Sunday, October 26, 2008

Section 2

Below, find the second section of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt. Review, comment, eat a sandwich, enjoy (?) hopefully.


James hasn’t been home since Easter. The pavement looks like my skin as I move away from the thick yellow line and the heat of the train and the sun make my skin feel uncomfortable. It feels red even though it isn’t. I throw my beer in its paper bag out. The bottom is sopping and the brown paper has come apart down there revealing the silver aluminum and red and white coloring of the can. Another Saturday in the city but when I get home James will be there with Eve and most likely Maggie will have arrived. It’s funny that I call it home. It’s not really my home anymore, it certainly isn’t James’, not Maggie’s, and Liza is just learning what home means. But we’ll all be leaving it soon. Everything has to go – even Dad. The house will be hollowed out like some harvest-time fruit until there is only a shell or rind of what once was a life and a family left. There’s no changing Dad’s mind. He doesn’t want a wake and he doesn’t want to stay in the house alone. The cars pass along the road, glinting in the sun. The stained white, orange and green of the 7-11 sign even has a shine to it.

I walk across the track crossing and run my sneaker on the iron of the rails. A shock of electricity could jump up and take you out. In an instant you’re gone just like the universe was created in an instant out of a bang and a ball of light. It’s the same thing. The universe and an individual life. That is a profound thought; mom would’ve liked that. She was stubborn in her religion but she gave philosophy its own fair share. The religious philosophers of course like Aquinas. I remember when she tried to institute a policy of reading it aloud after dinner. Dad wouldn’t have it. He’d push his plate aside, usually clean or maybe with a scrap or two of meat, some remaining juice or blood pooled on the grey ceramic.

“Taking the children to church is one thing, but bringing the church and this religion home is another. I won’t let God and Jesus Christ upset my digestion.”

Mom would nod quietly and press the book closed. Then they’d look at each other from across the table. There was some kind of recognition between them. They always had their secrets. The magic in their relationship. Mom’s Catholic piety and Dad’s unrelenting wit. You’d think they would’ve clashed more often but instead they wove together in a way. A tightly woven band of years. Four children full of tightly woven strands of DNA.

I left my car at the house. Liza got in last night. I picked her up from the train. I’m walking underneath the shade of the maple trees but it’s impossible to avoid the trickling sunlight. Light and dark swaying with the wind. Cicadas are buzzing and a woman is riding her bike up the main drive of the Clark School. The woman’s daughter rides beside her on a pink bike with training wheels. I can see them across one of the fields. The cicadas buzz and buzz while the woman and child ride, their wheels slowly pushing up on the black concrete moving away from me. The white house on my right has a pile of dirt on its front lawn and I can hear someone hammering in the backyard.

Why are cicadas so ugly? Why do they bide the time of the longest days, the season my mother died in? Electricity didn’t overtake her body. It simply left her body to move elsewhere. To move away from me and leave an empty shell of my mother.

I hope Dad isn’t too drunk.

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