Major digression set to minor

Jimmy Chen

As I am not keen on the word shat[1], it is difficult for me to say I noticed that you shat in the pool again[2].


1.   Shit and shat are tenses often used tensely, as in with tension[3]. Say a linguist owns a dog named "Elizabeth," and that bitch has the same name as this linguist's ex-wife. Now let's say the divorce settlement with the latter, per § 6a – 6c, has my wages garnished for alimony, a sponsorship of sorts which sustains her penchant for, from which daily dozens of cardboard boxes stacked taller than an 8-year-old child in the foyer before she moved out—boxes the color of a tan this linguist does not have, as said funds are being depleted in said ways, and he cannot afford a vacation at a location where the sun's effect on one's epidermis is such. I could go on, but I'll spare you an ellipses.

2.   This is a short story, a one-liner haiku which I'm wasting my time telling you about because you can't count, just like I couldn't count; as in count on my lawyer to not 1-2-3 fuck me at $300 an hour after my 3-2-1 retainer ran out.

3.   That is how I feel today, with your shit floating in the pool: tense. Because of your color blindness, you must see your shit in black and white, as in old films or pretentious music videos, which is unfortunate, because your shit[4] in color is a most luminous thing—the pale sunrise this morning fingering through the cypresses onto it in scatological arrays of tertiary pinks.

4.   One thinks of the roll of plastic "doggy bags"[5] inside the drawer. One thinks if a dog with a shitting and/or attitude problem belongs in a mausoleum or memory. One thinks of David, and how this linguist and his ex-wife bear not think of him; how only two years can seem so long ago. Elizabeth wanted the pool destroyed, filled in, turned into a garden which might mimic the Eden she placed our dead son in. One thinks if I had looked out the window that day, I might have seen him fall in, might have re-atomized at the edge of the pool to lift the chlorine sponge of his lungs into this world again. One thinks I should have listened to Elizabeth, could have spared kindness like my head on her empty lap as she asked on the couch trying to television the silence away, should have not mourned for my son—in what would somehow pass as years—selfishly, and worse, competitively. One thinks of the two long parallel concavities, shallow at best, on the mattress made by our unmoving and untouching bodies. One thinks if David is indeed in Eden, or if Eden is merely in us. One thinks, us humans anyway, of many things.

5.   Should I tear off one of these "doggy bags" and bring it outside the wind will inflate it to its buoyant capacity. It will self-flock into the sky and I will transcribe "it flew into the sky"[6] upon my return to this table, on which this letter is being writ; for, really, this is what this is, Elizabeth: my letter to you. I've always felt that "so sorry" was a redundant alliteration, as the latter sentiment can only be measured and felt with the full extent of its capacity. So I'm so sorry about what happened to David, and to us. I'm sorry I never gave you answers until now: Yes, I was watching the game. Yes, I knew he was in the backyard playing. Yes, I should have covered the pool like you said a million times. Yes, I will painfully never forget the score 0 to 0 which always adds to nothing. Yes, it was only 3:41PM and I was already drinking. Yes, I am an alcoholic asshole who ruined his life. And no, I'm not happy now. But that is not the letter I would write, not the courage I never had, but rather, just a stupid thing as "As I am not keen on the word shat, it is difficult for me to say I noticed that you shat in the pool again." I will not have used the verb lost, for the noun of who I am is loss.

6.   The bag is now in a tree, a bloated embarrassed leaf. The word shit comes to mind, as people who suffer misfortunes, however small, are prone to do.

Jimmy Chen writes short fiction and essays. He lives in San Francisco, and can be found online at