Excerpts from Chlora's Book of the Month Club: July and March
Copyright 2015, Ginger Henry Geyer
In July, Chlora's waiting for hotdogs on the boat dock at the lake...
As Chlora's aunt sliced homegrown
monster tomatoes, she debated if the
mayonnaise had been out in the sun too long.
Chlora eyed the big mayonnaise jar.
The ancient Israelites stored things in jars, too,
like dead scrolls they found in the sea.
They also tried hoarding their manna in jars,
after they'd grown sick and tired
of collecting it everyday.
The deal was, this flaky stuff
falling from the sky was a miracle
and they got tired of the miracle.
The manna probably got stuck in their hair
and looked like dandruff.
They called the manna "what's it"
because at first nobody
could figure out what it was.
Maybe it looked like snow on a hot day.
Or sparkled as it fell, like bits of gold leaf
wafting down from the dome of a cathedral.
Chlora had heard a story once
of this happening when some orthodox
iconographers were on a scaffold
burnishing the gold leaf haloes
of the saint figures.
Slivers of gold flaked down and priests
twirled around in their black hassocks
attempting to capture the
ungatherable glitter in their skirts.
They shoulda known better.
Gold from heaven can't be caught, it just is.
Same deal with manna.
After tasting the flaky stuff, the Israelites
acted like normal human beings
and desired more.
They were told not to hoard it,
but to depend on providence,
as in "give us this day our daily bread."
Some guys who couldn't live without
planning their future
gathered extra manna, put it in a jar and
hid it in the ark of the covenant alongside
the tablets of the Ten Commandments.
Just like God had warned, the
captured manna spoiled
and made them sick. Served them right!
Chlora sniffed the globby, warm mayonnaise
and reminded her aunt of the time they all got
food poisoning at the family reunion.
That did it.
The mayo jar got rinsed out with lake water
and Chlora stepped forward to claim it.
It would make a fine reliquary for
some wonderful creature
she was sure to find here at the lake.
Chlora had learned from experience, however,
that when you store a miracle in a jar,
you better leave off the lid.
The following April, Chlora's at the Easter picnic, when a bouncing ball disrupts plans for lunch:
An older boy Chlora disliked
stood by the picnic table bouncing a soccer ball,
kicking up dust.
This was the same boy who got her in
trouble here before.
They had paired up on the teeter-totter,
see-sawing like mood swings.
Chlora jumped off of her end too fast,
and he hurtled to the ground
and hurt his crotch.
He had hollered to high heaven
that she had ruined him for life.
Now he was giving her dirty looks,
so she hung a pickle in her mouth, snarled,
poked a green olive on each finger tip,
and wiggled them as if she were
the wicked witch of the west.
He threw the ball at her.
Chlora dodged but the ball
landed splat in the middle of the picnic table.
It initiated the domino effect.
The fried chicken bucket tumbled over.
Drumsticks rolled in the dirt.
Whipped cream shot up in the air.
It was as if Jesus himself had turned
the tables over in the temple.
The ball smashed her favorite
meringue cookies and bowled over
six open bottles of NuGrape Soda.
The soda fizzed and spread like grace
over every available surface.
The Wonder Bread grew into purple mush.
It was grosser than cannibalism.
Plus it ruined all opportunities
for the sandwich contest Chlora
had hoped to host.
Her favorite invention,
a mustard and mayonnaise sandwich—
was bound for glory.
She had planned to dub it the
and the eater would have to proclaim
whether it was her duty or her privilege
to eat it. It was the best thing
since sliced bread or at least since PB&J.
And like all sandwiches,
it had a story behind it.
In this case, the story was
which, like ketchup, should be
declared a major food group.
Chlora preferred the substitute spread,
She brought the whole big jar to the picnic.
Truth was she liked the jar better
than the mayo it held.
A big mayo jar had a myriad of uses.
They were especially good
for housing bugs you caught,
like iridescent June bugs or fireflies.
This was the wrong time of year
for either of those,
but she hoped to catch a
butterfly out here in the park.
Or dig up some worms, or just bottle up
some holy water from the creek
and watch it come alive days later.
But now that the bread was ruined,
there'd be no sandwiches, no need
for mayonnaise, no empty jars.
Chlora's aunts were dismayed too,
as now they could not
sandwich their prayers
between slices of living bread.
Their prayers would have to be
consumed another way.