She seemed like a fragile flower, petrified as though she had inhaled the dust of late-summer’s drought, the summer my mother came home. By then our two-flat felt like a crooked house, three generations listing, top-heavy with age and infirmity.  At the window she dozed and tilted in her chair, wheels locked.  I learned to slide out the front door unnoticed, happily avoiding her impossible gaze. Vigilant on my tricycle with the big front wheel, I traveled the neighborhood. My uniform, a babushka and a too-big leather bomber jacket, I patrolled Francisco Avenue to Devon and back up. I scoured backyards, houses, alleys and gangways inspecting people. Years later someone asked me, “What is the silence of loss?” I said, “I am still the passerby, head down, studying the cracked pavement, wondering if it will withstand the guttural din of the delivery trucks, smashing their way down this narrow alleyway.

(This  is a retake of a story that, for me, is travelling a road, with no end in sight.)



asheville artists, family, family history, poetry, prose poetry, wnc poetry, women arts

Comments (3)

  • I recognize this, Jean, and am heartened to know that you are staying with that endless road. Clearly it has endless resonance and continuing revelations.

    I also appreciaed the description in the other piece about your godfather and the way you used the idea of “twain,” the bulwark between generations.

  • This is quite remarkable in terms of the power of the atmosphere created here, in such a short space. Poignant, evocative, never sentimental, ….that bomber jacket….you create a “character” or “self”—–so well.

  • Those first two sentences say SO much. Exquisite pain, yet so resilient it gives me hope. And I love the image of the babushka and bomber jacket!!

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