Last night the actors trod the boards carrying us on their backs. This wasn’t Pittsburgh but we believed it so. We’ve never been to the Hill but we walked its blighted streets. In the mirror we are white, but not last evening. He is five years dead but last night August Wilson escorted us to a place we had never imagined, and we were all too glad to visit.
I’ve always imagined that one of these nights I’d see my mother’s ghost. I would welcome the sight welcome she that bore me, not she that stepped in in a way,absolving my birth mother of her sin, while assuming adopting me would make her complete.
She hasn’t visited yet, neither has done so, but I hold out hope, it is after all the last to go, and I do hear her voice, faint and all too distant, sounding very much like my own one instant and then no more than a faint whisper in retreat.
I don’t need a long conversation, a few words would more than suffice, but some at least, a child should in advancing age hear the sound of a mother’s voice, if only to find solace in the fact that her choice to yield the child was made from love not defeat.
Of course, she’s sitting there, calmly, staring off onto space. She has to know something is amiss, no one has come to visit her in days, but she knows that whenever, if ever, whatever it is that is happening is finally over, that they will once again return, stare at her, wonder aloud and silently why she is smiling, and she will as always say nothing, for she was once told that it is better always to leave them wanting more.
Tomorrow Paris will count its newest dead, and the hospitals will pray the tide of bodies has been stemmed, or diminished and none of those in the battle will pause and consider DaVinci’s lady imprisoned forever in her sterile room, an eternal prisoner.
First published in Dreich, Issue 20, Autumn 2020 (Scotland)
He expects that she will stop by and visit. This is a perfectly reasonable expectation though he knows she behaves as she chooses and that is not always in accordance with any standards of reason. Nevertheless, he waits for her visit which doesn’t happen. He will later get the courage to ask her why, she will say I had friends I had to see, and when he says “you were three miles away,” she will say, “but I had limited time to be there.” Months later she will ask him to come visit. He will say it’s a two hour, expensive flight and he can’t take the time away from work. She will remind him in her harshest voice that she won’t be around forever, that a visit even a short one, is the least a son can do for a mother, and when he reminds her that she couldn’t visit when she was there three miles away, she’ll say, “that was different I had friends I simply had to see”
I am compiling a list, ever so slowly, of places I still want to visit, and you may be surprised to find that Paris, London and Madrid are nowhere to be found.
It isn’t that they lack beauty, charm and countless things to see and do, it is simply that they have been usurped by other places commanding my attention.
I’ve been to Zeeb and Pawpaw, if driving by on the interstate counts, and I am certain in Michigan it must, but I do need a good laugh at times, and Yeehaw Junction just might satisfy my need perfectly, and, failing that, there is always Surprise and Carefree, and if I want to lose myself for a while Nowhere is waiting patiently for me, although I have heard it’s a bit hard to find.
No, what I really need is Happy Corner, and from there, as I age I know I must eventually, end up in Truth or Consequences.
I’ll be there soon, so hang in there just a bit longer. I do want to meet the beautiful young woman you mentioned in our calls, or is there more than one, because while your vision is supposed to be good, it seems almost all women younger than a certain ever-increasing age are now beautiful to you. I don’t want to tell you I’m coming, you’d forget anyway, and it could agitate you, so I’ll just show up and hope you remember me or can cover well, and we’ll visit. I know the week after we see each other you’ll ask when I’m coming to see you, and like I have for years, I’ll say, “Soon, dad” and I know you’ll be smiling in anticipation.