Five Senses Reviews


5 Interview with Noy Holland  


In which words were administered to Noy Holland and her off-the-cuff responses follow.



5¢: Pisco Sour

NH: Everybody ought to have one. Everybody ought to have a month of one like the pasta years of the short-person days, and stay out swinging in the hips until the sun lifts up and the wind whips to froth the Beagle Channel. They are sourer than anything but from which side of the cordillera do they come? That is one swell word, cordillera—two L’s to the wind, spalling rock. Sweat and stink and salsa. Mariposa. Muñeca. Mariposa, come dance with me.

5¢: Barber

NH: I lived above one once—not likely. I loved a boy who lived above one once. I really did. My hair was like an animal between us in the bed. Smell of tonic, a tiny window. Until at last he said, “Go. Now. Go.” I never did.

5¢: Virga

NH: Too dry below for the rain to come down. It came down in a veil. They seeded the clouds. We were on the plateau, my father and I, a treat for me, with a kite. The plateau was ash compacted, the water good for drinking another two miles down. I was thirsty. Sangre de Cristo—the illustrious Blood of Christ mountains. Men rode the mountains on horseback for days, my father among them, looking for a lost Cub Scout. Never found. Never sure was this dream or thinking. The wind caught the kite. The kite swept me off my feet. How can that be? But we say so. It swept me off my feet. Get back on your feet. I was off them. The wind would slap me into the mountain. It would shred my legs on the piñons. I never thought, let go. It was a red reel the kite-string was spun on as hefty as the handles of my trike. I held the reel hard. The line burned off the reel. The rain couldn’t get to the ground.

5¢: Feral

NH: I thought feral was any four-legger who had had its tail sawed off—because CM Boone and my aunt Lois had a manx that tried to scratch my eyes out. I ate a farmer’s dozen ears of corn from her patch, and threw up beets in my napkin. CM ended badly. My bird dog ended badly—my liver-spotted Christa with the pegged tail. They dragged the feral off to labs to lop their forelimbs off. For months, they blew smoke in their faces to see if smoking dogs got a cancer. They harvested lobes in the brain. Vivisection. Abbatoir. My dog struggled home clubbed and gorged with meat and seized up and died. That was science calling.

5¢: Cowlick

NH: Fernando Botero’s son died in his hands, I was told, and every painting after that looked mournful. Everywhere we look is what we’ve lost: The boy’s face was a pig’s, was a dog’s, was a cow’s. The fat man’s on the caballo. Their faces were as big as dinner plates—same face. Same teensy pink meringue of a mouth. Some foods are better licked than eaten, as anybody knows.


Noy Holland is the author of The Spectacle of the Body, and What Begins with Bird. She is married to the writer Sam Michel.