This is from my father’s boyhood room—the same furniture and some of the same decoration it had when dad was my age. I’m sitting in an old vinyl chair that has been in this same position for as long as I can remember.
The curtains are new though. I can remember looking far off through them into the ancient (Greek?) homes depicted on the lacy tossing loosely knit folds. Street light would filter in and illuminate the stone in my imagination. Somehow, vaguely, I remember a conversation with my cousin one night as we were finding dreams before sleeping; we wondered how far away were the fabric houses. They must be somewhere. Somewhere in dreams before sleeping.
On the dresser, a portrait of my uncle in uniform—W.W.II, he never liked to speak of—In a battle he stood the middleman of three soldiers abreast, a grenade fell before them, the two fellows on either side were blown into parts, my uncle was not even bruised. A nativity props up the portrait of my uncle in uniform—symbolic. Both the uniform and my uncle are past away, the nativity was long ago. But here are two memorials on a father’s boyhood dresser—one standing supported by the other.
On the chest of drawers is a lithograph of, I think, Oliver Cromwell in full military regalia (if he’s not Cromwell, he’s the Man of LaMancha). Oliver Cromwell is not so closely connected to my family—but since he’s there he deserves a mentioning.
In the shelf over the bed is a Reader’s Digest condensed version of Treasure Island that I’ve read through at least twice through years of Grandmother visits. It has the Wyeth Illustrations that incline the reader to swear heartily and wear an open-necked blouse the day following.
A hundred dogs across the river just shouted in unison at invisible intruders invading the secret industry that does not exist in the laid back backwoods river hunting houses across the water with a hundred dogs becoming silent now.
My Grandmother had eye surgery today. I came down to spend some time with her. A woman my mother once babysat came by with her son. I remember when the son was born. She and the father decided to marry. Her son’s team just won the little league championship; he brought the trophy to show my grandmother. She said he ought to be proud. He fixes breakfast and takes care of his little brother while his mom is at work. His father divorced her a few years ago. He wants to try out for the football team too.
The dogs, after some silence to devour the previous interloper, have now their sights upon another and raise a new complaint.
Outside a wimpy sounding grunt calls out to his brothers across the great flow.
Some kids (jeez, at 11:00?) ride along the street; there is not much danger of traffic after about seven.
The twangy digital chime clock just struck downstairs. I suppose it’s time for sleeping—though dreaming before sleep I sit in a father’s boyhood chair. If I can figure out how to connect the computer to this ancient phone jack, you might receive this message. Odd, in seconds we can send the words, but the chair, the portrait, Cromwell, and Treasure Island are all part of some span of time—some time we have now to look back on. Who will recall us in rooms of the past someday?
What dreams are present–I wish you could have seen the houses.
PS: The wimpy dog sounds like the street urchins are utilizing him as a road obstacle. A matronly reproving voice booms out now to correct the children’s humanitarian faux-paus.