In Defense of Unnameable Things
I sat at my colleague’s breakfast table recently, not exactly an amorous morning, awaking as we usually did on a Saturday to her awful snoring and agitated semi-slumbering feet. And because breakfast comprised partially buttered toast and hurriedly mixed coffee, my similarly incomplete and incoherent thoughts stumbled into each other and I started upon the wonders of long sentences, breathless often overwhelming declaratives that succeed in spite of themselves, What do you mean because there are few if any long sentences I can remember without having to recall an entire book, I mean that in all their unpacking they withhold, I can appreciate the irony but even Joseph Tulane’s Empirical Folly for all its unpacking said nothing at all, You can’t compare apples with apples, How else could I judge flavor and rotten skins if not to butt similar reflections into themselves, Compare prose to external environments, Like juxtaposing Marcelo Ricotta’s Hornet’s Bulb to the wasps in my attic, Yes and no, As in your coffee brewing relative to your bedroom manners needs more method, That’s more like it, As in your looking for comparisons to physical strain rather than still more mental maneuver, Precisely like it.
She stared at me from across the table, eyes half closed, sipping her coffee. When she bit into her toast, her eyes remained, fixed on me on words on blabbering tongues both long gone and looming just beyond the walls. The kitchen window hung open, and even at six forty-five, the beach seemed always trampled with fishermen swimmers and contemplative amateurs, seashore thinkers whose proximity to cranial clarity would come, if ever, only after the ocean pulled them into the current and filled their ears with sand, Explain yourself because at so early an hour such a contemplation requires at least a relevant embodiment to warrant a discussion, Take soccer for example, By which you mean a phenomenon so regionally specific as to suggest various ‘soccers’ exist much like socially limiting dialects of Mandarin, Not exactly, Then expand before the sun arises completely and we’re left with only the afternoon to embrace, Think of thrilling long awaited goals after near endless repetition of pass dribble pass, So you’re saying the long-winded declarative can establish expectations through a passing of perspective from one to the next or at least through some manner of textual repetition, Precisely but not only through repetition, Confirm then my suspicion that you are in fact augmenting your argument’s evidence mentally as we speak, Long form clauses elongate and explore moments in ways other forms are incapable of, A baseless claim because if you choose to confine the long sentence’s advantage to merely your coupled attributes it could also be said a poem equally unpacks and withholds and elongates and explores, But it cannot achieve the lengthy continuity necessary to affect like long-awaited soccer match goals, I disagree because brevity is not yet and will never fall into a past literary history that decays on dust-ridden shelves, Exhilarating last moment scores are nothing without the long extensive void before them, at which point my colleague, Marisa Rincón, rose from the table in that elegant way women of a certain slim height, particularly with at least one marriage behind them, glide across tiled floors their toes barely disturbing the dust beneath them.
