The Owl and the Pussycat Went to Sea

The Owl and the Pussycat Went to Sea

“My brother is dying,” my mother tells me over the phone, her voice spilling down the line, a thin stream of water over the lip of a dam. My mother says the word dying like it’s a question. As if we have some input in the matter. I’ve been expecting this news for some time and yet still, I feel a click inside my head, the pinioning tooth of a clock gear grinding down into sudden, absolute stillness. My hand goes up to my forehead where the bone is surprisingly intact. Curved, warm, hard. It comes to me that silence is just a figment, a metaphor. What sounds like a barren expanse, if you listen harder, is actually a tidepool glinting with shape and movement. Like the man in the sound-proofed room who hears the storm of his breath, the wonder of his own heartbeat.

Go Long

Go Long

I was several blocks away, kicking a soccer ball against a cinder block wall. In the hospital that evening I stood alone in the fluorescent hall. I didn’t believe a bit of it. Was Gawk in the room behind the half-closed door? I pictured him in there eating chocolate ice cream, the TV turned up loud, Dad reading the sports and Mom hovering. I remembered I needed to pump more air into the soccer ball. I stared at the door refusing to enter.

More of a Bowerbird

More of a Bowerbird

The word “benign” has several meanings. It can mean kindly or harmless. Or gentle – which is nice. I thought it also meant “sitting around doing nothing,” but this incorrect.

If you are busy, it can be irksome to observe others doing nothing. “If you’re not doing anything…” my husband says. I would argue that reading is not “doing nothing;” nor is smoking.

I am of robust health. You may find this offensive, given the above. Perhaps you do not feel robust yourself, or must work at it. If so, you may be glad to know that I will get my comeuppance.