AS SHE REMINDS HIM

he’s not a bird eating fish or worms see how frantically he spades without weeding how voraciously he climbs out on the seeded maple twigs *   *   * incisor domestica rodentia in residence *   *   * a squirrel with a martini too much     too often fog in treetops     before the wind blows how     do sparrows […]

DREYS WITHOUT LICHEN

stack neatly three cords of stove wood for kitchen heating (ache, diddly ache) with no idea how much they’ll need for winter learn to use a variable-speed screwdriver, far from expertly, while hanging drywall and doors (ache, diddly ache) the plumbers finally show for a day installing a new boiler just before the season’s first […]

AWAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS

With Christmas break, they were soon pulled apart. Call me, write me, we’ll be back together in no time. In an unbearably long anticipation.

In the next-door apartment, a sadist beat the tar out of a wailing baby: “Louder, you miserable bastard, I want to hear it hurt!” Like dropping a cat down the sewer. In those days, you didn’t call the police or social workers.

Some things shift for the better. In Aunt Berthanna’s hallway, purple vase hoarded who knew what mementos.

Ah! Home! A refrigerator filled with plastic. The disordering of her “DORN!” or worse yet, “DORN LUCAS!” yelled up that stairwell had conditioned him to cringe even when someone cried out his surname “MACKENZIE! DORN MACKENZIE!” in a cranky mothers’ tone. If it’s so almighty important, let her come to him. She demanded he interrupt his schoolwork, the term papers and final exams due immediately on his return to campus, dash downstairs, listen to her complaint, then run to the basement for a can of string beans or to the attic for an empty hat box. He saw how she’d rather watch soap operas than her own life or chat away precious hours with self-defeating apologies, while ignoring answers square before herself. He and his contemporaries were determined not to become like their parents. Never!

Fortunately, there was mail, for this was a time when long-distance phoning was prohibitively expensive for anything but the shortest conversations. The kid and Pepper’s imaginations took flight, unhindered by vocal tone, twitches, or embarrassing pauses. Sometimes they even achieved acrobatics of phrasing and mental doodling normal speech foreclosed. Had they been able to keep our relationship at this epistolary level, all might have remained, well, nearly divine. Of course, most people require their saints to come with flesh attached. The kid missed his Pepper and her endless supply of kisses. Nothing was more real than that.

~*~

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ALWAYS SOMETHING

1 a decrepit mess / pit put them away a cat, a dog, an auto executioner gone, finally, by dawn desperate houses plunked down in rock face where will everyone live? 2 Warren Farm’s disastrous pick-your-own corn experiment DeMerritt Hill Farm now owned by New York City refugees who need to make the mortgage while […]