Friday, October 19, 2007

Back from Arizona

My Father Is a Fixer of Things

The clock limped with waiting, hours of my teeth
chattering from the mouse that ran between my feet
at four a.m. Up the radiator pipe it had come, the gray ghost
of everything I despised or suspected
about myself. When he finished laughing, he said,
“Stuff the hole with rags soaked in Tabasco. He’ll burn
his little mouth & go back to the cellar.” Three
thousand miles away, I knew he had pinched his lips
& was patting them in sympathy with that mouse.

Another late night & Jim calls, his car stalled
between St. Ignatius & Ronan. It is the coldest night
of the year, the stars laparoscopic against a dead
black sky. I decide to go too, & we layer up, the Donner party
with foresight. It is any old weekday night but it is a world
in this car, my father driving fast to bring his son home,
our urgent silence tattooed by something Russian
& wild (Romeo & Juliet, but Prokofiev or Tchaikovsky?) boundaried
by the green dashboard lights, the hard
geological dark, landmarks swept by, unremarked.

I spill a necklace into his hand. His fingers are thick, square-nailed,
strong, a peasant’s hands bred for midwiving cows
& fashioning such furniture as his forest huts needs. But knots
are his business, all kinds: jib lines & dry flies, one-handed
surgical seams up the chest of the Thanksgiving turkey. “Your hands
are smaller than mine,” he sighs. “Can’t you
do this yourself?” No, my face closes. I can’t. Or I won’t.
I wait for such crises like cake on Sunday. Slivers that he pincers
out bloodlessly, the smell of rubbing alcohol from his use-softened
bag as he puts together his otoscope with its cool promise
in my fevered ear, an hour scanning every word under Webster’s “T”
until I give up & ask why pterodactyl is missing from the dictionary.

Sometimes my helplessness amuses, sometimes it gives us
what I crave more than anything – more than sugar, more than love –
a chance to be father & daughter, a rare island in his other lives, all
of them, I know, hanging on that balance of patient speed,
rich livid mirth, even as he glides onto the fixing of other things.

My father explains a transistor radio/TV to my grand-niece, Sophie.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Random Thoughts - Photo Essay

You tell me: is this a sign, & what is it a sign of?

When I was working for Alix, my therapist asked me to get a Cindarella doll for my desk to remind me that I wasn't sitting in the ashes any more. This weekend she fell into my large lamp. I smelled something burning. Here's Cindarella now.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tomorrow I leave early in the morning for a wekk in Phoenix. My father is turning 90 & there's ahuge party for him on Sunday & 30 people from out-of-town dropping in & out of the house for a sort of reunion for the two days before. I'll get to see my nience & grand-niece, as well as the other nieces & nephews. I'll be cooking for 30 people. I've planned meals that are abstinent -- salad & sandwich bars for lunch, jambalaya -- & I know my father is going to be thrilled.

I've taken the right steps & some unusual ones for my physical well-being. My clothes fit to a T -- no room for goofing off. There is a box of ex-lax in my luggage. Breakfast & lunch are packed & in the refrigerator for the plane tomorrow.

I'll be seeing my Perfect Cousins, or three of them anyway. This has me in fits. My brother Jim & I always laugh that we have to brace ourselves to see our cousins. I have killer shoes, several pairs. An elegant brown-fading-to-champagne silk dress. My Prada knock-off's & honkin' big zircon earrings. So we'll see.

I've planned most of the party aside from the big she-bang on Sunday, although I've ordered pinatas for centerpieces & order chili pepper balloons & found a place to fill them.

I'm exhausted.


I survived John Malkovich only to have spent an hour in the dog run, where Henry splashed water on me from knees to shoes & the Roger skrtched dirt on my from knees to shoes. I dropped off my dogs & hurried to walk Zeke. & yes, I defiitely got a second glance, the antithesis of Eric Clapton's, from Gabriel Byrne.

His look was NOT admiring.

I really hope one of the five pairsof shoes I'm bringing makes me feel like a girl...