Follow my sister, Nina, and me as we make a book together: my writing and her gorgeous inks on paper.

Posts by pia z. ehrhardt

12. It’s Their Town

Posted on May 23, 2020

We don’t have groundhogs, beavers or badgers, but we do have feral hogs. They tear up our levee system, rooting around. Piglets pour out of them in 114 days. They eat meat. They eat their young. Word is that the mob uses them to make bodies disappear. Why can’t they be close to extinction, their lifeline snapped? Instead of cockaded woodpeckers; gopher tortoises; the shore birds, running out of coastline; or Louisiana black bears who give birth in their sleep, awakened from hibernating after 220 days by hungry babies. When the batture floods, driving coyotes into the city, into our neighborhoods. Ring cameras catch them at night wandering like grainy zombies. Our dog, Ella, sleeps on her red cushion, but I hear her stir,…

11. The Citrus Parade

Posted on May 15, 2020

Winter in New Orleans is wet, dry, chilly then mild, which jukes gardens into blooming. Pink and rose camellias, tulip trees, sweet olive, anxious to released from winter prison. They’re so pretty. Only one of our four citrus trees has blossomed. The heavenly smell of orange flower!  They’re never in synch. Pinkish red Cara Cara Navel Oranges. Loose skinned Satsumas. Meyer Lemons. My neighbor had made us a chiffon pie, dense with condensed milk. She froze the lemon juice she didn’t use. That pie was tart and luscious. We vanquished it! Across the street, Malcolm’s letter hedges explode with green growth and cheerful weeds. They spell C I T Y P A R K. For sixteen years, he’s tended to them, waving off paid…

10. Chicken (Part Two)

Posted on May 12, 2020

I’m putting off the shingles vaccine because it hurts your arm and requires a series of two. I’m cutting out dairy, except for cottage cheese and yogurt and melted Brie, because I need the calcium and the smooth mouth feel. I check for lumps in the shower. Most days I walk in the park.  I adjust the sum of weekly glasses of wine to a single digit so that my answer to my internist doesn’t have to be a fudge which is the tasty word for a lie. Calm down, I tell myself. Don’t be afraid of better health, staying upright, of making dinner without my balm, my loyal company, in a long-stemmed glass. You can never drink too little. Live on! I fix…

9. The Color of Hunger

Posted on May 11, 2020

It’s New Year’s Day and the streets look hungover. In the backseat, Malcolm and I have loaded in our French artist friends, Bullet and Stephen. They hold hands and mutter romantic bits we’d like to understand and mutter. Love talk in English sounds infantile. I hold Malcolm’s hand when I don’t need two on the wheel. We are on the way to Brighton Beach. It’s rare for us to travel through New York above ground. We park under the subway trestle and zero in on Tashkent, an Uzbekestani grocery store with a block-long buffet: mountains of cold salads, vats of pink borscht, tender cheese blinchiki, coriander-scented Borodinsky bread, crispy chicken cutlets, dumplings bulging with lamb and onion. Our hunger explodes. The boardwalk is empty…

8. I Played the Queen

Posted on May 5, 2020

I don’t tell Mom what I’m thinking as I look around her dark, musty room. Throw things away, please. What she’s keeping is torn, faded, crumpled, dirty. Another metropolis of Styrofoam cups has risen beside her kitchen sink. Again, she’s stuffing empty cups into the love seat. Does she think they’re hidden? The second sister bought her a pack of Styrofoam cups from Walmart, thinking kindness might outsmart our mother, but the fresh ones are in the cupboard, out of sight, and maybe this is the problem? Our Polish grandmother hoarded. Her basement was a treasure hunt for kids who don’t separate what’s finished from what’s valuable. Nina and I would dress in moth eaten hats and scarves, tarnished costume jewelry, set a table…

7. A World of Shoes

Posted on May 3, 2020

When I sold shoes in college, shoppers would sit in my department to rest their feet. The store owner walked the floor in his double-breasted cashmere blazer because he could afford everything he sold. He walked with his arms crossed over his chest, keeping an eye on us. My friends would stop in. They knew my hours. And I’d put them into shoes they didn’t ask for so the boss would see me work. I needed my own money when my parents stopped paying. I still lived at home. Before classes, while my mother practiced her violin, I babysat my sisters. We read about the unsinkable Pippi Longstocking, whose mother died at birth, whose father was lost at sea. And we watched Sesame Street,…

6. We Shall Set More Plates

Posted on April 25, 2020

In the grocery, I pick fruit out of bins. Raspberries all ship from the same place in California. I grab a fountain drink, let ice cubes plop, plop, bouncing into my squeaky Styrofoam cup. Cabbage the color of amethyst is such a bargain it could be free. A pint of Bluebell ice cream won’t hurt, or the fudge topping I’ll heat and drip, drip, drip. On the meat aisle, Malcolm finds the perfect chuck roast. I can’t think about the animal, her worried mind, her nerves that carry pain. Red means fresh, but red is blood. On the drive home, I spritz our hands with bacteria killer that smells of lavender and freshens. If I were to lose Malcolm, I would curtail eating meat.…

5. Busted

Posted on April 22, 2020

I miss a bikini, my oiled and tanned tummy, staking my claim during maximum sun hours, my towel a piece of property, fenced by sand, the contrast underneath my watch band and silver rings, and where my straps pulled down. I had less patience tanning my back, forgetting to turn my face evenly, right, left, right left. But what a yield, pink shifting into brown, a thinning color, the contrast dialed up by white shorts, a bright yellow tank top. I’m not fat fat, but fatter than my fighting weight, my driver’s license weight. I renewed it soon after I lost my appendix, after I’d lost seventeen pounds and almost my life. Everything fit or bagged. Surviving felt good! If I ate an egg…

4. Cloud Hands

Posted on April 21, 2020

Doing things on the ground used to be natural: somersaulting, crab-walking, scrambling like a centipede. I’d Indian-cross my legs and pop up. Malcolm was amazed. “My legs don’t bend like that,” he’d say. But now if he’s not around to pull me up, I must get on all fours into a supplicant crawl and pray the right, stronger leg works. Staying upright is job one. In the safety of my bathroom, I bend at the knees, lower and raise, with my hand on the bathtub, grunting. Why do sounds of struggle sound ugly? Would yodeling distract my burning thighs? Susan from down the street teaches Tai Chi. She pays a call on me, a private. On the front hall carpet in sock feet, I…

3. Silenzio!

Posted on April 21, 2020

When I see gummy candies at check out, I miss my son. The red cherries on green stems, the peach flavored peaches, blue Smurfs that stain the tongue. Long ago, he dared me to eat sour patch kids. “Just take one taste, Mom.” What an assault on my tender buds. I lean toward Swedish Fish! Are they raspberry? It doesn’t matter. They’re two bites of yum that get stuck in my flipper denture, so I eat them toothless. A few times, I’ve left home without the flipper and didn’t remember until I lisped or smiled. It’s not a bad feeling, to give your mouth more space. “Take care of your teeth,” I tell my son, just so he’ll say “Okay, Mom,” because him calling…