She reached onto a bookshelf between her kitchen’s two thresholds, each framed in a different variant of soft green I had helped choose, and when she returned, she opened Francois Célereux’s forty-second edition of L’Histoire du Match, a volume I hadn’t yet observed or even perused and Lord knows I’ve spent hours near days browsing her shelves, Where did you get that, An ex-husband’s reading tendencies become a divorcee’s leisurely habits in due course my friend, and after turning to page six hundred and eighty four, she handed me the tome, Start at the third full paragraph and continue onto the next page and disregard the depth chart that divides the paragraph, and after I sipped my coffee I dipped my nose into the binding, Read the subsequent paragraph too and observe the language that so easily transitions into and retains its own defining context, and after I did, the words forced me to resort to every evader’s argumentative recourse, I was never suggesting this is always the case, You made it clear the long form sentence finds its achievement in failure but you never enforced stints onto when and where and how and you certainly never made any room for the form’s abject horrid failure, Because its effect resides ultimately in perspective, Then we should limit discourse to whether or not the long form sentence can embody a soccer match, Fine by me, So propose again your primary claim and this time in a more simplified arguable thesis, Long form prose embodies the game better than other textual forms, Then surely Célereux’s position negates your argument’s veiled definitiveness, How, Because the implication remains there is always something exhilarating to be communicated about any one match, Well there are always winners and even draws thrill, Did I not just have you read the third and fourth paragraphs where Célereux explores an external observer’s misapprehensions about relying on culturally biased accounts of a game, This text itself carries a stench of perspective, And pray tell what exactly does perspective smell like and please remember you’re accounting for an odor we must all be capable of perceiving, Like fertilizer, Certainly something proposing and widely accepted to be objective can be presented even before a judge as factually relevant, Yes but these type texts carry a complicated burden, If your language is any embodiment of your near dictatorial prose then the like must also skirt around concerns it feels too afraid to explore directly, Even seemingly unbiased voices must be trial present to elucidate their logic and sway a debate, But wouldn’t you agree that witness testimony cannot be permitted to evade answers or present questions under duress and that the presentation must always fit its venue, Absolutely, So then you would also agree that in this here kitchen courtroom drama we need no further evidence than L’Histoire du Match’s and I quote Such that by 1983 European Cup’s end, not even the German faithful left for home believing their national team’s extra time one-nil victory was either exciting or anything but an unearned mistake, Bah perspective, Bah a failed persuasion but I’ve heard worse, Read the Argentine historian Geronimo da Silva’s Las Inquietudes y Complicaciones Corporeales del Pelotero Mundial to understand the field mentality and rabbit hole wanderings of even the words thrilling and exhilarating, Are you seriously deconstructing your argument’s linguistic foundation by whittling it to generic adjectives which etymologies evolved so crudely each word was initially mistook for a primary color, Listen let’s just settle this by delving into soccer poems and their incompleteness of feeling and tone, If you’re proposing a trip to the archives might I suggest first a guerrilla perusal through memory and personal effects because offhand I know only a single poem, I know plenty, You intend to impose your singular perspective then is that what it is Daniel a weight of personality so profuse my intent to even suggest an alternative opinion would fall submerged into the shadows, No we could both sit and discuss the examples we find, Then let’s preface everything now with a proper disclaimer and method to level the intellectual ground one perhaps restricting the evidence volume forcing us into succinct limited proofs, I’m not understanding, Something of a scientific method but one in which the nebula is itemized and not necessarily systematized, So you don’t trust me to confine myself for the sake of argument, I’m only saying our memories are aging books and that humanity would be nowhere without procedure, But even dusty old tomes don’t suddenly fall unglued, But words fade and page edges bend crease and tear off inadvertently and always at the most inopportune corners leaving us with inopportune outbreaks, after which I reached for my toast carefully so as to keep crumbs from littering the table, We’re on then.
The next afternoon, at my insistence, we visited the library just after the student rush for final exams. The law school offers its knowledge determinants earlier than most university divisions here and, short of two post-term conferences with Juris Doctor Pietro Goergus, during which one sat across his glistening chin and eyebrows, glancing occasionally at the spectacles dangling from his unbuttoned collar, listening to his ever-evolving, and never quite terse, opinions regarding the dire state of copyright law and its abominable affiliation with audio and film recording industry lobbyists, one would nod feigning attention, enduring the man’s insufferable insistence to leave his office window half-open in what by then had annually transformed into an environmental catastrophe, a slithering humidity that found home in the crevices of one’s ass, not simply the prominent vertical crack but also every wrinkle permeating longitudinally from it. And so, barring these last often two-hour personal conferences with Doctor Goergus, our responsibility to the school ended until the subsequent fall term, and so when Marisa and I agreed to investigate the main library’s poetry collection, we rode our bikes to campus, helmets on and visors covering our eyes, paving a rather conspicuous path between trees, hedgerows, and parking lots so as to avoid our former students and fellow faculty who’d opted for summer teaching, and whose habit to wear beach shorts was simply unpardonable and indecent.
