by Molly Prentiss

When General Franco Turned into a Pig. Madrid, 2005
This is the place where we make slushes with our tongues. A lisp is appropriate here; it is a beautiful broom sound, not shameful like a stutter. I eat churros dipped in chocolate: another sort of lisp. Also, the corridors, where you can tell the prostitutes by their silly putty. My sister revels in this dark, malleable idea. She stutters when we putty past them. I buy a toggle coat, a scarf. The weather is winter; we eat as many grapes as there are months in the year; we wake on New Year’s to my mother being pulled to the ground by her handbag. The robber lumbers away. Lisps through the alleyways, corriendo. I run, lumbering after. Un cerdo un lispy cerdo! Correr un lispy cerdo, correr. We are on our way to Sevilla, and we still have those piggish passports thank god.

Mussolini’s Million Pronged Fork. Italy, 2004

The roller coaster language is a roller coaster, and in Roma I learn to ride. There are classrooms with columns, with chandeliers, with espresso makers fritzing in the marble hallways. An oily sort of glamour, a greasy sort of tongue. I find the undulations fantastic: io sono, tu sai, noi siamo, and on and on with the conjugations getting convoluted and their turns and valleys running into each other like bumper cars, sparking at the top. A whole landscape of ranges and flips. And finally I am at the highest peak with my hands in the air, ready for the big fall. At that top place, that high-pitched precipice, I look down on a red city with high towers that fans out like a million pronged fork and I hold my breath— andiamo!—and find myself flying down the throat of a mother, flying down the throat of a corridor, flying down the throat of a nation that doesn’t look outward, only in. Bologna’s fork is tied around itself, twirling its own spaghetti, reddened by its bursting sauce, insulating itself by becoming its own oven. I am flying down the throat of a non-mother that says with her hair buzzing: Cara mia, dove sono i tuoi scarpe? And the valleys in her voice are the mountains, also.

The Night of the Pencils and the Twenty Five Men. Buenos Aires, 2006

When I taste sunflower oil I think of a certain territory. A territory marked by territory. Long masses of land out to here. Moon craters, “L”s shaped like whispers: It is nighttime in las Pampas. We sit high in our recliners. We eat luxury sandwiches and mash up the bread with our molars. When we return to the city, the Germans are making sounds with their throats, crooning at each others nightgowns, taking photographs of the inside of the house. The journalist is chiseling up his meat and the knife sound is a lullaby. Dormir en una cama de sunflowers. Dormir en una moon crater. Kiss twenty five men in one long night and taste the sunflower oil in their steak mouths. Kill seven cows and then blend up your speech, twist up your mouth: we are among the porteñas and they say things in this very certain way.

What Was The Deal With Diaz? Mexico, 2000

On the top of the armadillo hill they sell souveiners and dulces. They have prostitutes here, too, probably, but I am too young to know them. At the bullfight they move like they are angry but I understand it might be an act of love. I also understand that I am acting when I pretend to learn the tango in a moon room. Dancing is a kind of bullfight, I think, and the animal way they speak is killing me. I am young enough to copy any word, my mouth can move like anyone’s, and I am fighting and dancing with the language but it’s following me around like a dog. It’s obeying me like a dog. Venga venga lengua lengua, obeying me like a dog. I’ve got a red cape and a Corona bottle and a short skirt on stage which doesn’t, at the time, seem in any way dangerous. Because my teacher Fabiola is the prettiest thing I’ve seen and she’s been teaching me how to ask for things in a way that is polite. Walking around on all fours in this city, asking for things that I do not want, which I understand might be nothing more than an act of love or of dancing sideways round the truth.

Photo: Molly Prentiss
Molly Prentiss lives in San Francisco, where she recently received her MFA in Creative writing at the California College of the Arts. She has been published in La Petit Zine, Plaid Review, and elsewhere. She is a co-director of an arts and writing collective called factorycompany. Both her writings and drawings can be found at: mollyprentiss.blogspot.com.