Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 28

28 | Psychopomp Magazine

Rae Bryant

Your Life in Four Whole Fried Chickens,

Fourteen Easy Lessons, and a Derrida

You never take drugs in high school but you drink a lot of Old Milwaukee and Boone’s Farm and Peach Schnapps. You learn to hate Peach Schnapps and Boone’s Farm. Your mother sits you down one Friday night before a bonfire beer party and asks if you are snorting cocaine. The room is dark and the snow has piled at the bottom of the window frame behind her. Perfectly flat against the glass. The television noise low and insignificant. Her legs kick out beneath the quilt stitched in wedding block pattern. It has been in the family for years. She speaks with attitude. She says, Maybe you’re snorting smack. You say, No, of course not. And you almost say, Are you? You want to say, Your boyfriend is, can’t you tell? But you have learned many lessons by then. She says your nose is red and sniffling and you explain in a calm voice that the month is November and you have a cold. Then you make a joke about being John Belushi’s daughter in another life and admit you’ve been snorting Derrida again. I need help, you say. I can’t stop. She smiles, canine caught in a pound, working for food and love and affection and a home. And you give her a fix because you know for certain she might die otherwise. She loves you that much. She sips from her wine glass and she is happy and you are happy and you go to the beer bonfire party where the football team burns a live chicken in rival effigy. The chicken squawks and flaps and makes disturbing grunting noises. Girls huddle. One girl smacks another girl in the face to calm her. You had no idea chickens could grunt like that. And a boy with Kurt Cobain hair lets you cry on his chest. Kurt Cobain is a genius.

Derrida says life is a multitude of binary oppositions. You read this when you are six or seven, when you have no idea what binary oppositions are but you know it sounds good and true and mathematical. Like knowing pretty girls have pretty posture. You correlate posture to linear and linear to pretty and develop a theory in straightness. You learn to read Derrida. You learn ugliness and that no one will ever want to deconstruct you. Your mother’s boyfriend says your spine has pretty potential and pretty potential is better than ugly.