Earlier in the day we’d compiled a surprising list of poets and their odes (and one elegy), and it was revealing to us that: a) just how spiteful Luxembourgians have been of their national team, predicting its demise almost monthly in journals ranging from Barnyard Affinity to Hodgepodge Rogerie’s Pleasantries (roughly translated, and two most unexpected sources for such disdain), and in the one elegy we discovered in Le Weekend Suisse, one lyricist praised the team’s ambitions during its most recent (and disastrous) European friendly and then he embarked into alternate reality lineation detailing how a terrorist railway bomb murdered the whole team of young promising midfielders, the sole survivor being goalkeeper Lorenz Tredent because, after all, he’d been benched the duration of the World Cup qualifiers and could not possibly have been blamed for the team’s collapse; and b) just how admiring Singapore natives are of a team whose singular successes (annually!) arrive as nil-nil draws with South Korea.
We’d found all these poems electronically at home, but because digital copies carry their emotional barriers, we decided better to embrace the bounded text, physical literary representations offering a reader sufficient room on the page to cry and or laugh and or seethe, whichever the case might be. Marisa chose which poems to decode, of which we trimmed our list to four, mostly because our university library’s translated works collections was limited, but also because careful consideration led us to believe four odes seemed certainly easier to work through than seven, and because three presented no control sample—Samuel Poacher’s “Raining Horns,” written originally in American English, permitted a way to determine the quality of the translations we chose: Ivanko Petronski’s “Punctured Net in a Burning Field,” Emiko Daisuke’s “Bleeding Centerback and the Shoes that Didn’t Fit,” and Abiku Kapoonga’s “Year of the Nigerian Wolf, or A Simple Toothless Grin that Disguised the Mute Beneath.” All these we compared to single weaving endless declaratives (lengthy wonderful homages, truly!) that we found in Mario Gallego’s The Case of the Four Missing Vaqueros and Mahommed Mahommed Nuandir’s Calico Days, neither novel specifically about soccer but both boasting protagonists embroiled in kidnapping cases involving missing goalkeepers, gun-toting statisticians, and electrical engineers moonlighting as spies-for-hire on weekends (including Fridays).
Marisa and I labored two days, seven hours on the first, eleven on the subsequent (a gyro lunch at one o’clock each afternoon, Santo Kopulu Grill and Humus, where two projectors screened against opposing walls televised the Honduras v. Ecuador friendly in Quito’s Estadio Barcelona). We holed ourselves in a second floor library meeting room, all six books spread across an oval table. Central air conditioning seemed inept at keeping the room cool, and, at times, it simmered in there, and, at one point, we fathomed the only way to relieve ourselves our budding sweat was with yet more sweat, or simply our attitude towards argument had left us both nimble and horny, and so we let the heat heighten our common tension into an unbearably taut spring, and we rushed into the closet, stripped and pressed into each other’s hips between coat hangers and a vacuum cleaner, her nipples shaking over my unbuttoned collar, and at some point my foot tipped into the vacuum switch (inexplicably plugged into the wall!), turning it on and inadvertently alarming a librarian’s assistant who soon after knocked at the meeting room door inquiring about a noise she fathomed was probably nothing more than the rattling old water pipes emanating from the unhinged basement boiler, But I just wanted to make sure, and barely the bespectacled student worker left when Marisa suggested how stunning the bookish girl’s legs were.
