If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



Thursday, June 27, 2013

He didn’t care for their shitting on his porch. They didn’t care for his passing so close to their young. But it was he who had built the eves wherein the swallows came to nest. In turn, it was they who kept the insects at bay, making evenings tolerable, sunsets worth watching again. There was sense in their compromise, man and bird.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Good Sense

As their investments mounted, the owner’s interest in restoring the old house quickly declined. “We love what you’ve done to the place so far,” they told him, when the house was dried in, its new roof gleaming in the afternoon sun. “We just think…”

     They were kind enough about it, phrased it in such a way that he could almost agree: Spending so much on a place that can’t be lived in or really use for anything at all, didn’t make good sense. It didn’t, either. Acts of love rarely do.

     This is how the past is lost, he thought, loading his tools, discouraged, as much because the owners didn’t care as he couldn’t afford to care. He had a money pit of his own. “I’m sorry,” he told the old house before he left, pressing his hand to its cool brick, listening again to the songs of slaves forged into the clay, the echoes of war, the cries of birth and death.

     How much they were alike, he thought, two faulty old structures, fascinating in all they had survived, unsound and unable to make their own repairs. Fascinating, but not worth the act of charity that might save them from ruin. Good sense. They would never make good sense.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Whole

When Brent returned from the office, the six two by tens he had ordered were already loaded into the bed of his truck. The boards were neatly strapped, Brent saw, and Gilbert the yard man was tacking a red flag to their ends with a staple gun, the Yard’s old Yale towmotor burbling patiently behind him, forks raised and stinking of diesel.

     ‘This all you need?’ Gilbert asked.

     ‘That’ll do it,’ Brent replied, handing him the yard bill. ‘Thanks Gil.’

     ‘Not a problem,’ Gilbert said, climbing back aboard the towmotor.

     From behind the towmotor's tattered seat Gilbert fished out clipboard  onto which he secured Brent's bill.

         'Ya'll stayin' busy?' Brent asked.   

        'Not bad...' Gilbert replied, returning the clipboard. He pushed a lever that lowered the forks with a hiss. Gilbert turned off the Yale's motor then and reclined in the seat as if both he and the day were exhausted. '...considering.'

     They had been suffering a heat spell now for nearly two weeks; triple digit temps,unbearable humidity. Nobody wanted to work. Gilbert stared out over the neighboring pasture and barn lot, to the rising sun, which was just cresting a faraway line of richly green trees. He removed his cap and slowly ran his free hand over his thinning scalp, glistening with persperation.

     ‘Gonna be hot again today,’ Gilbert warned, adjusting his cap back.

     Brent leaned against the cool metal of his truck. He looked to the sunrise, which seemed to him somehow dulled by the moisture already thick in the air. Then turned back to Gilbert, perched luxuriously there on the old towmotor, still transfixed by the dawn.

     If some were the canopy, glorious and green; some the limbs, trunk, taproot and so on; then they were the feeders, Brent thought, he and Gilbert, the tiny hair-like roots, forever mired in clay, struggling daily for the most meager of sustenance, so distant from anything celebrated as to be forgotten.

     Brent had never been content as a feeder, with simply being integral to the whole. He had crawled his way to the surface dozens of times over the years, but was always pruned down or mowed over before he could become established. He wondered if Gilbert had ever seen the sun, so to speak, ever had the desire to bloom in spring. Gilbert always seemed so content with his place in the system, grateful even.

     Maybe this yard job was Gilbert’s spring, Brent thought, his glorious canopy.

     ‘It sure is,’ Brent agreed, sweat building on his forehead.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Measuring for Floors

“He didn’t like anyone messing with his things,” she tells me of her late husband as I measure his bedroom. She is eighty-six, attached to a cane she calls, “Hoss”.
          They had separate bedrooms, one at either end of a narrow, carpeted hall. Hers, which I have already measured, was bright and spring-like, while his is a darkly paneled trophy case. If this had been from the beginning, I didn’t ask—not her, not her son. She had been a nurse at one time, owned a convalescent home. Late hours might have made the separation a necessity. He had had a stroke, too. Maybe he had become bedridden—impossible to sleep with. She mentioned that he had lost control of his mouth and drooled terribly. Maybe she had built this shrine in his final days to help him, and her possibly, hold on to those things that had been best about him.

          In the hallway separating the two rooms, I run my tape along the baseboard. She stands behind me in the doorway of her late husband’s bedroom, Hoss, her cane, planted firmly in front of her. “He liked everything just so,” she says. There’s no sorrow in her eyes, no reminiscence. She wears the smile of one who has seen plenty of slow dying, one who knows the odds are stacked against her now and that the bedroom she sleeps in is separated by much more than a carpeted hallway.

          “You stay out of my room,” she says, imitating her husband’s stroke-contorted voice. “That was the last thing he told me.”

          She closes the door behind her.

   “He didn’t like anyone messing with his things.”                                                                              

Sunday, June 9, 2013

On The Deck

          In the end they stayed until seven o’clock, as they had feared, the deck incomplete. Boards for the handrail had been ordered wrong and with no lumber yards open, they had no choice but to load their tools. They would finish on Monday. The younger of the two, the one who had bid the job and ordered the handrails wrong, was none too pleased, cussing his mistake as they picked up. ‘It happens to the best of them,’ the older said, ‘We’ll still do alright.’
         They had hoped to finish in a day. The money was still good, but that would have sweetened the deal. They seemed cursed, however, to always underestimate material, time. For them, there were no perfect jobs where everything went as planned.
          Their completed work was always perfect though, beautiful and bragged upon. In some sense this was a reward. But it was a reward quickly forgotten in the midst of these frustrations, these perceived inadequacies. They climbed into the truck, the older driving. ‘I need a beer,’ the younger said, adjusting the air to cool his sunburned skin. ‘I hear ya,’ the older replied. And it was in that direction they went.