Carnival of Animals

Every summer Francis insisted that his favorite childhood lake be brought to Liechtenstein to fill his pool. A pod of pelicans wearing black chauffer hats would carry gulps of fresh water, complete with algae, fronds and fish, and spit them into the hollowed out kidney.

Thick greenish liquid would lap the edge of the pool, and the filmy topcoat balanced fatigued water lilies. Displaced horseshoe flies huddled between waxy petals. Francis rolled up his jeans and dropped skinny shins into childhood waters.

In between Tom-Sawyer-pole-fishing and sailing his raft through the pool-lake, Francis would dab perfume he’d made behind his ears. It smelled like his Little League dugout: spit sunflower seed shells, and grape Big League Chew, and curled brims of baseball hats. Francis inhaled the scent and let the sun turn his face red. He’d coat pink zinc on his peeling nose and his face transformed into flecks of summer colors.

At night black bears in red bow ties would serve Francis lake-pool-side pasta dinners on silver platters. He’d eat the noodles with his hands, letting tomato sauce paint his cheeks and fingers. Muddy stomached swans would curl their necks into the letter “S” and trumpet begs for strings of spaghetti. They’d wag their tail feathers at the edge of the pool-lake waiting for the threads that he’d drape above their beaks.

Francis liked how the air hung like pea soup. Sweat dappled his skin like condensation on perspiring soda cans, while a slow rising tortoise would eat proffered strips of lettuce from his damp hand.

But sooner or later the air carried the scent of petrichor, the smell of rain, and mudfishes with suitcases in their fins collected the lake. Francis would go outside to skim the top of the pool to find nothing but fin prints from the mudfishes’ locomotion.

Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is an editor at HOOT, a contributor at SSG Music, a cat lady, and a Nutella enthusiast. She’s been published in a number of really nice journals and literary organizations, but never lists them because she feels weird picking favorites.

When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website htpp:// She likes to drink gin out of a mug that has a smug poodle on it, and she’s not wonderful at writing in the third person.

Her mom once hit on Kathleen Turner in a restaurant bathroom, and Jane-Rebecca will never be able to beat that story so she doesn’t even try.

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