WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WITH THEIR UGLY CHILDREN
There's the running and going on and the straggling
along for the windows. Someone by the door looks away; turns back around.
Looks down, settling in. The look is in the biting of the lip. Blurred
and blown backthe lookin the going on and the going on.
And then Anne spills into the other door. Sits next to the bed in a
chair and says nothing for what seems like a while. Says after a whilestarting
to draw things out further with a shrugsays after a while again:
where she has been.
"I am tired of repeating myself."
Draws out, extends in hand something and drops
it upon the floor. A dialogue of jangling and plop on the carpet.
There had been some time before this, before
at least the time a while back that I met Anne. She had been pear shaped.
That was how old boyfriends might have described her in late nights
at bars. And how her daughters later found her in photographs. There
were three lines on her forehead and with these lines you might say,
through the motion of sighing or the motion of frowning or the movement
of raising an eyebrowwith this you might say she wrote something
rather essential about history.
Anne walked around, no shoes on
her feet. Wearing a shirt that said Minnesota in white Coca-Cola style
lettering. Walking and looking around. Carrying bags and boxes of things
from here to somewhere else.
It would be later in the day that
she'd walk her daughter's home from school in between other sidelong
trips and glances. I once had something somehow almost spectacular to
say about the things she would say to me. Of the shuffling of feet and
crags seen in the faces of those she'd passed. Of the last good sleep
she'd had or the tittering and rasping of her children and men.
And there had been one daughter
though later there were three. Before her second daughter was born she
moved in between a family from Michigan and me. The daughter of the
family, in high school gave Anne magazines she'd finished reading that
she thought might help with her appearance and with men. To her insistent
eyes, Anne only seemed to enjoy the company of one man and. Besides,
this man left a few months before any of this in her car.
Until somewhere a few weeks after the first night,
the next to last in line bit of the around and further out: it was somewhere
here that I was told they'd discovered the car keys of the girl missing
from her purse.
I found Margaret, the mother, frantic.
Sitting in a chair across from me, looking into my face. Wanting not
to frown. I can recall having been on a jet all night, awake. Sweat
was still coming out from under my arms. She had left earlier that morning
with only one of the daughters in the back seat. No one thought of where
to follow her.
And when I arrived, I found Margaret
sitting in a chair in the living room; her husband upstairs pissing.
When he came down, he said hello and shook my hand. Then he frowned
and looked down on the floor. No one said anything for a moment until
Margaret, reaching for the telephone, was startled by it's sudden ringing.
She screamed, then said, "oh fuck," and knocked the phone
over. Her husband, Bob, pulled out a pack of cigarettes and began smoking
one. Then another and another, all the while pacing behind her and then
finally sitting down on the couch.
He turned on the television and
after a moment Margaret looked over at him and then at the screen. On
the morning news there was a report of a man driving into a family of
four crossing the street the night before. Backing up, about to speed
away, a bystander heard him say, "who are these people with their
ugly children?" Margaret sighed and shifted in her chair.
The husband, Bob, stayed with the
news. Anne we were later told, drunk at the wheel from the night before,
came to a stop sign on a small road, falling asleep with her head down
in the passenger seat. Her foot on the brake and the motor running until
the car ran out of gas.