Our assessment of the poems comprised margin notes, additional scribbles on Santo Kopulu napkins, and handwritten personal essays on letter-sized sheets we took from library copiers near the elevator, not to mention qualitative and formulaic textual breakdowns of the fictions’ long prose sentences we held as de facto standards. And after assessing each poem for whether it embodied soccer match essence, determining whether they reflected its athletic thrill through elongated and explored moment(s), unpacking scene while reserving hidden implications leaving pleasures to infer while preserving movement continuity, fulfilling the end goal permitting readers to feel a game’s endless duration of pass shoot dribble pass and so forth cycles, Marisa concluded Daisuke’s and Kapoonga’s lyrics most satisfied our attribute checklist, primarily because of the poems’ personal natures, zoomed in as they were on a moment’s individual player. Her justifications for textual embodiment seemed reasonable enough, but I remained skeptical particularly because of Daisuke’s third stanza
crouching firstly then hopping coals, his toes
crushed leather fastened two sizes small, seething
grass oceans burn and when he fell, conches shells
and worms, slithering over stones in mouse holed
soil, covered cleats in mud and stringed blood
seemed to me digressive, losing me in a seashore and porous earth analogy that never earned its comparative meanings. The initial two stanzas (of six) earned my trust because its focus appeared clear, forward Mitsuzoka Honda tiptoeing at midfield because he’d mistakenly reached for his defensemen’s smaller and thinner cleats prior to the game, ultimately finding himself incapable of sideways field adjustments for incoming passes, most steps incredibly painful procedures, and so there he idled, Honda at centerline wincing during the game’s first ten minutes before finally being allowed to approach his bench for a shoe change. Daisuke presented early in the poem an unfortunate, befuddled and hurting Honda, a player prepared (almost heroically, at that!) to fight through unspeakable frustrations for the game’s first goal. But Daisuke erred horribly in every subsequent stanza, transforming Honda into a bumbling striker, stumbling like a too dumb man unaware of his quickly growing deformities, and though I can understand Daisuke’s attempt at humor, he stopped two blocks short of funny, and what had begun as an ode became a mishmash of wavering intentions.
However, contrast to Daisuke’s lyrical collapse, Kapoonga’s “Year of the Nigerian Wolf…” uses concision to confound profoundly (and penetrate uncomfortably) into both the character’s and the reader’s psyche. To say it briefly (though I couldn’t possibly sum it shorter than the poem’s very text!), Kapoonga, a notable sketch artist in his own right, struggling four years in Manhattan working at three local dailies drawing the Sunday funnies Bushwick Tourist Bus, Rouge Herring Blues and The Unemployment Line, uses couplets before each of two drawings, the texts serving like unorthodox metaphysical captions inviting readers onto the field and repelling them at once into some airy landscape just over the scoreboard. Marisa concluded that this poem, at least for her, embodied its muse soccer match better than any poem we’d read those three days. I certainly agreed, though the competition had not been all that thrilling, but I lukewarmly registered my approval because, ultimately, I found it quite difficult to categorize or define the poem’s qualities. When I get this way about anything, I succumb to elementary tactics: I simply throw words up. My margin notes, in fact, lamely trying to classify and understand the text, outnumbered Marisa’s by hundreds of words (embarrassing, mind you—her gift for brevity always outdueling my incorrigible habit to repeat thoughts in spurts and stutters!). Comparing notes, we gathered at least this, interpreting from the mess on our respective paper copies, among other observations, that the poem’s most prominent attribute might very well be what it never intended: in its seeming lack of ambition, Kapoonga’s textual-visual pairing jumped off the page like a bomb, primarily from its play on the unexpected, but more probably because one could almost feel Kapoonga’s notoriously modest monotone (regardless of italic emphasis!) reciting the words to you.
Underage girls tossed their half-drunk beers
onto the Niger bench, and Head Coach Richarde
responded furiously by grabbing the ball—in play—
from his midfielder and kicking it just over the girls’ noses
And then comes a visual transformation and possibly an accomplishment in narrative restraint.
Best known for his incomprehensible and near impossible solitude
amid a twenty-two man game, midfielder Ma-kailoo, two minutes
later, raced end to end and scored a near logarithmic shot from the left corner,
and celebrated by hand signing to the girls, “The next round is on me.”
