Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
She’s boxed in by sense of duty
responsibility to others
She’s boxed out by sense of duty
responsibility to herself
Her days are spent working out the former
her nights trying to resolve the latter
She dreams of pushing against the sides
but is confused
not sure if she is pushing in or out
She wakes in the middle of the night
in a warm sweat
wonders how long it will take to grow up
Up up up
Until she can step over the walls
Free, able to think outside the box
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Jake lies on his side, watching fat guys shove each other around. “Bring me a beer,” he growls. His guy’s not doing so well. Wanda wonders if he bets money on the wrestlers. Otherwise she can’t see why he gets so excited. She’d like to watch something different sometimes, maybe Dr. Kildare or I Love Lucy, but it doesn’t matter enough to get into an argument.
There’s time enough for that. She has to tell him soon that she’s pregnant, that they’re going to have a baby. She’s not completely sure, but she’s pretty sure. She hasn’t had morning sickness but she also hasn’t had a period since before Christmas. He’s never been that interested in using anything so, maybe he’ll be happy about it, especially if it’s a boy. Maybe he’ll think about getting a house or at least a real apartment.
And when she starts showing, they probably won’t let her waitress anymore. They might let her work in the kitchen for a while but Marvin doesn’t really need any help and neither does the dishwasher. She wonders if the other waitress will give her a baby shower. She wonders what her mother would think, Wanda being only seventeen and all, and not married. She smiles at the thought of what those old church biddies would say if they knew.
Staring into faded bricks,
glare of cheap hotels,
I ache for the smell of my own pillow.
Pack quickly, leave an hour early.
Waiting in a coffee shop
for the airport bus,
the rain begins.
Edging toward an empty table
a frail grey-haired woman
shrinks from the scowl of the waitress,
starts to leave.
“Sit with me,” I offer,
feeling lonely for both of us.
We talk of weather, of cities.
I give her my well-worn map.
She hands me a card,
a man’s name crossed out
hers penciled in.
“If you ever come to Miami
you can stay with me.
If I still have the house,” she adds.
Suddenly she pulls away,
pays her check, hurries out.
“Be careful of the wet streets,” I call.
Finishing my coffee, I leave for home.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Most days she takes the bus back to the apartment but sometimes Marvin, the Negro day cook, offers to drop her off on his way home. He’s older, a quiet man who lives with his sister and brother-in-law in a trailer house out near Carswell AFB. She worries sometimes that Jake might not like it, her riding alone with a black man, but he’s never home before six or seven. She likes Marvin and his quiet ways. He never asks her questions like some of the others. Sometimes she fantasizes about asking him to drop her off at a phone booth but then she remembers that she doesn't know anyone who has a phone.
It seems like a long time since she was a daughter even though it’s only six months since she and Jake drove non-stop through the Texas night. He hadn’t talked much, stopping only for gas and cigarettes. She always went to the bathroom so she wouldn’t have to squat along the highway. He didn’t tell her his name until they were looking for a place to stay.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Starting in mid November, I'll be back at school, filling in for the site coordinator on maternity leave at Ohlone Elementary. I have to admit I'm excited and the money will come in handy as we inch toward completion on my house. It's a great life if you don't weaken. . .
Friday, October 23, 2009
OOOOPS! Not that mole!
Mole Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated among chemists in North America on October 23, between 6:02 AM and 6:02 PM. The time and date are derived from the Avogadro constant, which is approximately 6.02×1023, defining the number of particles (atoms or molecules) in a mole, one of the seven base SI units.
Mole Day originated in an article in The Science Teacher in early 1980s. Inspired by this article, Maurice Oehler, now a retired high school chemistry teacher from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, founded the National Mole Day Foundation.
In the beginning making the missing person report and calling all of her friends and talking to the neighbors gave them hope. Time passed and that hope faded, replaced by numbness and the necessity of getting on with life. Friends quit asking if there was any news. Daisy started first grade and they went back to church twice on Sunday.
It happened so quickly, this disintegration of their life. One minute they’re laughing and playing cards and the next they are frantically searching the house, the barn, the small pond at the back of the cornfield. The Sheriff’s men make plaster molds of the tire tracks that cross the shallow ditch adjacent to the pasture next door. No one says out loud what is on their minds.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Some nights she knows Jake’s stopping at the bar on the way home cause his breath smells tired and salty. He says it’s his boss that makes him but he’s getting home later and later. “Why can’t you come home and get me,” she asks one night. The look on his face makes her turn away and wish she’d just have forgot about it.
“No fuckin’ chance I’m gonna take you in there with me and have those assholes think you’re my daughter. What the hell are you thinkin’?” Jake takes off his belt and throws it across the room. The heavy buckle clunks on heater. He sits on the bed and looks up, shaking his head, then motions Wanda to come lay down. For just a second, she thinks about saying no, but of course she doesn’t.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Each morning Jake leaves the twin bed they share in the garage apartment to shower and dress for work. He refuses her offer to fry eggs, preferring to stop at the diner next to the dry cleaning shop where he got a job the day they drove into town. Sometimes he stops by at noon on his way to deliver the drapes and sofas to the big houses on the East Side. The smell of cleaning fluid makes her dizzy. Sometimes he brings sandwiches but mostly they eat cornflakes with canned milk.
At night they curl into each other on the twin bed to watch Johnny Carson or a movie on the small flickering TV. There’s no phone and no one to call them even if there was one. Sometimes she thinks about the phone booth on the corner by the liquor store and how it might be different if her parent’s had a telephone, how she might call them to let them know she’s ok.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Wanda stands at the kitchen window, leans on the counter to stare at the car lights as they slip past on the highway, praying for a set of headlights to turn down the gravel road that leads to the farm. This wouldn’t be the first time she’d been stood up.
An hour later she gives up and walks out to the front porch to sit on the concrete steps. The western sky melts from blue-pink to blue-black. No moon, the night gives up the heat quickly and a light breeze stirs the grass where the cow lays with her two-week-old calf. If she holds her breath she can hear the soft roar of tires on the highway, just under the drone of cicadas. Looking east again, she sees lights approaching, easing around the bend in the road that keeps the oil tanker trucks from plowing into the front yard.
A two-tone Mercury slides by on the other side of the elm trees that line the front yard. She hears the soft crunch of tires on gravel, watches red triangle-shaped taillights grow smaller, then flash of brake lights, then darkness. A car door opens and closes softly and in the moment of light she sees a man emerge. Without seeing she knows he’s crossed the barbwire fence into the pasture. She looks through the front door into the dining room where her parents sit under a veil of cigarette smoke and laughter, playing canasta with Dave and Jimmie, then walks toward the darkness.
This dream, this recurring dream, always starts with the two of them, he and his new wife, in a car, driving away from a church, straight to a small white-shingled house in a neighborhood of similar houses where Marcie and Bobbie are waiting, dressed in clean clothes, dancing on the lawn with a golden retriever puppy while a yellow tabby watches from the porch.
The dream always ends the same way. Robert awakes just as a large crack is opening, slashing across the yard, gulping down the boy, the girl, the dog, the house, while he and his new wife watch, unable to make a sound, not even a simple “No.”
Blue light edges into the room and six-year-old Bobbie reaches under the bed for the shoebox with holes punched in the lid. Careful not to wake his sister, he slips out of the room and heads outdoors where lizards and toads and other creatures wait their fate.
Marcie forms the ground beef into perfect round patties, places them in the skillet to wait for her father to light the burner. She pulls ketchup and mustard and lettuce from the fridge, sets three places with paper plates and plastic cups, pours Coke into one, dreams of living next door to a Burger King.