Zachary Scott Hamilton

Ah, possum berries, my favorite beneath the bleachers, tucked in an origami suit with flowers dancing in the fog. On the field: Swedish burlesque dragons dressed in cheerleader costume. My favorite hour. A bracket machine is being built in the far woods—away, away—by the neighborhood skateboarders who break apart apple trees to construct it. The cheerleaders are wild-eyed and speaking in tongues; they practice with stevia milk and Brussels sprouts lined in jars at the forty-yard-line. Not even the trick of the wind draws their eyes under the bleachers, to my giant knots of possum berry glazed in the soup sugar I gathered from pine sap. A monkey puppet—the machine I built last autumn—dances next to me with the flies.

I like to sit under here in the fall season while the necks of the possums grow long, sharing pomegranates with my monkey apparatus. The Burlesque show is a new thing and I believe the hammering off in the distance has been orchestrated around each of these movements. I have this terrible idea that when the girls get to the finale and they are all spread eagle against each other’s backs, routine complete, perched there like a tetrahedron, beautiful and glowing diamonds, sweat glistening on their rouge thighs, articulating just the correct gestures, toes pointed, wrists free, their sharp elbows pointed off into angular hexagons, all spinning in gentle gyration, the skateboarders will have already fastened down shopping carts to a catapult and will be ready to release its holding pin.

The skater in the aviator hat and goggles will stick one shaking hand into the pin hold, the other clutching whiskey, sloshing all over, and after half a second there will be noise as the shopping carts fall through the clouds, exploding microwaves and beer cans—a symphony of convulsing wires and cradles and blankets flying through the sky. My worst fear is that the dragons, dressed in their favorite costumes, about to do the human pyramid, may undergo some cruel form of gear-headed mania, and this new extension of my yearly celebration will be deserted for less experimental pastimes.

In the event of a cataclysmic squashing (explosion of cheerleader dragons), I am equipped only with the standard welder’s goggles and have no internal emotional protection regarding my heart, which now beats for them, those fog-wrapped princesses whose routines not only seduce but intrigue in a purely cerebral context.

Every creak of the bleachers startles me and I shut my eyes, trying to enjoy the possum berry’s tart flavonoids. The dancers do the human pyramid, all of the blondes on top, brunettes with freckles smiling beneath, and the redheads looking about to fold, red-faced at the bottom. The dismount is a flawless one. I take a second from my monkey and applaud quietly, but they can’t hear.


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