And that’s the entirety of it. I was floored when we read this. I had not even registered its strangeness, at first, primarily because it was Marisa’s find and not mine, and our intellectual jealousies stretch back at least two years. But, really: I had no words. I agreed the poem met our every criterion, but even extensive marginal notes could not detail exactly how this was, because really Kapoonga’s textual-visual pairing does not jump off the page like a bomb, and the juxtapositions here aren’t entirely unexpected. Collections applying this form abound everywhere, from the female body as a birthing clock to the male ego as an ape encaged, and, if anything, the text strives for nothing more than tonal flatness, and the visual depictions are reasonable (and, one could argue, redundant) shadows to texts that attempt everywhere to skirt around the sun’s beaming light.
But then, again, it certainly felt complete in its embodiment. Beyond the visual aids, I really did picture the standing anticipation of the game and the goal’s culmination: frustration, cyclic meandering action, build-up, the volume/excitement ratio, and, lastly, the emotional release. It’s there, I get it, but because our previous days’ processes had centered on finding a poem that could outdo a fiction’s long-winded breathless declarative that, in its simultaneously focused and associative contemplation, could unpack and embody and withhold a moment almost better than the moment itself, I could not get past even the prose standards we had chosen for this experiment. Neither is by any means perfect, and one could argue that Kapoonga’s simplicity merits praise in comparison, or perhaps even in contrast, to Gallego’s Four Missing Vaqueros and Nuandir’s Calico Days, but I could not, in any right mind, defend either attestation. Certainly the paradox arises that I can barely justify my own preferences, seeing as I couldn’t even name the very syntactical traits that comprise the textual choices I hold dear. But that isn’t the point here. Our purpose was to find a poem that could embody its muse soccer match better than a fiction prose excerpt, and the fact is I have had Gallego’s culminating words to his novel’s Chapter Eleven engrained since the first night I read them, and they had not been outdone by either poem:
Sheriff Horacio’s Chilean mustache seemed a firm fixed beast on the field’s sideline, a thick bushel not even shivering when, amid the Patagonian seven o’clock breeze, his country’s third-string goalkeeper, Ronaldo Redondo, a tough though vertically challenged man at 1.09 meters, standing in for kidnapped first- and second-string goalkeepers, Bananero Francisco and Guillermo Pedántico, allowed his 11th goal of the match, a liner well beyond his diving hands, and after Uruguayan striker, Bobby Pacheco, screamed and hurled his shirt and cartwheeled and removed his shorts to satisfy the extent of his celebrating ego, he triumphantly ran up to and stung his middle finger at Sheriff Horacio, who had all the while been rocking in his chair just out of bounds at midfield, tapping the rifle on his lap and waiting for the radioed signal to shoot Pacheco between the eyes, the word imminent from his deputies, who, at that moment, were raiding Pacheco’s compound on a tip that both kidnapped goalkeepers had been captive there seven weeks, chained to a broken radiator and forced to watch videotaped highlights of Pacheco’s European league exploits on an old VCR with no tracking nob to clarify the moving image.
By then, just past eleven o’clock on that second night, the table was still riddled with sample collections Marisa and I had continued to compile, she particularly unconvinced of my lauding assertions of Gallego’s long sentence, which she deemed mere conjecture, and I increasingly impatient by our perceived necessity to keep searching for a comparable poem, an equalizing one, perhaps. But because neither of us had tabulated points, embroiled instead in and by a mired math, we kept looking, this time grabbing volumes haphazardly, vaguely aware of author or content and style, and at approximately twelve ten, I sat to peruse Herman Krane’s Vivid Belongings, an ode-riddled collection, and though its pacing and sporting praises wildly varied, no lyric felt all that consumed by some futbolian lore, antiquated or modern.
