the minnesota review is pleased to feature each of our nominees for the 2013 Pushcart Prize in the coming weeks. This week we are excited to bring you an excerpt from Beth Gilstrap‘s “Yardshow.” Please check back next week for more on our nominees and their work.
It ain’t garbage if you turn it into something. Something slow dipped and pulled apart. Put back together again upside down. Round side out. Glib. Free. A vulture made of wire hangers. Fabric ripped, draped, coated in splash zone compound. Shingle seals barking up at spraying feathers.
I got a scrap heap under a tarp up in the back yard. Sunday, that’s my girl’s name, says its all junk. I need to get shit of it if I want her to move in with me. I can’t picture her up in here, though. She’s too pretty. Got long nails and a sweep of collarbone that gets me off task. I’m just fine with her uptown at her tidy little woman’s place with fresh sheets and curtains and all.
My house is about as bad as my yard. I keep buckets of empty spray paint cans in the kitchen. Paint done gone to its place in the spotlight on other yard shows. One bucket colored a great big rooster up on Dunlop Street. That one was commissioned. Not really yard show if it’s city-funded, I guess. Still, my big cock gonna last a long time, I like to say. I plan on taking a mallet to those cans, smashing them to planets. I got paper bags of old beer cans. They make my house smell sour but one day they’ll be tall Black-eyed Susans jutting out from an old tire swing. I’ll run the chains bolted to the tire with ribbon, maybe nylons. Colored Legg nylons –that kind that comes in a plastic egg at the drugstore for fifty cents.
I got an old carpet remnant rolled up in the corner. It could have some cat pee on it, but I say that just adds to it. Going to be a piece for all the senses and Lord knows a sense of smell is a right powerful thing. An eagle will hang from barbed wire. Maybe some old bamboo fishing poles, tie some ripped scarves to the top, so they can catch the wind and decorate my yard with whipping fabric, wind-dancing blues and muddy purples. They can hang limp during rain showers, dry hard in the sun. Grow green spots of mold. Start to disintegrate.
Those high-art folk like to talk about decay these days. Painting in blood. Horseshit, I say. We been doing this down South ages.
“Yardshow” was first published in issue 81 (Fall 2013) of the minnesota review. Beth Gilstrap was a recent writer-in-residence at Shotpouch Cabin with the Spring Creek Project for ideas, nature, and the written word at Oregon State University. She earned her MFA from Chatham University. Her prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Ambit, Quiddity, Kudzu Review, Superstition Review, and Twisted South Magazine, among others. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and animals. To learn more about Gilstrap and her work, please visit her website. You can read the rest of “Yardshow” or any of our other Pushcart nominees by accessing our online archive at Duke University Press, available here.