from Invisible Bride
For years, irate mothers’ groups have demanded playground reform
as child-guidance experts, educators, architects and artists formulated
the exact number of dangerous illusions in the world. For openers,
the lakes appear to be sheathed in glass while it is in fact the dreary
expanses of asphalt that are stuffed with it.
Two swing-sets are nearly touching.
A playground lets our children dash about?willing, laughing, suspending,
breaking each other’s bones?as the thinkers make fools of us.
The playground spins our thoughts around and extends a hospitable welcome
to those who want to avail themselves of a chance to walk in the shade
of some excellent exterior landscaping. This month, I will explore
playground reform as an intuitive response aiming to produce and promote
ideal gender identities in children.
A child’s body itself is a playground in which gender identities
can be monitored and produced, compelling reformers to locate them
in public, visible settings. Like a cloud, I am meant to serve a large
population. A playground should be a sort of truce between the tunnels
and twilights of childhood. A playground should be rippling at its
outermost branches. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission,
about 120,000 playground injuries are treated in U.S. hospitals each
A playground should remain in a child’s heart, even as that
child, years later, awakes, in his or her own clothes, on a beach,
bruised (in a “pool of bruises” in fact), blue-veined and
delivered from his or her indolence into an outdoor, multi-use play
area of a completely different sort, one that acknowledges a community’s
commitment to its children and the future they will inherit.
A playground, above all else, should be the first blossom and wintry
ground, the fuzzy, distant shore and the whale’s belly, the physical
soup and the philosophical skin that agrees to mouth adult expectations
concerning aesthetics and safety, even as it swallows them.
The man who went into a coma after the flood is still out of it. We
have similar needs. He moves through songs of sorrow and death ropes
with a halo best described as ‘oceanic.’ This entire
experience has been like watching the union of two virgins: him and
the world (virgins are made for lying down together).
I count at least forty methods of devouring.
Since he dozed off, I have hoped to impress his mind that reality
is a balanced bird with many equally important sections; that we should
recognize and search for desirable traits and not be overly concerned
with minor faults; that in the evaluation of the bird, a judge cannot
help but feel dizzy.
I have used his senses as my weapon. I made a mix-tape of disparate
bird calls and have allowed pigeons to nest in his bed.
For five weeks I have been teaching him to draw birds by taking his
(cold, unresponsive) hand and executing some modest, semi-realistic
sketches (each bird’s neck tilted slightly back with no trace
of neck-shaking or over-styling, all colored birds evenly-colored throughout)
of birds in their natural habitats.
I am very eager to judge his drawings when he finally awakes.
Points will be taken off for: a bird leaning too far forward or backward;
head not held high; neck drawn too far back; dull or faded color, color
lacking sheen; colors blending together to produce impure or smutty
effect; bronze cast on body, neck or head; coarse, prominent, or contrasting
ceres (except in white shietti, where a red cere is desired); pale
or lusterless eye color; pinched in face; beetle brows; drooped eye
lids; head too small for balance; scissored wings; loose feathers or
long feathers; any tail or wing missing; excessive color; soft feathers;
stained or soiled feathers; awry tail; tail too long; body too shallow,
lacking depth; crooked keel; keel too long and not curved; body too
small, lacking in substance; body too square or angular lacking overall
roundness; broken bill or unmatched eyes; split keel; completely white
primary or secondary wing feathers; completely white tail feathers.