Delayed-Reaction Colonization In Absentia of a Forgotten Island by Jacques Servin

BOMB 33 Fall 1990
033 Fall 1990

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Poultry. Energetic madam of Iwo Jima is fond of poultry in its edible manifestations, those which do not take away from the furtherance of the poultry race. Eggs she abhors on moral as well as tongue-aesthetic grounds, but her credo is not a violent one and these problems are private, private to her holdings. Her holdings are not vast.

Mouth. Madam’s mouth position is not the mouth-position of brilliance, to be sure, and neither is it American. Madam holds it inscrutable and spicily near the exit-zone of propriety, there where land holdings form a muddy and not entirely volatile bulwark against the ravages of the difficult fierce. The difficult fierce are ten of her less tractable brethren.

History. The tension of this story arises from madam. Madam, energetic madam of Iwo Jima holds within her domain the island’s umbilicus mundi. In one plot grown over with unruly life, angry vines, on an almost phallicly protruding mound of hard dirt, is the umbiliform, aniform manifestation of the greatest American nation’s visitation in a dangerous year for this world. The men, and women, of the settlement do not adorn the Hole with sundry tokens of gloating respect. They do not remember the happenings that led to the kindling in the earth of emptiness four centimeters in width and 20 deep. They do not bedeck their hair on certain days with special products of their mills and factories and chemists, or chastise children for puling a fierce, malignant puling on this day of days, the cheerful day of our world, the glen-perfect candor-day for everything dug deep in the bowels of our hearts. They do not smother the Hole.

They do not coat it, or adorn it, or glide their angel-smoothed limbs over the earth so enticingly cleft with one gentle dimple to form a pocket of—as the arms, the thighs glide asking “up-here?”; up here the gloating, the cheer comes tumbling askingly down to the still perfection of this angry moment. They do not.

Charles. Charles tries on an anklet, another anklet, is wearing his mother’s anklets. The masses scream adoration for their warlords, this is the day of woe-coming, but Charles is placid, adoring only the silver on his adolescent feet. Handsome with anklets and hair-beads and sash he looks out the window, well-versed of course in the manifold calamities the masses cry from their splendid perches on the shoulders of each other, aspiring to vertical prominence there in the sweat. But he turns away and finds a book on madam’s table, the island has learned to read, Iwo Jima is literate, Iwo Jima has the literacy rate of the United States, and he reads, Charles reads, he reads of bombs and cruisers and stationary and non-stationary targets on land and sea. He looks at the pictures of ships and mountains, and there is one hillock, and he knows why his mother has kept this book. American soldiers at Iwo Jima.

Mound. Charles is fighting through the underbrush, he has divested himself of the feminine stuff and replaced it carefully, he is angry and determined without knowing quite how or why. He claws the vines and finds the splendid rise of sun-burnt clay, nearly brick, a good ten meters high. He climbs and climbs and there, where he remembers from his days of puling, the hole, the little hole his frightened little arms used to reach down into once in a long while. The same. He understands.

Telephone. Charles installs a telephone and orders dishwashers, bicycles, hairdressing kits. He arranges the hair and clothes of his brethren; even the difficult fierce patronize his fledgling attempts. He bravely unveils the Hole from his bicycle. The island succumbs.

Jacques Servin is a Federation Fellow in writing at Louisiana State University. His work appears in Witness, Pacific Review, Exquisite Corpse, Fine Madness, and the New Delta Review among other small magazines. He is a winner of the 1989 ISU/Fiction Collective National Fiction Competition.

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BOMB 33, Fall 1990

Featuring interviews with Al Pacino, Ian McEwan, Dr. John, Harvey Keitel, Vikram Seth, Dorothea Phillips, Thulani Davis, Victoria Williams, Bella Freud, Jo Shane, Campbell Scott, and Dorothea Tanning.

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033 Fall 1990