Excerpts from Chlora’s Book of the Month Club: April and May
1) APRIL: It is Easter morning, and Chlora and her big sister Joanie Kay are getting ready for church:
Chlora planned to do her own willy nilly hair
when Joanie finally relinquished the bathroom.
She had left it littered with her huge
homemade curlers made out of orange juice cans
and bobby pins and Dippedy Do.
She was now in another world
under the hairdryer hood, plugged into the wall,
attached to a vacuum hose for thirty whole minutes.
She was on a short tether and didn’t seem to mind
that it might suck out her entire brain.
It had already ruined her hearing.
Joanie was proud of that hairdryer
and took it to bunking parties
in its own carrying case, like a bowling ball.
While she was getting blown away,
she dipped into the stinky nail polish
and did up her fingernails and toenails
right down to the pinky.
Such all-important distractions kept her
head in the clouds and away from whatever
was going on in the world.
All that fuss was not for Chlora.
Joanie looked like a bubble headed Barbie
with that thing on.
And when she took off the air jet hood
she would have big blowzy hair
like Dolly Parton.
She’d uplift it more with mousse,
brush it into a perfect flip,
and seal it for the ages with hairspray.
Chlora tried yelling at her from behind
and she didn’t hear a thing.
Maybe Chlora could sneak a bee into her bonnet,
and Joanie would come out
with a beehive hairdo.
If she peeked under the hood
she’d learn that Joanie Kay actually had
her head in the bread,
like a saint, ecstatic with communion,
and encircled by the Golden Legend.
Afterall, the Bible is pretty hairy if you think about it.
That pretty boy Absalom lost his life because of his curls.
Idiot, riding a horse under a tree and got caught
in the branches by his thick mop of hair.
Then there was Samson who got at the wrong end
of the scissors with Delilah.
Chlora knew just how he felt,
after her mom took hair-cutting lessons and experimented on her.
At least she didn’t go blind.
What was left of Chlora’s hair after an awful week
of bad hair days had been rolled up in
spongy pink rollers by Mom the night before.
Those things hurt when you laid down in bed
and she had ripped them all out
in the middle of the night.
How Joanie Kay got any sleep at all with those
enormous cans all over her head
The windy mountaintop experience
from the Easter sunrise service
hadn’t done Chlora’s hair any favors.
Her choppy hair angled off into kinky curly-cues, like her mind.
She stuck her head under the faucet
and instantly the whole bathroom smelled like ammonia,
the residual from last week’s
perfectly awful home permanent.
Now Chlora felt light-headed.
She squirted a generous handful of goo into her hair
and slicked it down. Her hands got all smacky
so she had to get a squirt of soap out of the
dispenser of wisdom by the sink.
Next she grabbed the normal, hand-held
hair dryer which was shaped like
the head of Queen Nefertiti from Egypt;
What was it about these queens and their big hair?
Hopefully the hair dryer would fry out the smell of the permanent.
No wonder it was called a permanent.
It was permanent.
Alas, her hair now just stuck out like an orangutan.
Chlora had a moment of vanity panic
and for once was glad to wear the dreaded Easter hat
with the clinging rosebuds and bobby pins.
that Mom had selected to go with Chlora’s Sunday dress.
But when Mom saw Chlora’s hairdo
she threw up her hands and gave up.
She went after her big floppy garden hat
tied a pretty ribbon on it
and told Chlora to leave on that hat no matter what.
Mom knew Chlora’s hair was her own fault.
She had experimented on her with a Toni home permanent
that had gone bad. She had told Chlora it’d make her look pretty
and her hair would grow long and curly like Rapunzel’s.
Mom hadn’t read that tale lately.
It was akin to Rahab the Harlot.
It was a dismal day in Holy Week
when Mom made Chlora lean over the kitchen sink
and shut her eyes while she squrited
the vile mixture on her head.
She stunk like a skunk.
It was a hair-raising endurance test.
She wrapped up her wet hair in a towel,
quickly twisted into high turban like an Arab.
Chlora yearned to have the bouncy curls of Pollyanna
and hold up optimistic prisms to the light.
Or maybe have long slinky hair like Lady Godiva,
or shiny red curls like Mary Magdalen,
long enough to cover any private parts.
Better yet,why not snakes for hair, like Medusa.
When the foul beauty treatment
was finally over and dried,
Chlora looked like that goofball
Her hair was kinked up and full of split ends.
It would have to go.
Since she could not get one of those elitist haircuts on a jet
like celebrity presidents do,
she would just have to do it herself.
So, on Good Friday
Chlora got out her big Matisse scissors,
the same ones she used for making collages,
and gave herself a trim.
As her frizzy, stinky, permed locks hit the floor,
she was much relieved.
Stubs of hair stuck out every which way.
Her tattletale little brother
said he was gonna tell Mom,
whereupon Chlora threatened to kill
Peter Cotton Tail and stew his carrots in poison ivy.
Mom caught one look at Chlora’s spriggy hair
and was madder than a wet hen.
How could you do this right before Easter?
Off to the beauty shop for you, young lady
and I don’t mean maybe!
One disaster begets another.
But now it was Easter morning,
time to rejoice and to quit splitting hairs.
The garden hat would do just fine.
Mary Magdalene herself probably wore one just like it.
