at the reddening
of my fear.
Hey, pals. The interview thing over at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads is round-robin, so after my interview with Grace, I found myself with the opportunity to conduct an interview of my own. I picked someone very new to me, who's as different in writing style as I could imagine. Please go over and meet Shawnacy! She's purely awesome.
he called out
what are we doing to foster unity?
the crowd responded, mumbling, crying,
some even with real tears.
and then a siren, from the trenches: our voices!
real! all of us, united!
the people, united, can never be defeated!
a groundswell of cheering faded to hushed worries
until he asked again
so what about unity? what will we do?
i noted her reddened cheeks & smudged eyeliner
as she leaned in close to stage-whisper:
united? sure. so long as he keeps his hands off my ass.
the words opened in greeting
to the padfooting traveler,
weary-heeled, solace seeking--
the words opened in greeting.
why is peace so fleeting,
cleaved to heart's unraveler?
the words opened in greeting
for the padfooted traveler.
I'll be why you stay. Stay here, Marie. I'll be why you stay.
Marie opened her eyes; there was Frank. What is going on here? Rivers of my memory, keep you forever gentle on my mind... was I dreaming?
“You okay, Marie? Hey, Marie?”
Her eyes focused. She was there, on her swing on Frank's porch. It was hot as hell. Marie smacked a mosquito on her thigh and took a sip of the iced tea Frank proffered. “I'm fine, Frank. I'm just thinking, that's all.”
“Yeah, Marie?” Frank took a seat next to her on the swing. “What're your thoughts, then?”
She considered for a moment, looking down at her own hands on her bare lap next to Frank's hand and his own bare lap. She raised her left hand to her temple and brushed a wayward hair behind her ear, then gently brushed his hand with the back of hers. Frank's hand grasped hers, enclosing it completely, entwining his fingers through her own. She caught her breath.
“Well, Frank, I heard you ask me if my decision is right. About selling the house, I think you meant.” She paused as he gently squeezed her hand. “And I think I heard you say that you wanted me to stay. Did I hear you right?”
“Look at me, Marie.” He touched her chin with his free hand. She felt her body tense a little as he nudged her face toward his. Ah, he's never touched me like that before. She raised her eyes to Frank's. “Marie, I care for you. I want you to stay here. There's no life for you at that damn nursing home place, you'll die there. What on earth is Sharon thinking? You belong here, on the river. You belong here, with me.” Marie watched his lips thin as he gulped and then open again.
“I love you, Marie. I've always loved you. Please stay.”
Am I still dreaming? “Frank, am I dreaming? I swear you just said you've always loved me.”
“This is real, Marie. I love you. You can't go.”
She fumbled with her hands, with his hand holding hers. “Well, huh. Well, Frank. Huh. Isn't this a pickle we have ourselves in, then.”
“A pickle, Marie? How so? From my perspective, it's pretty free. I feel free, Marie.” He squeezed her hand again.
Marie pulled her robe over her far shoulder, adjusting herself just slightly closer to Frank. She felt the electricity of Frank's bare upper arm just a hair away from hers, and a charge of something in her lower abdomen that she couldn't quite identify. She crossed her right leg over her left, her foot grazing Frank's calf. Why do I keep touching him like that? Behave, Marie.
“Well, it's complicated, Frank. It's not so easy, you know. I can't just up and say oops, I changed my mind, I'm staying. It's a complex problem.” Marie looked down. Why does he keep staring right at my face like that?
“What's so complex, Marie? You're a grown woman, for chrissake. You just tell young Sharon that you're staying in your own house and she should mind her own damn business because you can take care of yourself. Right?” Huh, Frank's rather indignant about this.
“All right, Frank, calm down, now. I can sure as hell take care of myself. We both know that. It's just that Sharon's put down a deposit over there. It can't be refunded. She'll be furious, Frank, it's a lot of money. And I surely can't pay her back for this, I'm on a fixed income as I am sure you know. It feels like a done deal, this thing.”
Frank shifted, sat taller, grabbed both of her hands and held them firmly on his lap. His naked lap, huh. “Marie, what are you talking about? A done deal? You sound like someone I've never met before. Why are you conceding this thing?” He squeezed her hands too tightly, but she did not move, just stared at him as he continued.
