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   r i d e

--- J O H N   P A R R A S

My son's eyes are like the bottom of the coffee pot; my son's eyes are like the bottom of the sky. Does the sky have a bottom? I have been there. Eyes driving tired when they saw that girl standing by the roadside, eyes shining like the bottom of the dashboard; dull silver shine like the coins in his pocket; dull silver shine like the knife in his pocket; silver shine like the hands of the watch in his pocket; shine like the bottom of the sky. The rain was a thin silver cutting on the windshield. He put his foot on the brake, he stopped to pick her up. He leaned over and opened the door and let her in his car. She said, Thank you. Stray raindrops fell onto the car seat. Car seats were made of vinyl, back then. Though it was not so long ago. The road curved, night snuck in. Headlights were coming on. He followed the double yellow line down the center of the asphalt. Rain came hard, the trees grew thick. I did not teach my son how to drive. I did not teach my son how to place his foot on the accelerator or the brake. I did not teach him to look at a girl in such and such a way. He was very polite. He asked, Would you like a towel? But he did not have a towel. He had something hard in his pocket. The girl had legs. The girl had shivers. The girl had black hair blacker with rain. She did not shake her head from side to side. They were both going the same direction. He was just driving. He was just driving off the main road. He was just driving among the trees. He had never gone that way before. My son had never gone that way. I did not teach him how to desire. I did not teach him how to clench his teeth. I did not teach him where to point his eyes. The girl said, Stop. She got out of the car. She was not fast enough. My son's eyes shone like brake lights in the rain.

My son's limbs are the limbs of a lamb. My son's legs are the legs of a horse. My son's chest is the chest of a sparrow. He grew up and went to school. He took swimming lessons and tuba. He travelled to the countryside in August. He went out in the snow. He covered his shoes with galoshes in the spring showers. He won the sixth grade science prize but couldn't spell "acknowledge" at the spelling bee. He didn't read dimestore comic books, very much. He had small marbles of all colors. He messed up his stamp collection. He messed up his butterfly collection. He was a respected Weeblo Scout. When he went camping he would always take his flashlight. When he took to the woods he would always carry his knife. He saw a hart with velvet antlers. He started a fire. He put out a fire. He woke in the morning before all the others. He got lost. He came home. He never talked.

The boy constructed dinosaurs in his room. The dinosaurs had sharp large teeth. He carried the dinosaurs downstairs and displayed them by the window. He fed them bits of food. They did not eat the food. The food rotted on the window sill. He smashed the models. He went outside with a book and caught a large insect, a cicada. He lined a box red with velvety cloth. He stuck the cicada on a pin in the box. He said something about seventeen years, and he was seventeen years old. The cicada had rainbows on its wings. Metallic green the body; alien green, green like my son's eyes. I noticed many molted exoskeletons that year.

His father didn't talk much. His father was a good man, a gentle man. His father.

We did all the things we were meant to do. We woke up early and stayed up late. We washed and we cleaned, we cooked and we clapped. We did what parents do. He couldn't possibly have done it. Remember how he wet his pants hiding among the drying sheets!

My son's eyes glowed like the speedometer. My son's eyes shone like brake lights in the rain. The girl was not fast enough.

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