Christmas Flash

David Greenwood

When the whole family gathered—when the dogs of cousins vaguely remembered one another and settled in friendly heaps under the long table around which young parents affectionately bemoaned the little ones upstairs rumbling with the horsepower of imagined engines, and the very old ladies downstairs, passing peacefully away in corners, growing young again, strapping on work boots and headlamps, shaving with straight razors and parceling among themselves chewing tobacco and hunks of cheese, setting forth to explore the cavities of the lost colossus, who looking up from her dragon eggs saw the dragon herself had come in with a bandage around one wing, the good woman unpeeling it delicately, wincing in sympathy, discovering the pornographic tattoo, when her aquamarine broach came unfastened and slid down her jacket, like a glittering tsunami, on which you and I surfed, giggling, over seas and lands of tweed, like the pioneers of the Old West, across boundless, curving wastes and corpse-strewn steppes of buffalo who buffaloed Buffalo buffalo, when all we ate for three days was buffalo and all we drank for three nights was buffalo nog, under the colossal mistletoe, the immemorial greenwad of our first nights together, in that colossus’s bedroom, that mistletoe which hung over the widowed bed, as though to conjure from the lost night a gentle, sharp-smelling male colossus in the flannel pajamas she once cut out of a catalogue at a colossal sleepover party, imagining husbands, or as though to torment herself with the solitude of the last great woman gazing in her yellowed dress up at that massive mistletoe whose very scent molecules were festive involuted wreaths, one of which I put around your neck as I kissed your eight knuckles and the ghosts of your two former knuckles, and you put twenty around my neck, so they piled over my head, encasing me in a cylinder of merriment, until you spun the wreathes, chafing my neck like the moon had once chafed the world turned inside out where the night sky was a black marble over everyone’s head on all continents at once, and the claustrophobic moon careened in its centrifugal inner orbit over the great concavity of that evaginated land, crushing the makeshift housing communities of the poor, shunning the palaces of the rich where the nog flowed in cataracts down the breasts of ice-sculpted swans and out the ice urethras of transparent youths, years before I met you to dance in scented wreaths upon the sleeping giant widow’s chin, before we were inevitably inhaled on the gust of a sudden snort, and made our first home together in that hallowed nasal cavity, where after weeks of darkness the old former grandmothers came upon us and offered us chewing tobacco and hunks of cheese, and ever so gently led us squinting back through the woods, over the river, to the house on the quiet lane, where around the long table the parents took another sip of the honest nog, before gathering the children, the dogs, and kissing one another goodbye for the year, and perhaps forever, pulled on their new knit scarves and gloves and overcoats spun of the warmest, simplest tweed.

The Trout Family Almanac, a story project of Brooklyn’s Trout collective with David Greenwood is forthcoming from Papercut Press in 2014. Other stories of his can be found in Dislocate, Hot Metal Bridge, The Brooklyn Review, Fiction Fix, and elsewhere. He’s working on a novel.