… She began generally not to feel well. Never a temple, her body had gone from being a home, to being a house, to being a phone booth, to being a kite. Nothing about it gave her proper shelter. She no longer felt housed within it at all. When she went for a stroll or was out in the yard throwing the nets up into the oaks, other people in the neighborhood walked briskly past her. The healthy, the feeling well, when they felt that way, couldn’t remember feeling any other, couldn’t imagine it. They were niftily in their bodies. They were not only out of the range of sympathy; they were out of the range of mere imagining. Whereas the sick could only think of being otherwise. Their hearts, their every other thought, went out to that well person they hated a little but wanted to be. But the sick were sick. They were not in charge. They had lost their place at the top of the food chain. The feeling well were running the show; which was why the world was such a savage place. From her own porch, she could hear the PA announcements from the zoo. They were opening; they were closing; would someone move their car. She could also hear the elephant, his sad bluesy trumpet, and the Bengal tiger roaring his heartbreak: all that animal unhappiness. The zoo was a terrible place and a terrible place to live near: the pacing ocelot, the polar bear green with fungus, the zebra demented and hungry and eating the fence, children brought there to taunt the animals with paper cups and their own clean place in the world, the vulture sobbing behind his scowl.
Ruth began staying inside, drinking tea. She felt tightenings, pain and vertigo, but then, was that so new? It seemed her body, so mysterious and apart from her, could only produce illness. Though once, of course, it had produced Mitzy. How had it done that? Mitzy was the only good thing her body had ever been able to grow. She was a real chunk of change that one, a gorgeous george. How had her body done it? How does a body every do it? Life inhabits life. Birds inhabit trees, Bones sprout bones. Blood gathers and makes new blood.
A miracle of manufacturing.
from “Real Estate” by Lorrie Moore
ramona lisa / lady’s got gills