Monday, May 28, 2012

Epistle. To: Wolstonecraft

  All right. Maybe I was sulking.
  Last night I had a dream. I met a prostitute and she told me, those new shoes will give you a blister. What I asked? She was mesmerizing to look at, like a pine tree in a desert.  All ghostly and worn and a delightfully naked face. Even though a pine tree does not belong in a desert. Maybe this was desire.  Fake creamy hair with bold gray streaks. A set of high unvarnished cheekbones catching up to the small age circles below the sad moons of her dull brown eyes. We were having clams and noodles at some seafood joint. Do you mind if I change into civilian clothes she asked?
  You are too careful. That's what a psychiatrist at the hospital told me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Surf Rat

   Must be like fifty surfers out in the water this morning, maybe looking for something to call their own in dark rubber suits. Big windy clouds race through the sky like shreds from yesterday's storm. Spray rises from the waves and catches the sunlight in the air and the effects from each wave and the sunlight behind them and the air all around are like the fine needling of lace from old window curtains. So much depends on a take out coffee. So much is silence. So much like some guy parked next to me says - I don't know, I'm from out of town - when I ask him a question.
   But I do know what I'm looking at. Staring into the rear view mirror of my truck. Weekapaug. A salt pond where my brother drowned ten days ago. Out fishing. Tim was forever out fishing. And that's how he died. But that's also how he lived. I can only imagine how cool he was with that. Not dying. But living. Sometimes it's easy to confuse the two. And it's not my job to either blur the lines nor clarify the lines. I'm sitting in a parking lot at Misquamicut at Sam's Snack bar with a fuzzy head but a razor outlook. What did Tim want? The sand from all the rain was soft and rich, almost a thrill to walk upon, almost like your footprints slipped after each step and then with each step further you forgot about them.
   Tim was maybe twelve or thirteen. We took the bus out to the Schuylkill River. Tim with all his gear causing looks from other passengers and riding along in his quiet and taking notes on a flip over spiral pad. Tim was fishing for carp. I didn't really care that much so while Tim was out fishing I wandered along the banks hanging out with stray dogs and avoiding the toughs in the neighborhood. We both had a baloney sandwich on white bread with yellow mustard and a black cherry soda for lunch that mom put together. And I don't know what Tim valued more. That I remember this. Or that mom made lunch, because whatever mom did, Tim in turn revered. When I got back later in the afternoon, near the bus stop, Tim wasn't there. A kind of panic flooded over me. How do I explain this to mom? That I lost my brother? Plus he had the bus money!
   Then I saw him. Down off this retaining wall knee deep in the water. Fishing rod in his right hand above his head and in his left hand was a soda bottle that he was smacking the top of the river with. Like I said Tim was a quiet guy. But he wouldn't let that carp go. He knocked the shit out of that fish with a soda bottle. But that fish was his. And that moment, I think for us both, was enlightenment. I believe it at least because I saw it. He looked up and saw me and grinned and held up some gnarly looking beast that he pulled from the stank brown and heavy polluted waters of the Schuylkill.
   And watching all this was a reporter from the Evening Bulletin. He wrote a story a few days later in the sport's pages about what he'd seen. He also took a photograph of Tim holding up the carp. Tim smiling and tired with his head cocked and holding up a fish by the gills.
  Over the years Tim sent me photos. Here's a shark. Here's a tuna. Here's a tarpon. Nothing more than a little note with each photograph. But I know that inside each of those photos was the picture of a carp. That's where it began. What they show me is the same kid, head cocked, tired from the fight, smiling, with a fish that he caught for the world to see. And that's how it ends. Tim was out fishing. God speed.
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