Myth or Mom?

Honorable Mention:  Fall, 2011

Mom was perfect from day start till shut eye. I can’t mourn her:  her myth remains, clogging my mind like milfoil. The woman, not my mother, died.

She willed good things to happen, healed wounds with a kiss, never lost her cool.  She exuded control, and I believed it of her, even after I saw her face without her teeth or commanding smile.

At twenty-three, sans my wisdom teeth, I passed a doorway in a huge medical center, a woman’s face spotlighted in the operating chair, visible because the dentist leaned away.

“Mom?!”

Her hand flashed up to hide the unmade bed of her mouth, the unguarded pink walls of her gums, stretched between two or three isolated teeth.

She was instantly in tears.

It was my fault.  I felt that terrible comfortable nausea of knowing I’d screwed up, just not how.

So I resorted to mythic beauty.

Until today.

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A Little Help?

               pubbed here 

Hey, is anyone out there a chiropractor?

I think I’m going to need you to come over.  My shoulder is so bad I can’t even tuck in my shirt, anymore.  Well, I can, but it hurts like bulldozers and that scares me.  Don’t ask me to reach the Wheaties.  In fact, if I don’t get better soon, we’ll have to move everything down a notch:  the coffee cups, the Frosted Flakes, the juice glasses; you know.

And we don’t drive.

I started needing a doctor when the roof leaked.  Mid-morning, Wednesday, my mom was cleaning up the water from the leak in the kitchen, where what looks like a tiny orange freckle in the ceiling feeds the Great Lake, she calls it, right in front of the fridge.

She bent down to wipe it, when her feet started going out and she sat down hard, just missing one of the cats.  Momma’s built for town, you might say, so I thought somebody had thrown a boulder against the house.  When I found her I was on my way to yell at the neighbor kids again.  She was clutching her robe shut and missing a slipper, where four little toe robins were begging from a big hooky-beak momma toe.  Her eyes were still big with pain, while she accidentally did fat lady yoga.

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Bull Headed

If I squinted, the farm looked pretty much the same as it had when I left, 9 years ago, blinking back tears. The pond had shrunk; the bluegrass had grown longer and gone to seed.  The fence lay halfway down.

Frost bleached the roof, yet no smoke rose from the chimney of our farmhouse on the knoll.  The front field that the goats used to clear was now overgrown with larkspur, ragwort and blackberry.  No sign of livestock, chicken or ducks.  The horse barn was leaning at an odd angle, as though reeling from a strong wind.  Between the cow barn and the house, the dust seemed as untracked as the snow-powdered mountainsides of the Rockies I had just seen day before yesterday from the train.

I walked over to the corner of the cow barn.  The tall splints Pa and I had fashioned were still in place, still straight.

I remembered the young black bull, Napoleon, no higher than Pa’s shoulder, in a sudden burst charging at the big Hereford bull that was temporarily sharing his pen.  When the other bull leapt out of the way, Napoleon’s amazing forehead had cracked the eight-inch square post that formed the corner of the barn up to the hayloft; hence the splint.

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