Friday, August 13, 2010

Portrait In Monochrome And River Ice

He had married the town beauty,

But the glad hands were gone when she divorced him in 1917 and left upstate New York for good,

Their five year old son's small fingers wrapped in hers

As they stepped up on the stool the porter had set down

And boarded the train for Detroit.



In January, Schenectady cold gets into your bones.

He went to work, played a little cards, skipped church,

And his nights were frozen rivers, hard and unnavigable.



Maybe he saw the dark of the river in her eyes,

--The woman he met in 1925--

Or maybe he just liked her cheek bones, high and perfect;

Anyway, the day came when he asked her, in his upstate accent, what was on his mind.

She made a fine bride, with her black hair against the white lace of her borrowed wedding dress.



The ice holds a happy man, with a Christmas flask in his gloved hand;

But springtime brings thaw and madness--

Nobody walks on water, then.



She was as silent as the beauty had been lively.

She made his life a Summer of swaying grasses,

And when, by candle light, he kissed her swollen belly,

He felt himself fortunate beyond all measure.



She bore him twin girls--

Held them one in each arm, like moondogs, and she the moon.

Then came the rocking,

While the babies cried unattended.

He would find her, twisting her hair and staring at something no one else could see;

Something terrifying.

Something unnameable.



A motor ambulance took her east as the Autumn came,

And a wagon took the babies west.

Neither ever came back again.



A man undone by twos,

He found a new double to numb himself with--

As the bottle stood, diminishing, on the bar,

He emptied, too,

Like a spilled shot glass,

Or a full moon river spirit,

Cursed and luckless as the northern winds that bring Winter,

Leaving him pale, cold, and gone with the first warm day.

_________

This is a true story, though I have taken the liberty of filling in some of the minor details. The five year old boy grew up. At 43, nine years after the last one, he became a father for the third and final time. That child...was me.

art by Alphonse Mucha

_________

17 comments:

TALON said...

This was lovely, Shay...which probably seems the wrong word, but it's what I think. Sad, yes, but lovely all the same.

I've been to Schenactady before - cold cold cold in the winter. But then that's Upstate New York. :)

ellen abbott said...

So this is about your grandfather? Yes? What happened to the twin babies?

And yes, beautifully written.

~ Tabitha ~ said...

I loved this Fireblossom.And I just love the blogger buddy out of you.
Thank you for sharing your fine writing with us all out here ;)
T xo

Kay said...

you are amazing... must. read. again.

Kay said...

okay: favs

"The ice holds a happy man, with a Christmas flask in his gloved hand;

But springtime brings thaw and madness--

Nobody walks on water, then."

"A man undone by twos,

He found a new double to numb himself with--

As the bottle stood, diminishing, on the bar,

He emptied, too,

Like a spilled shot glass,"

there is an empathy there, I think we all could follow... very nicely written.

He would be proud. :)

Tabitha Bird said...

Wow Shay. That was cool. Thanks for sharing that.

Angie Muresan said...

This is fascinating! So very sad, but I love how you've told it.

www.angiemuresan.com

Boonsong said...

I enjoyed this a lot. Thanks.

All the best, Boonsong

Riot Kitty said...

Wow Shay! Beautiful how you turn life into art.

Mama Zen said...

I could see it all. Lovely and sad and breathing.

Cloudia said...

and so the legend grows...





Warm Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral

faye said...

WOW ...simply WOW..
you have such a way with words.....
and emotions.

Joanna Jenkins said...

What a story, sad but beautifully told.
xo jj

Brian Miller said...

brilliant as ever shay...
a sad tale, but one that had to be told to get to you...

Patience said...

awesome poetry, incredible story, i would totally write this down too if this story was in my blood. real life (with a twist) makes the best poetry. see you around, poet woman!

Mojo said...

Wow. That's all I can say. Wow.

But... she left upstate New York because it was too cold and moved to Detroit??

Lynn said...

Wow - I didn't see that coming - the child was you. Wow.