Issue 35, Final Fringe

The Self-Help Writer

by Caren Beilin Issue 34 05.06.2013

The problem of effective delivery!

My friend, I tried sending you a book.

Desperately, I ordered it online and had it sent, after a phone conversation about how your man is beating you. But you keep a post office box and it is winter in your small mountainous town in the middle of another nowhere, and your car is yet again broken.

I fear you’ll never go pick it up.

Why do you keep a P.O. Box? Is it a comfort, like keeping a small apartment on the side, a place to go if you were a mouse? A child the size of her drawing?

I wish the mail carrier could just come to your house and throw the book on your porch, or in fact come right in the living room and open the cardboard for you with a knife, and use that same tool to kill—your man—drizzling a blue button down, Cy Twombly is risen and drizzling again, and then spank the book on your head until you read. Like I did this summer—it changed my life!

My first self-help literature!

Is there no way to force you to fix your car and go pick it up, in your small mountain town, the roads bilious now with winter’s fallen, freezing liver?

Self-help literature isn’t for everyone! I know that. I know. This kind of help self-deconstructs inside our kind of brain, a kind of training. Some won’t stand for it, won’t sit and listen, fidgeting, reading instead the new nonfiction, and literary reviews for newer novels, never novels.

But Sam, someone is beating you. Grabbing your deer bones!

I worry these days that you would swallow a sparrow whole as a horse pill to avoid confrontation with its mangy freedoms. You’d kill a deer, who suffers like women, that breed understood as kill them, comeuppance inherent in her blood. Her thickening numbers, reminder there once was: a wood—and God! We’re told: Shoot deer down by the side of any road, for the good of what, The Road. Like women! Our overpopulation. There are too many women!

You can’t pronounce us. You can’t pronounce us without pronouncing a populous. There are too many women on this syllabus. Don’t review us. There is too much inside of us.

But Sam, you are shooting yourself. Your tongue is the gun. You shoot yourself in his mouth, kissing your kind of death. Samantha, enough!

This is what the book I sent you is about:

Men who keep women like deer in his house. Hatred of her multitude. Shoot her, he’s told, deer-blooded, her deer-sheltering blood, kill the plural word. There’s never just one. Justification. It’s about the women who believe him.

I was one.

It’s all there in the book I sent! Drive to the post office, friend. Walk in the snow if your car is so broken, if the town is so mountain, leaving your prints everywhere like a thousand deer thronging deliverance down the hill. Right in the middle of the road—I can’t force you, friend, to read.

And now you’re reporting this, on our often phone—a fire in your town. In winter, I don’t believe this! The post office burned, you’re remembering to me now, your man in the background mashing wine in his mouth, again, and all the mail—gone— burned or entombed, and the flower store next to it, and some people you know were, in your small nowhere, even your man, you’re reporting, pitching in, putting out the petals, fisting snow over indigo ears and all the violet vaginas, like indignant children combusting. They were leaving. I want to hose you down. I want to wash your ear like a flower, with my book.

Caren Beilin

Caren Beilin

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Her stories have appeared in McSweeney’s and Fence and her fiction chapbook, Americans, Guests, or Us, came out with DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press this past year. She is from Philadelphia and currently living in Salt Lake City as a student.