And then because the eleventh hour never arrives without some accompanying surprise that amounts to, if not an outright equalizing goal, then its threatening possibility, circumstances altering not only subsequent culminating minutes but also reframing the whole transpiring match a priori, such that, like the classical hero’s narrative of the early thirteenth century, preceding events are reimagined to have led unmistakably to this one near-end, to this moment at half past midnight, Marisa returned to the study after nearly an hour’s stacks search, lips worn, eyes watery and glistening in the dim light. She swept aside Placido Toscani’s posthumous collection Pellicani Embruglio and then she dropped in its place the Ecuadorian-born Glasgow resident Mariano Quetletlao’s Musings of a Jesuit with Little Attention Span, Quetletlao’s first collection of poems in his adopted Irish English. Marisa had lost the page when the book dropped onto the table, and so she immediately flipped to where two pages appeared glued, near the collection’s middle poems—a trilogy of elegies to dead linguists and their invented alphabets—and just after them, there sat an unassuming single-stanza poem, more emblematic of 1970s California Renaissance verse than the culturally ambiguous post-millennial Ireland, which often enjoyed positing that God spoke their native language in pale blue dreams:
into the cheap
the wom’n by
me hurl’d hands
hurl’d her hands and scream’d for
my leg I says please
for the rich
the old man he
fell ov’r his seat into
saw numb’r 12’s heel
just ov’r the moon
reach’d heav’n and
to a discordant one-
they says it loudly and then
they says it twice
Rereading it, the lacking punctuation rang true, for whatever it’s worth. The single stanza and its broken lines, a lineation of nouns and prepositions, reflected the collection’s framing title. It suggested musings in episodic digressions, this being one of fifty-seven in the book, and its pages fluttered on account of the overhead air conditioning vent that had kicked in cold, finally, and colder than I’d believed it could get. Whereas our previous lyrical sampling size had either been excessively intricate or too visually dependent, this read genuine, even a third time, despite my usual aversion to syntactical gimmick. Even the superfluous validations of noise that culminate the poem, declarations wholly unnecessary because, well, we get it, we don’t need them, and yet their very futility rang of vernacular, a dialect that, if I to prosecute, the long sentence would unquestionably be indicted for, too.
The moment passed silently between us, Marisa’s eyes glistening, waning, and mine none the different, the clear midnight sky past the window like the winding clock, the timekeeping moon whistling a stoppage time for nary a full play. And she watched me, from across the table, one last book caught under her arm until she reached for it and then slid it my way. I took it and glanced at the binding, Ayanna Geunzel’s Hermione’s Hand, hard cover and thick. I’d been familiar with the novel already, read its review last year, and because critics can be beasts with no den mothers to warm them, the author’s every emotional appeal was reduced to disingenuous, cold technique. And so this was it, a last ditch shot and not the kind I’d expected, and, after opening it, the novel’s crot unveiled pages with no indentation, and I aimed to smile but Marisa cut me off, Turn to page seventy-two and let’s simply accept the stalemate our limited senses constrain us to and let’s just go to bed. I’m sure my eyes smiled for her. If not, at least my weary breaths did, and when I turned to the page, I started to read. Luckily, the sentence in question had begun at the top. Reading, I exhaled. I noticed, about a third in, the entire sentence was a recollection of sorts, and when I looked up, Marisa’s half opened eyes aimed silent my way, as if the past two days had angled somehow into a cozy nook on the field. Finishing the sentence, I looked up again and acknowledged with her that the final exasperated shot had been aimed, and at neither net, nor at any point in bounded play. She didn’t wait long thereafter to push her seat back, rise, and then tuck the chair under, and as she circled the table, I stood and tucked in my chair. She led the way out, and after I closed the room door, I saw clearly through the window on the other side of the hall that our last kick had hurled a familiar tune into the moon, an allusion to usual nights and ordinary sleeps and possibly a foreboding that in bed we’d share warm tea before turning off the bedroom light:
About The Writer
J. C. Reyes is originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador. His stories, poems and essays have appeared in Arcadia, Black Warrior Review, Hawaii Review and The Busy Signal. He holds a Mathematics degree from New York University, and he currently teaches creative writing, literature, and composition at The University of Alabama.