“You are the strongest woman I know. Your niece is wrong, and you should question her motives, to tell the truth. You have no business going to that godforsaken death's runway, I don't care HOW much money she threw away trying to get you to go there! Why is she pushing you like this? You belong here! I want you here, for damn sure. I want you, Marie. And you want to be here, at the river, in your house, it's your home, with me, you know it....” He coughed and his words trailed off, but Frank pulled Marie to him, then his arms were wrapped around her, his face in her hair.
“Frank.” She relaxed into his embrace, turned her face to his neck. Breathe, Marie. “Frank. Okay. Frank.” He released her and she sat tall again. “Okay, Frank. I... I love you, too. I love you, Frank. Okay?”
He looked at her. She felt her cheeks redden under his gaze but kept her head up and reached for his hand. Frank's face broke with a smile as wide as the Ohio River. He threw his head back and laughed, that rollicking laugh from their youth. Marie beamed back at him.
“Now what, though? Now what are we gonna do? Here we are, this is nice, and how do we resolve this?” Marie's brow knitted even as the rest of her broke out in gooseflesh.
“Marie, you stay right where you are, where you belong. I'm moving in with you.”
“Aw, Frank, that's a bit to adjust to, but aw... that's very nice to think about.”
They sat, hand in hand. Frank rocked the swing slightly. Marie became aware again of the breeze and the sounds of the river. Zeeeeeee... thwack! “Dammit.” And the sounds of the mosquitoes. Marie leaned her head against Frank's chest. She could hear his heartbeat, or feel it inside her. Or was that her own?
“But Frank, if you move in with me, we won't have this. We won't have our porch.”
My prompt for the Indie Ink writing challenge this week came from PrincessDarDar, who prompted me thusly: "Describe a complex problem, the solution, and how you arrived to the solution." I feel like I cheated by solving one problem and raising another, but all problems will be resolved! You just gotta keep on reading, as they say.
I prompted Tara Roberts this week: "Mars Attacks." Her very compelling response is here: Visitation.
Finally, this here story is actually Chapter Four in a work-in-progress story called Watching the River Go By. If you're interested, you can read the earlier chapters here: (1) watching the river go by, (2) angry wasps & juicy plums, and (3) the rivers of my memory.
As Briana climbed down,each footfall grabbed herin joltingknife-like murderousness.Not only pretending.Quick! Run!Stop the unbridled velocity!While xenophobes, you zealots,are bitter charlatans,does every fool go hard?I just know love--mad, needy, or poor--quickly rebounds, soaringtriumphantlyunless vexed withxanthous yellow zoster.All Briana can doexcept favoring God's hell,is juxtapose kindnesslike mystic nirvanaover politics,quietly regarding small talkunder volcano words.Xenolithic.Your zaftig aurabelies celestial designeagerly flowinggently haranguingin joining knowledge.Lost men never once ponderedquiet reality.She trusts universally,violent,with xena-yearning zeitgeist.
Oh, my word. This week for the Indie Ink writing challenge, my lovely friend Jason Hughes gave me this special doozy of a prompt he has been saving just for yours truly: "Starting with the letter A, every next word should start with the next letter of the alphabet. You *must* cycle the alphabet at least four times, but you may continue further...." I stopped at four, but this was fun and I would totally try it again. Thanks, Jason!
the egg in the nest
what do i live in--
what guards me, what protects me?
my home is comfy.
what keeps you alive?
what lives high up in the air?
it's good for the earth.
the bird eats the elephant
what flies, what chirps & what eats
big floppy grey ears.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Adele asked, straightening Trevor's collar and looking directly into his almond eyes. "It's your birthday, sweetness, don't you want to do something special? Something just for you?"
"This is for me, Mama, it is special. I haven't seen him in a while and I want to see him on my birthday."
Trevor was turning eight today. For the past two years, he had been the man of the house. What he said, therefore, went. He wanted to go and visit his father, and that was that.
"All right then, love, we'll go. When you all have finished your lunch, we'll take Calvin and Adaria over to your Gramma's, and we'll go."
Trevor finished his noodles and carefully took his plate and fork to the sink to be washed. He folded his napkin and placed it on the mat for dinner. He watched his younger siblings finishing their macaroni and beans. "Hey Cal, can you eat please? Pay attention to your lunch, little man. I got someplace to go, let's get a move on."
Eventually, lunch was done, everyone had used the potty, socks and shoes were on and tied, toys were chosen for the visit with Gramma, jackets were donned, and everyone was out the door. Trevor kicked a rock up the sidewalk as they walked; when it disappeared down a storm drain, he looked up ahead at his mother.
