IF ONLY A BULL

In our family Murphy was a god, and his law was the eleventh commandment. I often wanted to ask at what moment my childhood ended. Had to be before my twelfth birthday, before the day on which I went from greeter at one of my father’s business parties in our oversized family room, to bartender, with no increase in pay. But I did develop a taste for Southern Comfort, so that was something of benefit. Once I did talk mom into letting me take the terror kids for an ice cream while she carried on her endless quest to replace the one small plate from her Royal Worcester china, never mind that she’d only once used eight place-settings which marked her personal best. But if you had twelve of every other piece, you could hardly have only eleven small plates. She did, I was told years later, finally give up the quest when, reaching for what she thought was the plate of her desires, she knocked over a Wedgewood platter, three large Belleek Vases and a Royal Daulton soup tureen. I had two sons, never saw the need to go to china shops, and the terror kids never married or had families.

GET IN LINE

She knew for a certainty that
the shortest distance from here to there
would be the one route he
was incapable of finding.
It had always been like this,
impatient to get somewhere, he
trying to accommodate her, yet
still finding the most circuitous route.
He was always embarrassed, apologized
profusely until the day the solution appeared.
For the first time she wanted to meander
to get there eventually, to see what
they might find along the way, to stop
for a good reason and for no reason.
And that was the day he discovered
that all you needed to do
was follow a straight line.