She had done her best, but walking through the lobby, one of straight faces and suits and cleaning men mopping marble, left her no recourse but to reconsider everything endlessly, from her introductory handshake to the way she pressed the elevator button going down when she left, knowing wholly the critical eyes that beset her at every point during her job interview, a judgmental gaze that began, of course, the moment she walked through the marketing company’s double glass doors and approached the welcome desk, where first the advertising agency’s receptionist greeted Hermione and then proceeded to lead her into the waiting room, Any seat is fine, Thank you, Someone will be in here shortly, Thank you, Please don’t touch the magazines, Oh yes of course, And don’t eat the candy, Ah yes okay, and then the company’s Creative Director, who stepped into the waiting room holding a sandwich in one hand, a napkin in the other, I hope you don’t mind, No of course not, We have concurrent projects in process developing twenty-five second television spots for soccer cleats and I’m literally swallowing sandwiches and a salad while rearranging the screen layout on a single frame, That sounds exciting, Honey you don’t have to impress me, Excuse me, Listen keep the optimism to a minimum in the interview room and you’ll do just fine, and so Hermione nodded, slowly, as if to demonstrate an understanding and understated his skepticism without betraying her distrust of petty workplace oligarchies, and as he led her to the interview room, the company’s Montaigne Board Room, a suite so impressive its window view of the ocean paled in comparison to the individually molded overhanging lamps shining sharp orange lighting that made for both easy reading and minimal shading across the floor, and once in the board room, Hermione greeted those whom she assumed were chief officers of the firm but who, throughout the interview, remained nameless to her, not to mention the fact they merely extended their hands without standing when Hermione entered the room and extended hers, something of a cold and consistent, and rather corporate, if you ask me, attention to formality, one that emerged during the interview as an insistence to interrupt Hermione’s every answer, Yes actually I did play collegiate soccer at--, Honey the particulars aren’t important, Yes we’d wanted to confirm only your familiarity with the sport’s equipment products generally and of course our company products specifically, Yes of course well in my previous position at Golden Kick Innovations I organized and managed extensive regional customer surveys based on--, So then the answer’s yes, Excuse me, Honey are you familiar with our products, Yes of course, Great then next item, an ugly routine, really, a scathing transcript, one whose blunt demeaning tone emanated off the page like campfire brush, and after Hermione had returned home, dropped her suitcase by the door plopped on the couch and decided to stare soothingly through the open living room window, she mentally recreated the entire interview, as if its replay on the bus ride home hadn’t been enough, this time recalling the two stone-faced female executives, a certain Odetta Partridge and Bella Gestape, and then searching for their available digital information online, including photographs of the women on the company’s primary site, both piercing Hermione’s mobile screen with knifing gazes, as stiff as their breathing embodiments had been, and after Hermione surfaced from her temporarily anaesthetizing pity, she rose from the couch, her eyebrows bitter by necessity, and she strode to her drafting desk, where she kept a handwritten chart tracking her job application process upon which, of twenty-two resumes distributed, seven companies called for interviews, and of those seven, three interviews, including this latest one at Goalpost Gears, had happened and proven flops, and not because the previous two had confirmed their choosing someone else for the position, but because Hermione had relied on her procedural familiarity to know, the corporate hiring firing structure a breed so homogenous as to mock the animal instinct to hurl fire and run at the wind, and so Hermione reached for her loose ball under the drafting desk, stretching her toes until she could press against the ball and roll it her way, and then she massaged her bare left foot over the top curve, something of a lover’s habit to trace contour and stitched skins at a moment’s notice, and then, beyond a conscious thought, she reared her leg back and rammed her foot’s arch squarely, pop air and boom, and she fired the ball into her kitchen, rattling the wall sink and cupboard doors, not to mention shaking her stacked dishes, because if the expressionless stench of our economy’s executive branch had snuck up and scored thrice, Hermione would return the offensive spurt with at least one broken stove, if only to prove that no three-nil mark would ever go uncontested, so just as long as there remained something to kick.