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Sunday, August 18, 2019


by Alejandro Escudé 

During a faculty meeting icebreaker, when I raise my hand to volunteer the song I’ve had stuck in my head, one man yells out: “Ahh. Sing it!” in front of my colleagues. I hear his voice as brassy, sarcastic-toned. Simultaneously, I think of the photograph on the news site today
of the three people (a family?) witnessing the nuclear explosion in Russia—the fire cloud off in the distance, like a huge, rotten orange. 

There are moments when 
you realize you’re job is like that too, a rotten orange. Only you’re stuck inside of it, pushing up against the rind. Or, maybe your job is like Russia and its oligarchs. And sometimes, you and your colleagues are like that family watching the explosion of a missile pregnant with a nuclear reactor. A whale carcass. A room with bones for support beams. Hanging flesh. 

We were asked, at the faculty meeting, to recall a song we had stuck in our heads this summer. And I said I had the Tarzan camp song repeating in my head; that call and response song I had to lead my second graders with— when I was a twenty-year-old camp counselor. 

“Tar … zan,” it began, and they repeated. “Swinging on a rubber band … Tar … zan … fell into a frying pan.” 
I sang it again with my daughter, seven years old, now that she’s in summer camp. The words have changed, slightly. But I think once more of that colleague who sarcastically yelled out that I, sing the song, 
as if I were telling some untruth, or trying too hard impress the room. 

Maybe, later on, someone informed that man that I had kids. That I’d just gotten divorced after seventeen years of marriage. That my kids visit me on weekends and it feels as though half my soul were missing from my body and I only become whole again when I am with them. 

But I don’t think 
anyone told him. He probably thought I was just trying to be cute. I guess, I’ve always tried to be cute. I guess the Russians are trying to be cute as well, installing nuclear reactors inside of missiles that have the ability to reach Alaska, and beyond. 

“Fell into a frying pan,” my daughter repeats. 
“Now Tarzan has a tan. Now Tarzan has a tan.”

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.