Chlora wrote a little ditty about it:
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How your garden glows!
Your face looks flushed, or has it blushed
For the gardens which you chose?
Weep not over a rolled back rock
Wait, have faith, Yield!
For the gardener misidentified
Is Rabboni who was crucified,
The world's true sun and shield!
"Noli me tangere !" He said.
It is for you that I'm not dead.
Can't know my life by touching it,
only by loving and living it.
It was a pretty lame poem, but like the hat, it’d do.
She changed out of her sunrise slippers,
crammed the hat over her hair,
and went to church.
MAY: About a month later, Chlora is mulling over the resurrection of Jesus. She’s confused about the ascension and the assumption and has to work out some details...
They had been through Pentecost
and the perennial question of the resurrection came back up.
Chlora recalled Easter and how that preacher
tried to explain what happened to Jesus.
The deal was, the bad guys couldn’t nail him down for good.
God flat out rejected human injustice and
gave a corrective to it: Jesus rose like a soufflé
right out of that tomb. Brought back to life by God,
or by his own self, since he was God too.
Resurrection was the second big bang.
Love bursting forth not confined by time or space,
no longer confined by boundaries
between people so now full interconnection was possible.
That Jesus was one-of-a-kind
didn’t mean he was the only one,
therefore you didn’t have to demean
those who believed in other ways
of accessing these religious mysteries.
That made more sense than a lot of what
she had heard in Sunday School.
But there needed to be timeline
of all these events in the Bible
that seemed to pass one another like ships in the night.
Did the Resurrection mean Jesus’ humanity was cut off
and his divinity kicked in?
Or did he have it both ways the entire time?
Chlora applied logic to the problem
as this seemed to work for systematic theologians.
OK, get this straight:
resurrection is getting raised from the dead.
Brought back to life after being dead as a doornail.
Sort of like Lazarus, but then Laz died again.
He had 40 days to zoom in and out of people’s lives
right there on earth. He had to get all that babbling
straightened out on Pentecost.
And then he ascended.
That’s the part when he got to fly.
At least, she surmised that Jesus could fly.
Paintings of his ascension into heaven
made it look entirely possible.
He may have shot up wearing a personal jet pak,
leaving a puffy cloud stream behind.
Chlora simulated this on the Fourth of July
when she jumped off the dock with an umbrella
and a backpack full of fireworks.
But gravity won.
She made a big splash for which she was grateful,
or otherwise she would’ve gone up in flames.
And luckily somebody fished her out
but her Mary Poppins umbrella sunk down to Davy Jones’ locker.
But that was the Fourth of July and this was Pentecost.
Maybe Jesus had a quiet, private elevator to eternity.
And what is difference between eternal life and life everlasting?
Were resurrection and ascension the same thing?
It was very confusing,
Luke has him do it twice,
and then he kept reappearing.
Wherever he went, he didn’t stay put.
He went walking through walls and hiking up to Emmaus,
then he had a fish fry on the beach, and let Thomas poke him in the ribs.
Art history was helpful with all those post-resurrection events,
but it was confusing on the ascension.
Some pictures of his ascension
just showed his footprints in the sand.
The book of Acts says he went up and a cloud received him,
and his friends just stood there looking up at the sky
They had bewildered looks on their faces
and no wonder, the soles of his feet
were all that was left as he flew out of the picture plane.
But by then they had already had Pentecost
and all those flames of fire burning up their heads
to let them know that his spirit was still around
even if his body wasn’t.
He had metamorphosed from sculpture into music.
No longer limited to a few square miles of Palestine,
he’d joined up with the music of the spheres for evermore
where it’d be a lot easier to spread himself thin
for the entire universe.
Like the lady who was Wrinkled by Time,
Chlora knew that you can’t cram
the glory of the resurrection into a fact.
So why do people keep dreaming up these stories
and turning them into facts?
To complicate it even more, those Catholics
did the same sort of thing with Mary
but they called it an assumption.
Like, she assumed the worst,
or had an assumption of innocence.
Assumptions should also be challenged by facts,
but we all get caught up in it,
all this consciousness raising, and assume too much.
The deal was that Mary fell dead asleep like Sleeping Beauty
and Jesus took her up into heaven, whereas
He ascended on his own steam.
Chlora was reminded of Joanie Kay in her bonnet hairdryer,
her air head swirling inside the dome
with a battalion of baguettes on the underside,
angels lifting her up, up, up
by her hot little ears.
It turned into an invisible hot air balloon, an assume balloon
and slowly rose into the ozone layer, out of the blue.
Maybe if Chlora wore the hairdryer bonnet
in the treehouse she could float away too,
her body and soul united in holy bliss, prayers ascending.
With that boost, Mary could grab Chlora by the hand
and they’d fly right through the frescoed dome
in the big cathedral with its goofy perspective.
They’d pass by Eve and receive an apple or two
and all the prophets would cheer them onward and upward.
Mary would be crowned big time Queen of Heaven
and Chlora could be her lady in waiting.
Chlora would get to wear a tiara for real.
It would all be very glorious and humbling at the same time,
and beyond assumption or comprehension.
Such things happen in Mary’s merry month of May
when the fragrance of
Mother’s Day roses, in red and white,
interacts with space and time,
and before you know it,