I said, Mom, when you were alive, and not wacko, remember that time Cynthia and I believed…what was it you told us—earnest like a commodity trader—that we actually believed? That thing. I forget. I recall it was “a something big” that you were passionate about, and passed that on. (The important thing to remember is not the specifics but the results, as you would say.) Most of those in our circle resisted the plain truth of that thing that both Cynthia and I forget, and because of the bickering over same forgotten thing, our circle grew smaller and Cynthia and I downsized to accommodate reality, which—I think this is not too hurtful to remind you of, you being dead—was just one of the things that you resisted all your life. You went right ahead all tooth and claw tinkering with our house; whittling it down, expanding it elsewhere and reminding our Postman—he pointed out—of some hut in the Alaskan Outback with all those rusted-out things studding the yard, so rusted-out that no god, he said, could recall what if anything a Mr. Ford or a Mr. Chevrolet had originally intended. At night, remember, the two of us flattened ourselves out between rusty things and looked up, and the sky hurled stars at our faces.
Being of a family that for generations has counted children like money, who can say that these two, framed by the doorway and illuminated by incandescence, are—as they claim—or are not, my cousins? Though resemblance is sketchy it is whispered (malicious hearsay, mostly) that we, unlike Dorchesters and Woggles are impure—our tree, ethnicity-wise, not a straight line. And truth exists in some hearsay for someone’s grandmother once pulled me aside and whispered that calloused hands had rudely pushed gnarly grafts into the trunk-meat of our tree. (The old, like most church folk, are divinely touched by riddle.) If there were a special handshake I would request it of the two at the door who stand all awkward, hats in hand, or if either could make reference to a locale of familial significance I could verify that information by utilizing Aunt’s Family Map. It covers one wall of the living area; a maze of colored lines, some in thread on which here and there exist faded clumps of hair held by ribbon, and paper bits covered with indecipherable scribblings. I am there, too. My colored line is the brightest because in the evening I trace over it with my ballpoint pen. My brother, though lame, draws good likenesses, and I can see if I desire how over the years I have changed.
The milkmaid at the center of the three figures says, “As a couple we, my husband and I, stand off-center yet if I left him to milk a cow or go to the cinema—or just left him—and he were alone with the stone woman, he would stand centered and the composition would divide neatly into three equal parts: The stone woman who with her sister (not in this picture) hold up the building, him and, third, the territory enclosed by the dashed-line, which in the language of graphics implies something less substantial, or that something is planned but not yet realized, or the dashed-line is a noting, a devise to fool the eye into believing the picture is balanced when it is not. In another picture I have moved to the center and he has gone to milk a cow or go to the cinema—or gone wherever—and in that picture the stone woman’s sister has moved into the picture. I like that one better because he has gone and the dashed line is gone and I feel more secure inhabiting a space that is not a lie.
About the author:
Fiction: The New Yorker, Chelsea, Fiction, Quick Fiction, Work Riot, SmokeLong, Alice Blue, Eclectica, NANO, Spork, Bound Off, 2River, The 2nd Hand Journal, Chicago Noir, Requited Journal, Word Riot’s 10th Anniversary Anthology & Drunken Boat. Audio: Studio Literary Journal, Fringe deClassified, 2River, Mad Hatter’s Review, Drunken Boat, sound/text, Bound Off & Word/Sound/Play. Video: in Ninth Letter, apt, Studio Literary Journal, Word/Sound Play and website, michaelkmeyers.com.