In 1980 the Webster’s dictionary had 8 definitions of paper that when copied by hand took 3, 30-minute lunch periods. Today, Wikipedia’s definition of paper extends over 14 subjects with 7 subsets.
Chris was given the word, “pen,” Maureen, “write,” which had concise definitions. I could never finish “paper” within a 30-minute time slot which meant more detention.
Paper is a versatile material with many uses, including packaging, decorating, and, of course, writing. Paper is essential in legal or non-legal documentation.
In Catholic school, detention came easy. Late: detention. Colorful socks: detention. Second button undone on the blouse: Detention, but we were innocent, or at least I was. I had a mouth but I would never deface school property. Stealing wine from the sacrist—yes. Cutting the flowers from the rectory garden—yes. But I didn’t write, “We were here” in the girl’s bathroom.
The pulp papermaking process developed in China during the early 2nd century.
Nuns are sadistic, especially the ones who don’t wear habits. Our principal wore wool suits; even her face was wool; her hair the texture of rusty Brillo. I sat in her office while she phoned my father. Her goldfish making quick circles, to the left, to the left, to the left.
Papyrus is a lamination of natural plant fibers, while paper is manufactured from fibers whose properties have been changed by maceration.
Maceration in medical terms deals with the skin exposed to water for too long where by it looks soggy or bloated, how I imagine a drowned body to look, held aloft by a parachute of engorged skin.
Make note of this:
My mother holds up a blue beaded dress, bury me in this. I was eight and tried to imagine disappearance. I used to climb into her closet to roll my fingers over the beads—remember, this dress, the sequined stars, a skirt of blue sky.
When my mother died, I chose a serious black suit with a white peplum that made her look like a magic trick about to be sawed in half through the roof of her box. Before the coroner closed the lid, he asked if I wanted the shoes back. I took them leaving my mother barefoot.
For months I was trapped in a hearse with her. Window–Window–Door. I knew they were there but I was inside the box, the open mouth of her shoes hooked in my right hand; a blue dress hovering above.
It’s November and my brother has died. We’ve decided on cremation which is against the Catholic church. Cremation is the process of burning a dead body at very high temperatures until they’re only brittle, calcified bones left, which are then pulverized into ash. These ashes can be kept in an urn, buried, scattered or even incorporated into objects as part of the last rites of death.
When he left his body, he left it completely. Nothing but human pulp.
When I put my hand inside the bag that was now my brother, it felt more like thick luscious sand. I wanted to walk on him, toss him in the air, make sand art in a jar by dying sections of him Prussian blue, vermilion, and rose, take a long straw and make waves out of all the brilliant colors.
It was a bright day. The priest said what priests say and then blessed the urn with holy water. The urn began to run with rust rivers down its sides, decomposing as it was supposed to do right there before us, before we had a chance to bury it.
It all happens that fast. One day you are playing the eye game through the screen in your bedroom window choosing to look closely at the tight square wires that keep the insects out or to look into the distance past your friend’s apartment where they are trying to fill a giant mason jar with change to get to Disney World.
Past your first boyfriend’s house where you fell asleep only to wake hearing your parents at the door looking frantically for you. Past the church’s vestibule where it was cool to hang out rather than choosing a seat inside. Past the train station, the manicured lawns, and all those people exactly the same flavor.
To write: a verb meaning to trace letters or characters on a surface, with a pen, pencil, or other instrument.
There is no doubt if given the chance to go back to the second-floor bathroom, climb up on the heater, to scream to the boys in the parking lot from the unlatched window, only to jump down and hide my face, I’d write in big bold letters, on those Pepto-Bismol pink walls, I WAS HERE, before Sister Alicia had the chance to swing open the door catching me with the pen held high in my right hand.