photoart: ralph murre
by Bonnie T. Summers
If I were a pair of scissors, I would do whatever I wanted, even what I was not supposed to. I would not do it to be mean, only to test my strength and agility against substantive matters. Just cut loose, for the sheer joy of it!
I would start with wires—the ones that promise instant, static-free and worldwide connection, illumination, or perfect toast—and show them who’s really in charge.
I would carve mazes through graph paper grids, score “Fold Here” lines across Rolodex cards, and shape colored file folders into Matisse-like organic forms. I would pretend to be pinking shears, zigzagging the rows of Avery labels, then snap crayons in two with my might.
I would give cloth napkins interesting edges. I’d see what I could do with Tupperware, baskets woven of natural material, frozen waffles, a ripe kiwi, a raw egg. I would cut into empty plastic milk bottles for practice, then open the refrigerator and jab low into a full one, watching to see white pools form and cascade over the glass shelves beneath.
Next I would find the needlepoint-covered piano bench and painstakingly separate foreground from background. I’d slide my blade along candle edges and scrape the wax shavings into a Ziploc bag. I’d cut through several pairs of pantyhose at once, thereby amputating the legs. I would snip squares from the seats of underpants and stars out of bra cups. I would fringe the shower curtain, skewer bars of soap and carve a Q-tip lengthwise. I’d form small spirals in bath towels so that fingers could point through. I would trim eyelashes very carefully.
I would cut the edges of hardbound books along the center spine because they’re beautiful, and the narrow space between the binding and glued pages fits me perfectly. I’d make anatomically correct paper dolls from brown grocery bags, crosshatch the palms of mittens, and give scalloped haircuts to anyone who wants a new look. I’d double the number of family photographs by slicing them in two. I would shorten the chains that hang from the ceiling’s bare light bulb fixtures and snip bits of carpet to collect in a small glass bowl. I would divide the retractable metal tape measure at regular intervals. I’d make a diagonal incision in the toothpaste tube, rinse myself off and look around for something more.
I would go outside to carve rosebuds horizontally and spiral-cut a watermelon still on the vine. I would engrave infinity signs into aluminum siding, crew cut the paintbrushes and bisect bicycle spokes. I would slit the inside roof of the car to see what’s between fabric and steel and, of course, explore the upholstery. As to the cables under the hood, I would use my discretion. I would open up the garden hose lengthwise, then go down the street.
I would encourage the cracks in sidewalks to continue on their way, help the elderly mow their lawns and de-foam cappuccino. I’d poke peek-a-boo holes in newspapers for rush hour, then carve X’s and O’s into the headstones of dead relatives.
I’d shred the paper covers on the doctor’s examining table into confetti while waiting, and make sieves out of those little plastic specimen cups. I would slice condoms (unoccupied ones) at ¼” intervals, making handy rubber bands. I would cut quarters into quarters.
I would gently coax the hands away from clocks, so we can see their faces better. I’d make Disney-like topiaries throughout city parks, filigree snowballs, wreak havoc with cans of paint and remove the bottoms from Nordstrom Anniversary Sale shopping bags. I would make vestments holey and legal briefs brief. I would trim the sails, making tall ships short. I would deckle the edges of tax returns, split a bottle of Merlot and emancipate violin strings. I would decide when the theatre curtain comes down.
I would trim cumulus clouds away from blue sky to be repositioned at will, like Colorforms. I’d shred ribbons of highways along their dotted yellow lines. I would shape sedimentary rock into giant chess pieces. I would make the Arctic Circle oval, and create a trapezoid from a Greyhound bus windshield. I would turn sunsets into 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles, then perforate the night sky so stars and planets could connect dot-to-dot.
I would cut through red tape. I would cut class, corners, the lights and the mustard. I would cut and not paste. I would snip the thin elastic strings that hold masks in place, penetrate hard hearts, deflate egos, and eliminate class, race and gender barriers once and for all. I would cut the umbilical cord and apron strings. I would sever ties. And then? Well, Venetian blinds have a certain appeal—maybe next I’ll clip the cords between the slats, bottom to top, right side first . . . just to see what would happen.
~ first published in