Holding little Adaria's hand, Adele carried herself, it seemed to Trevor, like a queen. She was tall and lean, her hair always just right. She was beautiful and he loved her. He wondered why she never wore a crown. He ran forward and touched her empty hand lightly; she spun around and looked at him. "Aw, there you are, my birthday boy. What you doing now?" Trevor beamed at her and fell back, matching his gait with Calvin's.
Three city blocks later and two flights up, they found Gramma watering her begonias and watching Oprah. "There's my angels! C'mon, Gramma got some sugar for both of you." Adele released the little ones to her mother's care and edged toward the door. "Oh my love, my Trevs, happy birthday to you! When you come back I'll have a treat for you." She took Trevor's cheeks in her hands and kissed his head. "See you in a bit."
A long look passed between the two women as Trevor adjusted his backpack and headed for the door. "Thank you, Gramma. I'm eight now, you know. I'll see you after I visit with my Daddy."
Trevor heard his grandmother, though she tried to keep it under her breath. "Why aren't you giving him a birthday party, that boy carries enough. Now this! It isn't right." Adele flinched at her mother's tone and retreated.
"Let's go then, Trevor, baby."
"Gramma? I'm doing fine. I am having a very good birthday." Trevor held the door for his mother.
The bus trip from Trafford to downtown seemed to take forever. So many stops, so many people. Trevor sat right up next to his mother, watching. When a woman with sweet breath leaned close to his face and said "What a cute little boy you are!" he shrank from her and disappeared inside his mother's sweater. I am invisible, he thought, I have the invisibility cloak, like my Daddy.
By the time they changed buses twice and finally made it down Ohio River Boulevard to the SCI Pittsburgh facility, it was well past 3:00. Adele pushed Trevor forward. "Visiting hours are only until 4, baby, let's go faster," and together they sprinted down Beaver Avenue to the main entrance.
As they walked down the ramp to the front doors, Trevor read the sign that he had long ago committed to memory. He thought about it every day: "State Correctional Institution, Pittsburgh." What did that mean, "Correctional Institution," anyway? Wasn't this a jail? They navigated the revolving doors and the path to the front window.
"Your business? ID, please." Trevor watched the attendant as she accepted his mother's license and began to write out visitor badges for both of them. "Inmate's name, please?"
"Henry Simmons. Henry Francis Simmons." Trevor noted the higher than usual pitch of his mother's voice.
"Hang on a sec." The attendant, Trevor realized, was in uniform and had a gun on her belt. Is she a police officer? Maybe a guard? Maybe she will take us to the room to see Daddy. "Eh, sorry, ma'am, but he's not here." Trevor jumped. Not here?
"What do you mean, he's not here?" Adele's voice cracked and got louder with each word. "Not here?!"
"Yeah, lady, he was transferred up to Rockview a few weeks ago."
"A few weeks ago! Rockview? Where is that!" Trevor stared. "He's my husband, shouldn't I have known, shouldn't I have been notified or something?" Adele's voice trailed as Trevor studied her face. He reached for her hand and gripped it hard with both of his.
"Yeah, whatever. He must have really fucked up. Take it up with the super, that's all you got. That's where he is, lady. Rockview. Bellefonte. Nice up there, farm program and all. Next!"
Adele jerked away from the window and walked a few paces; she sank to the floor next to a water fountain. Her head on her knees, she buried her face in her sweater to muffle her sobbing.
Trevor stood, his legs pressed hard against her side, his hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Mama. Oh, don't worry. Mama?"
Adele allowed one sob to escape, and one deep breath in. "Trevor? Baby. Oh, baby, I wanted something different for your birthday."
For my birthday. Right, he was eight. He was the man of the house. Straighten up, then.
"Let's go, Mama. Let's go home."
My pal Lance of My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog prompted me to write "for his birthday." Thanks, Lance.
Hey everyone! I managed to translate Grace's showoff rondelet! WHEW. No worries, my friends, lovers of poetry all, non-speakers of French, here you go:
Hey, Just Today's Folly
by Grace O'Malley (a.k.a. Pirate Grace)
Hey, Just Today's Folly
by Grace O'Malley (a.k.a. Pirate Grace)
It was my fault
the river arrived rapidly.
It was my fault
you wondered about my milky undergarments.
You had the world captive!
The inexplicable bourbon?
It was my fault.