God sits at his easel, brush in hand and thinks about the butterfly alighting on the oak. This man would rather paint the nightmare of hell, but he has been cast out and his memory has grown dim. He remembers being a small child amused by the worm peering from soil in a fresh rain and how when he split it, both halves would slither away in opposite directions. Now he rocks in the chair and watches night fall and shatter on the winter ground.
First Appeared in Medicinal Purposes: A Literary Review, Vol. 1, No. 6, Spring 1997.
My younger step-siblings had it easy once our father made seriouis money, for then my mother decided we needed a live in housekeeper, one who could cook, clean and take care of all those things domestic.
So my siblings had only to put their dishes near the sink, their laundry down the chute, and keep their rooms marginally tidy.
I had missed most of that when I was their age and father kept us afloat with nothing to spare, so I knew how to wash dishes, how to run a load of laundry, skills that served me well when Uncle Sam gave me KP duty, and waist deep in dishes and pots I imagined how my siblings might fare in that situation for I needed a good laugh then.
Stevie and I were probably eight sitting on the front stoop of our flat, he the only one in third grade smaller than me. There was no snow to be seen, none in the sky, none on the frozen and still patchy lawn, just the wind of an always cold December day. Christmas is coming, I said aren’t you excited, with all the gifts. Stevie smiled, they’re always great but maybe this year I’ll finally meet Santa. I laughed, lacking the heart to shatter an infantile dream. Do you buy into the sled and reindeer thing, or does he come more by way of magic. Of course it’s the sled, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had some pretty good jet engines. And you think he comes down the chimney I asked. We don’t have one, you know that so he must use a back window, the one where I broke the lock last summer when we were spies. He looked momentarily sad, you don’t have anything like Santa, although you get lots of neat gifts, just not all at once. At least eight, most years more but you’re right we have no Santa, but we have something even better. Better how, what could be better? Each year at Passover, Elijah comes in during our Seder I don’t see him but we have to open the door for him during dinner. Does he bring you anything? He’s not like that, he just comes all old and bearded, and before you can even see him he’s gone again, probably next door at the Goldstein’s or maybe with Larry Finkel, though his mom can’t cook very well. So what’s he do, this Elijah? Not much, I admitted, but he does have a drinking problem.
First Published in Friends & Friendship Vol. 1, The Poet, 2021
He says he has found a treasure trove of home movies 8mm film in small metal cans, the sprocket holes intact for the most part, my childhood I thought captured on 35mm slides that I am too cheap to pay to have digitized, my adoptive parents ill at ease with a camera assuming always back lighting was preferable, and I admit it was nice to be an angel or at least so my perpetual halo allows me to claim.
But we have no projector and given his photographic skills, his cinematographic ones suggest a black and white zombie film of embarrassment, but I tell him thanks and imagine several uses for the circular metal cans.