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Month: June 2009

The last left leg in town


Spring. In this year’s wind the tips of our enormous poplars bend a little closer to earth.

The house is massive, a blued white under the shade of the poplars. It is something of the flagship manse of the old St Bonaventure quarter. Stately and oldgrowth, it’s porches and balconies conjure breezes of a lifetime’s empty Sundays. Quilts and bedpillows puff out cool trapped night air, dust the skin like talcum. Toilet seats are warm and careworn. Drapes lift, lift, lift, as if suspended on wafts of ghostly parlor piano. Pantry smells of distant childhood pies still fumigate the world of urgency. Drift, puff, ssshh. Sensations bind themselves seamlessly together, into a self-generative absolute of leisure, accompaniable by any beverage.

Rilka walks down the upstairs hall, shaking sandalwood extract from a vial into the empty rooms.

Armed with my brother-in-law’s Skilsaw sometimes I sit on the eastern eave these spring evenings and plot holes in the roof. Four holes, for a bank of slender skylights in my attic study. I often sit there well after dark, just me and the saw, occasionally a beer. There is a peace in the distance above the neighborhood, three stories and a sizable tumble away from the white trash kids fighting their dogs.

The neighborhood is no longer excellent. But from the roof the drama is good.

An elderly woman, wasted and pale, has been seen browsing through our alley trashcans late Sunday nights. I’d be willing to bet my whole left leg that it is my mother.

My mother gave us the house, or is letting us use it, along with the furniture, the blue china, the old Bessie Smith 78s. She said that she is at a period in her life where she no longer wants secure living arrangements. The principles of what this involves have yet to be played out. She called this week and said Pragmatism is a smile from the devil’s anus. I waited. She still has her two poodles, and I could hear them nearby, she was on the floor with them maybe and I could hear them and their miniaturized pants and growls like they were fighting over her decomposing legs.

I asked her if she was using her legs yet but she was already hanging up.