Sunday, March 6, 2011

Slippery Rocks

Time does in fact pass. If you have any doubts, wait with me. We'll sit by and see.

I don't have much to say about this, except to sadly bring you into the fold. She slowly slips from my grasp and my pretty metaphors are like broken ribs. We speak by phone on Sundays as always, and her letters arrive every Wednesday. Her care is obvious, underlining dates and repeating passages we'd already discussed. She is fading. The sun sets and there is no dawn. Wine becomes a compulsion.

She met my dad on a work trip with the Quaker church to the state mental hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico back in the 1950s. He was an orderly in the hospital, but he also taught music. Fifty years later, I traveled to Chama and Las Vegas, and patients from the hospital still remembered the sounds of angels drifting on the breeze over the little desert town. Mom returned to her home in Nebraska to tell her parents, "I met the most wonderful man in the state mental hospital!" They were concerned.

Friday, February 18, 2011

In the Headlights

This is where it began, at my daddy's feet. The boy. The soft flesh of his face and back is still unmarked by the belt and by the patient years that would soften the scars and rub his skin thin and blue as tissue. The young boy's heart is fresh and green, but already it is exhausted, beating its way relentlessly forward, relentlessly forward. He knows to fear what he cannot see, and he cannot see anything at all. He is falling backwards and reaching, flailing, terrified for what is already gone. He has love affairs with chickens and dogs and backyard bushes, but humans are elusive. In gym class, they pin him to the wall behind the bleachers and take great pleasure in their cruelty. He stops short when he sees the words Harmful or deadly if swallowed. By twelve, he is eighty.