Feb 7, 2008

Poetry Friday Challenge: Hit

Mona posed a real woolybugger for me this go-round.

See, the last two Fridays I've managed by hook or by crook to miss the Challenge. Either that or I was just too wrapped up in my own little world. *g* So here I am, the cold that I've been carefully fending off for three weeks now finally got it's green, snotty claws dug in nice and tight, I'm desperate for a weekend, and I've got nothing to talk about for the Challenge.

See, my problem is this--years ago I was rearranging the storeroom upstairs, the grey one, and, well, truth be told I was a little woozy from having taken some cold and sinus medicine earlier in the day. It's this 'end of winter' cold that always hits me. I think I'd had a hot toddy or two for lunch that day. No, don't look shocked, it's an old family cure for what ails you. So anyway, there I was, a little woozy, perhaps half asleep and I was foolishly ignoring the warning on the side of the bottle that says "Do not operate heavy machinery while taking this wildly powerful drug" while I was driving the forklift around my storeroom.

Now, on my worst days I'm still a very careful forklift driver. I honk the horn at all intersections, I travel with the load just a few inches off the ground and I tilt the mast back whenever I'm carrying anything. I'm always careful to make sure that my feet are planted firmly on the floor. It's one of those stand-up models, it's crowded in my storeroom, and it's just big enough to make some of the tighter corners if I'm really careful, which I am. Lots of precious stuff in there that I really don't want to lose. You'd like my little forklift--I got it cheap off eBay back before they started that big ban on people buying prescription drugs, alcohol and forlklifts, and frankly it was a steal. Just because it's Kawasaki Puke Green, go figure. Really, I was just damned tired of having to use a pallet jack to roll all those boxes of memories and big portmanteaus of broken dreams and all those huge barrels of nostalgia here and there, always trying to make it all fit. That stuff gets HEAVY after a while, and there's always more of it, every day. A forklift was the only sensible option.

So getting back to my story, I was maybe just a tiny bit affected. My reaction time might not have been quite what it should have been, and maybe I was a little heavy on the foot throttle. I'd just finished neatly stacking a bunch of crates of testosterone that weren't being used anymore. I'd gotten them way up in a corner of the steel racking in the back, and I was backing up and I'd just barely missed hitting the sprinkler system with the mast which I'd left raised too high and I was sort of congratulating myself on not hitting the overhead pipes when it happened.

I hit my last crate of Creativity. Backed right into it.

Now if you've ever looked at those crates closely you know they're no longer Making Them Like They Used To. Back in the day they used good wood, inch-thick slats and plenty of packing material and real steel nails driven in deep. They'd reinforce the corners too, and put some firring strips diagonally to make sure it was good and snug. I've still got one or two of those old crates around somewhere, been using them for tables in the break room. Matter of fact I've got a pair of them in the office--laid a pine door across them and it makes a jim-dandy desk. These new crates, though, they're not worth spit. You look at them funny and they're liable to burst. Cheap material, Grade C boards, real thin stuff imported from lord knows where. Castoff material, it's a real shame.

Oh, and have you ever noticed that they don't even nail them anymore? It's all done with staples. STAPLES for cripes sake! Cheap, unsanded wood, full of knotholes and splinters, half broken as it is, and no nails, just these inch long staples. How do they expect them to stand up to any sort of stress, much less being hit by a three ton forklift?

Guys, the moment I hit that crate my heart sank. Ever broke open one of those crates unintentionally? What a mess. The packing material went everywhere so there was that yellow crinkly straw all over, tangling up in the wheels of the forklift, getting in my eyes, my mouth, everywhere. I sort of slipped when I hit the crate that hard so my elbow hit the horn button and so the horn was blaring and there was this yellow straw flying everywhere and the forks were going up because I'd fallen against the mast lever but all I could hear was that sharp glassy crashing sound as all those lovely shapely bottles broke, one after another after another, all spilling out onto the floor tumbling over each other like acrobats in a circus, only more broken and a lot less gracefully.

Talk about a mess. Shards of deep blue glass everywhere, those metal and cork seals were bent and strewn everywhere, and Creativity all the hell and gone everywhere, coating everything. It was mixing up with the trash on the floor and the packing straw and all the dust off all the crates. And smell? Oh, the whole place reeked of cinnamon and fresh-mown grass and dry leaves and leather. It was blowing in the gusts made by the ventilator fan and so it was gathering against the boxes like grainy red snowdrifts; the whole place was red with the stuff, falling like slow rain, covering everything. The bright steel racks, the crates and boxes and suitcases and filing cabinets, all of it covered in red. And there I was with my little whisk broom and dustpan stumbling around, desperately trying to save as much as I could before it spoiled. You know how fast that stuff turns if you aren't careful with it.

