At the winter MFA residency at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, VCFA faculty member Abby Frucht gave a lecture on using tarot cards as a way to dissect/flesh out place, object, or character in fiction and creative nonfiction work. A creative approach to building a story, I think and a way to generate/think about new material. Here, I want to try this out in short pieces of prose/poetry with the tarot as an inspiration, as a guide, as an exercise in brevity, in observation, in memory, in place. My hope is that these short stories (beyond practicing words and syntax) will be pleasurable to read.
The second card: what covers, supports, or gives strength to*
In Baja, south of Mulege, at midnight, I swam a warm lagoon where plankton set the water with sparkles as I advanced and stilled, making and unmaking a phosphorescent sea. Later, on another night, my friends had sex in the water, rippling it out in shades of green like tropical frogs. The girl only told me this later. My friend. That’s how I know. On that trip, another friend took an abandoned dog home to California. The dog was sleazy, worn, and like a coyote though we thought pregnant because her teats were full and dangling, but we could see the bones through her ghostly white coat. We thought she might have rabies. We didn’t know. We thought she might be starving. One night, we drank too much tequila and the flies hatched so we couldn’t sleep in our tents with flimsy curtains. I wandered the desert like it was a welcoming terrain, but it wasn’t and I could have gone wrong. Later, we stumbled to an abandoned salt flat, and the salt took our tongues like a squint after sucking limes. It scrubbed our skin as we slept unknowingly in this plain of salt, this dry bed, this saline desert.
*Attributed to Abby Frucht’s handout, The Tarot of Character at VCFA 2014 winter residency.