graphics mode c r o s s X c o n n e c t previous | next

| main page
| issue contents
| contributors
| e-mail us
   m y    s o n

--- T O B Y   O L S O N

A dream girl in imagination, certainly
     that one could smile
or place a canister on the shelf,
          sugar beside tea, without regret.
Humming, while cooking, swaying in the cleaning,
she's everyone's dear mother,
but for the sex.

Oh Carolina moon, down there it was raining, yet a soft summer rain, and through the foggy window he watched me as I cut her: blood lust or boredom, no more than a canister for the wealth. It's Southern Gothic

A son sires a son. I am growing old watching Guy acting an old actor at the theater; it's his part, and a younger man, his foil, up from the South. But that was Carolina, and she was cooking chili, my father's recipe.

In that moment of regret, I take him down to the lake's shore for reminiscence. . . a perfect mother, days in the country. . . down where he took the girls, even his sister; one thrust her palms into a starry sky: all this prefigured in a magazine. He was just thirteen.

Or he was under the eaves' covers, gazing in at the window or down into a magazine. I was too old for children, and to catch him there, then talk to him, to say nothing of my own machinations and regrets, my active Adam.

A fire burns on the hearth in the cozy cabin. My father sits, an actor, In the chair beside me: "Let's go to the lake's shore in memory." His voice is mine, speaking to Adam, some faltering harmony of ministration.

Sometimes the river is mistaken for a lake, fog on the water, an echo that suggests an oval. The cutting was an accident, the knife slipped at the counter. We were slicing onions, peppers for the chili, and saw Adam looking into a magazine at the window.

Within the play there was another old actor instructing the younger, until the boy was sure of himself in rebellion, obviously: fathers and sons. This wasn't promising. Yet the playwright wrote for actors, and the play lived in performance.

Now I watch the figures thrown on the window, pine candle and juniper, sun's shadows after four days of rain in which the wind was up, the sea lost in foggy mist along the shore: it could have been a river, or a lake.

And in the rain beside the magazine rack, I'd bowed over a child at the super market and stroked his oval head, then saw the lurid limbs of a woman grinning from a slick cover that a son shouldn't see.

She was only cooking chili, we were cutting onions, counting peppers in the glow of a Carolina moon. . . and the child grinned up at me, reminding me: you are too old for children.

Yet the flesh is ancillary to the lurid picture, the sister's a mother, or a dream girl. My father limps to the window, "It's raining," then puts another log on the fire. I see her face before me in the glowing coals, a kind of cut along the thyroid. There's a knocking At the cabin door, it must be Adam. Then my father turns and waves it all away. "Only a tree's limb" in the rising wind, and fog.

she makes a cup of tea for growing pains, interrupting her cleaning, a recipe for reminiscence: days in the country, just a perfect mother and his sister, palms prefigured in a magazine, and the echo of a child's head suggesting an oval, a warm lake or a river's harmony of ministration, down in Carolina, onions in the chili.

There was no dream girl in the play. . . in the playhouse there were plenty. . . yet in an actors' makeup vanity, and the mirror was the audience, lurid shadows on a window, one's face in another, shoulder to shoulder. Then the old actor sires his son and holds against rebellion, obviously, and my father puts another log on the fire, only a tree's limb, and in the glowing coals I see your face before me.

Sometimes the river is mistaken for the sea in summer rain, gulls in from the shore near Harbinger. Report of a sister found in underwear and gothic implications. Adam

from cover to cover: lurid faces of an audience or a mother seen through a mirror.

There were onions on the counter, bell peppers, and a sharp knife. She lifted the tea cup to her lips, a pause in the cleaning, then was glancing out the window.

We were strolling down a twisted path, in fog, to the sea. He held the crime magazine in his hand, mine was on his shoulder.

In the storm's aftermath my father gazes through the cabin window into a starry sky. "This is promising," he says, then turns in the reflected oval like an actor moving to the dying embers. "Would you like to tell me about it?"

Coughs in the audience. The old actor motivates for ancillary judgment: suicide, murder, or the freedom of a son. There's a dramatic silence in which the play is a comedy of indecision. Southern Gothic.

Then it's Adam and I, shoulder to shoulder at the counter, cutting the onions and peppers. There's fog at the window, that crime magazine on the sill.

"Would you like to tell me about it?" It's idyllic.

© crossconnect, inc 1995-2006 |
published in association with the |
university of pennsylvania's kelly writers house |