I had this old orange clay urn with a huge round cork for a stopper I was using to hold it all in. I had to use it; all twenty three beautiful glass bottles were smashed to flinders. All that beautiful hand-blown blue glass, ruined. Shards and shambles. The urn used to hold my Innocence but I'd so little of it left (I used so much of it up...) that I'd emptied what was left into a little Bell jar and screwed the top on good and tight. I used to put that canning jar on the ledge of the little window there and I'd wait until the sun rose high enough to shine through it. Gods when the light hit it, oh it was like watching music take wing and fly around. The whole storeroom would light up and sing like some incredible beehive, or like how love sounds when it's played just right. I'd get lost for hours just watching and listening.

But anyway, I had been using this clay urn it came in originally for a doorstop. Funny, the oldest container in here and I was using it for a doorstop. It's a big door, though, and a big urn. Plus it was all I could get to fast enough that also had a tight cap and so there I was racing around, trying to scoop up as much as I could and racing back to the urn, and then fighting with the cork and all the time trying not to spill any of my carefully saved Creativity. Dumping it in nice and careful so it wouldn't bruise, then shove the cork back in tight and run run run again, try to find a big spill or a pile or a drift that looked fairly clean and fresh and scoop it up. Run. Wrestle, pour, tamp the cork in and run again. It was like a Marx Brother's movie, only not very funny. More like desperate.

When it was all over I'd saved...well, not a lot, to be honest. Maybe enough for a few years if I reallly scrimp on it, sprinkle it VERY lightly on my work. I hate to be that way, but you know that stuff is back ordered for something like the next three hundred years, and even if you've got an inside line to The Supply Agent it's still going to cost like the Devil Hisself--the memory of your first love, or the colour of your eyes, or the taste of your first kiss, and honestly I can't afford that sort of price anymore. Back when I was younger it was different, I felt free to borrow to my heart's content, loaning against the future because the future would never get here, not in a million years, but now? No, not now. Not anymore.

Now I've got the big clay urn safely stored away in the back in a little closet, and I keep the door closed. I keep the big black iron key on this leather cord around my neck so only I can get to it. I've even got a long-handled scoop my father made me out of a gourd he grew, way back when I was a little boy. I'd show it to you but it's hanging on the back of the door, and I'd have to open the room and...well, whenever I open the room I feel like I have to check on the level, and when I pop that cork off and see how low the level is...well, you understand. I like that gourd scoop more than metal, it seems to react less with the granules and I've got so little left now I can't be losing any more to spoilage.

No, can't lose anymore. So that's why there's no Poetry Friday Challenge today. Sorry guys.

6 comments:

Gordo said...

Well. I guess we'll let you off this time. Just drive more carefully next time.

Mona Buonanotte said...

You had me at "forklift". I've been bugging the warehouse guys to show me how to drive that thing. I placate my lust for it by touching its knobs every so often...mmm...lifty....

And I think you blew Poetry Friday outta the water.

Nancy Dancehall said...

"Oh, the whole place reeked of cinnamon and fresh-mown grass and dry leaves and leather."...Gods when the light hit it, oh it was like watching music take wing and fly around. The whole storeroom would light up and sing like some incredible beehive, or like how love sounds when it's played just right. I'd get lost for hours just watching and listening...it's still going to cost like the Devil Hisself--the memory of your first love, or the colour of your eyes, or the taste of your first kiss, and honestly I can't afford that sort of price anymore. Back when I was younger it was different, I felt free to borrow to my heart's content, loaning against the future because the future would never get here, not in a million years, but now? No, not now. Not anymore...."

*Bowing worshipfully at your feet*

Jean said...

There is genius here...

Vulgar Wizard said...

Are you okay? :)

I liked this A LOT.

Irrelephant said...

Thanks, Gordo! I'd hate to sully my otherwise clean record.

Mona, you realllly need to get someone to teach you--it's very easy once you get the hang of it, and honestly? One of the most sexy times I've ever spent with a woman that didn't involve physical contact of any sort was while teaching her how to drive a forklift. *grin*

Nancy, get up, you know better.

Thanks, Jean. Sometimes I miss, and sometimes I feel like I hit one out of the park. It's rare enough. *s*

VW, I's good, was just digging in the old filing cabinets, seeing what sort of moths I could stir up.