knowing that if they embrace it will last forever, through every last pair of his ballet and bath slippers.


When I was little, I went barefoot during summer. My feet were black at the end of the day from dust and pine resin. Pine resin worked dandy at cementing needles and brown broadleaves to my soles. I was usually impatient, but one time I held my feet in my hands and scrubbed and scrubbed until my soles were red, free from stickiness, and my eyes watered.




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