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Teakettle, and: Scribblers
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After the first snow, I burn to death
another teakettle, the second one in as many months,
and the kitchen’s full of smoke.

An hour ago, I slipped into my husband’s barn coat
and headed out to the woodpile, but the forest
was ice jewels, so I took a walk.

This is how we trace our paths
back to the source of trouble. I’d turned off
the whistle so’s not to wake my husband

in case he was dreaming of flying.
Then the sun-dazzled hedges bowed down for me,
blocked the road. Already this year

autumn was golden, and summer ripened
to sweetness on vines. Spring buds burst
into blossom. And now this crystal forest!

How have I not yet burned down the house?
Later, when my husband opens the bathroom door,
he is lit from behind, steam curling

into a lion’s mane around him.
We were so young when we got married.
I was carrying something heavy

when he dropped to one knee
and proposed. I put down the heavy thing
before saying yes.


A kid complained to his teacher about another kid
drawing. “He just scribbled
and scribbled all hour, Mrs. Glover. He didn’t make anything.”

That’s me: The scribbler
and the tattletale.

The teacher, too. The hungry drinker
and the gin-soaked olive.

And the glass. Standing at the cupboard with the door open,
I’m eating bittersweet chips I’m saving
for cookies, shaking my finger at myself.

And my new novels, you should see them!
I’ve become the snake that devours itself,
starting with its own tail.

(At first it’s accidental, but

once I start, there’s no spitting myself out—
it’s the way my teeth are angled,
and so I keep on.)

The inevitable end is a mathematical
impossibility, an eternal moving deeper
within (despite my being very finite),

by halves of course, so that I never succeed
in devouring myself. I am a dense knot,
hoping to become a tunnel into an alternate universe.

Bonnie Jo Campbell  

Bonnie Jo Campbell is the author of the best-selling novel Once Upon a River and a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow. She was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award for her story collection American Salvage. Additionally, she has published the novel Q Road and the story collection Women and Other Animals. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her husband and two donkeys.

Copyright © 2014 Louisiana State University Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Bonnie Jo Campbell. "Teakettle, and: Scribblers." Southern Review 50.2 (2014): 175-176. Project MUSE. Web. 25 Apr. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Campbell, B. J.(2014). Teakettle, and: Scribblers. Southern Review 50(2), 175-176. Louisiana State University Press. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
Bonnie Jo Campbell. "Teakettle, and: Scribblers." Southern Review 50, no. 2 (2014): 175-176. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed April 25, 2014).
T1 - Teakettle, and: Scribblers
A1 - Bonnie Jo Campbell
JF - Southern Review
VL - 50
IS - 2
SP - 175
EP - 176
PY - 2014
PB - Louisiana State University Press
SN - 2168-5541
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/southern_review/v050/50.2.jo-campbell.html
N1 - Volume 50, Number 2, Spring 2014
ER -


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