Iris Tree Smokes Hashish, 1916 by Benjamin Goluboff & Mark Luebbers

That was the summer at Bognor, back in the dunes, when Iris at nineteen held in Nancy Manners’ Kirby Grips a tiny smoldering ember of hashish wrapped in a strip of The Telegraph (Father called it The Tory-graph), inhaled deeply and waited, as Nancy vomited on the sand, for what would come.

Some aspirant boy had bought it for them from an Algerian at the docks, and Iris was expecting arabesques, but what came, along with the sense that her peripheral vision had contracted, was a series of aperçus.

First, that unlike sexual experience, which was a wanting that could result in a having, aesthetic experience was a wanting of what never could be had.

Also, that the odds against living the dreary conventional life of her time, place, and class were so laughably, implausibly bad, that her own escape must be treasured—consciously, actively, treasured—for for the singularity it was.

Further, that time was inescapably subjective, that growing up was a growing away, and that her hair was certainly her best feature.

These and a good lot of rubbish that only made sense at the time.

Benjamin Goluboff teaches English at Lake Forest College. He’s placed stories, essays, and poems in many small-press journals. You can read some of them here:

Mark Luebbers teaches English at the Cincinnati Country Day School. Three of Mark and Ben’s poems about jazz pianist Bill Evans will appear this year in THEY SAID: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing.