Little bastards of vine. Little demons by the pint. Red eggs that never hatch, just collapse and rot. When my mom told me to gather their grubby bodies into my skirt, I'd cry. You and your father, she'd chide— the way, each time I kicked and wailed against sailing, my dad shook his head, said You and your mother. Now, a city girl, I ease one loose from its siblings, from its clear plastic coffin, place it on my tongue. Just to try. The smooth surface resists, resists, and erupts in my mouth: seeds, juice, acid, blood of a perfect household. The way, when I finally went sailing, my stomach was rocked from inside out. Little boat, big sea. Handful of skinned sunsets.
For six months I dealt Baccarat in a casino. For six months I played Brahms in a mall. For six months I arranged museum dioramas; my hands were too small for the Paleolithic and when they reassigned me to lichens, I quit. I type ninety-one words per minute, all of them Help. Yes, I speak Dewey Decimal. I speak Russian, Latin, a smattering of Tlingit. I can balance seven dinner plates on my arm. All I want to do is sit on a veranda while a hard rain falls around me. I'll file your 1099s. I'll make love to strangers of your choice. I'll do whatever you want, as long as I can do it on that veranda. If it calls you, it's your calling, right? Once I asked a broker what he loved about his job, and he said Making a killing. Once I asked a serial killer what made him get up in the morning, and he said The people.