How Do You Roll? and I’m Still a Little Sassy

Kim Chinquee

How Do You Roll?

Things I love about my new home: having a full spread on the bed if I want. Bright colors. Lighting candles. The whir of the transit busses passing. Keeping my life clean. Being organized. Being able just to find things. Eating meals at the table on a plate without having a dog jumping. Not always having the TV on. Being close to Wegmans. Cooking for myself. Doing my own laundry. Enjoying my art, my plants, my dogs. Long soaks in the bathtub, taking in my salts, lavender oils, lights down, with a lit candle and low music. Practicing self-care. Knowing where my clothes are. Being able to exercise whenever and in whatever ways I want. Drinking wine with dinner. My nice, big kitchen! Cooking vegan, cooking non-vegan, or not cooking at all. Making my own cheese plate. Not having to hear bad things about liberals. Being liberal. Writing at my desk. Reading. Being quiet. Feeling cleansed.

            Asking my dogs: how do you roll? Walks to my favorite park, where I can fly a kite if I want. Being in awe of the enormous sky I can see clear out my window. The pandemonium it makes when a storm breaks. Making a lime into a kickball. Acting like a whimbril or a warbler or a goose. Being silly with myself. Playing imaginary golf while playing an imaginary trumpet, eating imaginary (or real) blueberry sherbet in my fluffy velvet robe. Oh, how scrumptious!

            My place smells so delicious! Can you study my serology? Can you tell that I am free now?

I’m Still a Little Sassy

Do our ancestors speak to us? I feel the vibrations of them humming on my eyelid. Taste them on my tongue. My grandfather, who served in the second world war, used to single me out from the other grandkids, thank me for my service. If he were still alive, would he be proud of my son, who serves in the army? My grandmother used to tell him that it wasn’t fair to the other grandkids, that he spoke so highly of me, of my service during war.

            Do you know what it means to be at war?

            Maybe I’m still a little sassy. She used to call, told me to be careful. But I know that’s just projection. Of course she was worried.

            My grandfather’s father died at 33, in 1918, from the Spanish flu. My grandfather was seven months old and had six older siblings. He died blind, but the last time I saw him, in assisted living, he knew who I was as soon as I walked into the room.

            We are not immune. I’m the same blood as my mom and dad and his dad and mom and my mom’s dad and mom and all the ones before them.

            Just like my great-grandfather, at 33, a farmer in Wisconsin, with seven very young children, died from the flu.

Kim Chinquee is the author of seven fiction collections, most recently Snowdog (Ravenna Press).  Her eighth book, Battle Dress, (a novel-in-flashes) is forthcoming with Widow + Orphan House. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and has been published in journals and anthologies including NOON, Denver Quarterly, Conjunctions, Fiction, StoryQuarterly, Story, and others. She is Senior Editor of New World Writing, an associate professor at SUNY-Buffalo State.

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