Author Archives: deemallon

Walking after dinner

The torrential rain woke me repeatedly last night and each time in my half-awake state I thought, The world is ending, isn’t it?

I can’t take the gummies as a sleep-aid anymore because of what they do to my stomach. Maybe this second purchase is contaminated because the first order didn’t bother me at all. I don’t know. Last night I was awake past two. The same two nights before, except maybe it was three o’clock. And one night recently I didn’t sleep at all.

My phone always has a book on it. Library-kindle is a boon. It means I can stay in bed and read.

Yesterday I finished Oh, William!: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout and started a Maggie O’Farrell. Some of you have read O’Farrell’s extraordinary Hamnet, I know. This one, I Am, I Am, I Am, is a memoir told through a series of near-death experiences.

The Strout book was told by Lucy Barton. She is looking back on her first marriage and spending time with her ex in NYC where they both live. They make a road trip to Maine. Her second husband has recently died and her ex’s third wife leaves him early in the narrative, so it isn’t that odd that they might seek each other out. The novel has this distinctive voice, with frequent insertions of phrases like, is what I mean to say or I’m not going to write another word about that. And even though not much happens really, it was hard to put down.

I read acknowledgments now. Lo and behold! One of the agents Strout gushed over at the back of the novel supplied my most recent rejection. That soured me on the book a little. Aren’t I mature?

Finished Ann Patchett’s gem of an essay collection this week too and it left a slightly bitter side note as well. She describes winning this and that prize like I talk about running to Home Goods to pick up a cake platter.

I’ll get over myself. Honest. The essays are very much worth reading.

In other news, the lake afforded a cool reprieve yesterday. I made a delicious potato salad and so-so brownies (old chocolate?). We finished watching The Outlaws.

We’ve been taking Finn around the “figure eight” after dinner lately. I’ve hit over 10,000 steps quite a few times recently because of it.

In case you can’t tell, that’s a brag!

Morning of Surprise Hearing

“I wonder if it’s possible to will myself into spontaneous combustion.”
Aleyna Rentz, from Cincinnati Review

Charred bones hold a certain
appeal. A ravaging by fire
before crumbling into the dirt of
death.

Malva up the street bloom
in the palest of pinks. And now
hosta send up the sturdy
stalks of their flowers. July,
this July coming, is still familiar
to them in a way to me
it is not.

Hair shooting out of my scalp
transformed into poison darts
would more clearly show
the neighbors who I am
than the little waves, nods,
the purse across the chest,
holding phone and dog treats
as if the old rules of communication and reward still apply.

The house remains standing. The grass
grows in the fits and starts
indicative of shade. This morning
the dog sat on the deck planks
still wet from last night’s rain. He
was listening. Dogs are always
listening.

Would it help to shave my
head? To craft an embroidered
badge saying I’M DONE or WAKE UP?
To make visible the roiling
disappointment, so roiling,
so disappointed as to render the
words useless.

Old styles of rebellion will not
hold. Saving democracy is
not a style decision, as much as
we might like it to be.

Revelation after damning revelation
and STILL we wonder: will it matter?

We’re talking a femoral bleed.
Grasping around to find
a tourniquet, placing the life-
saving band around the body
but forgetting how to tie a knot.

“No July 4 for me this year,” say
some, while many others have
never had much to celebrate about
our so-called independence, our
so-called freedoms.

A flawed past does not
condemn us to tyranny. Please, someone,
make magnets saying that so I can put
them eye-level on the fridge, linking
hunger and hope and reason.

We don’t forget to eat, so
why should we forget to dream big?
To believe in possibility?

The squirrels chip at the air
with their throats. I used to think
it was the cardinals.

Somewhere, someone mows a
lawn. Somewhere, someone gets
water off a truck because lead
contaminates their water. Local
jack hammers signify home
improvement. Federal jack
hammering comes in the form
of 6-3 opinions. They
are blasting away at basic assumptions,
at long-held rights, at
the beliefs and needs of the majority — at

their own jurisprudence.

Who do you talk to in the
still of the night? Some nights
it is the ghost of my mother.
Other nights it is my own
nervous system. Sometimes
my children show up as absence
and silence and that keeps me
awake longer.

Not all loss is national and
collective.

I have my snacks ready
for the next set of revelations.
A friend is coming to sit by and
watch with me.

How we connect now matters more than ever.

Last night the sky blazed
orange. Chips of light between
maple and beech trees like mosaics.
It’s hard to remember the world
when you are perpetually walking
between kitchen and living room,
bathroom and bed. COVID, anyone? Or should I say: COVID for EVERYONE!

The world as defiled. The
world as holy. I don’t need
to shave my head to show
how my heart is trembling.

 *. *. *.

This was written to a prompt in my Tuesday Amherst Writers and Artists workshop — the last until mid-August. The prompt was the Rentz quote above which appeared in a piece titled The Land of Uz. Cincinnati Review, Fall ’21.

The photo of Hutchinson was taken from a PBS website, but it is everywhere. I ran it through a filter in the Prisma app.

P.S. if you look carefully at the fairy-lights-photo, you will see Finn behind the glass door.

 

 

From Tuesday, June 21, 2022

I don’t normally title blog posts with dates, but it feels important to note the time. Five and a half weeks since the shooting in Buffalo. Four weeks since the shooting in Uvalde. The day before the fourth Jan 6 Hearing. The day of the Supreme Court handing down long-awaited decisions. The day after Beyonce dropped a song from her new album.

The paragraphs below were written in a go to a prompt and are not edited.

The prompt: “She stopped listening to weather reports.”

She stopped listening to weather reports. It was a matter of self-preservation she said. “I want to remember how to sniff for rain,” she said. “Enough with the apps!” Stepping onto the blue stone in the cool of morning with bare feet had also receded into some primitive time of “before.”

The local screech owls died when they tore down the Newton Andover woods to make way for townhomes. She found one of their bodies. The neighbor who had called out to them in the dark of spring evenings when the bats came out, was gone now too.

Speaking of sniffing, just yesterday on a dog walk with her husband, she’d said, “That smells like fox. They spray too you know.” Of course he knew.

She’d collected skunk bones from under the deck one summer, their vertebrae like candies in her palm, but neither of them had ever seen a fox.

The very next morning, her phone chimed at 6:40 a.m. — too early for Patty’s daily wordle result. It was her husband. He’d resumed hoofing it to the T two or three times a week. “You’ll never believe this,” it read. “I saw a fox on Cypress Street this morning.”

It was as if the universe was playing with them. Maybe, she thought, she ought to start picturing the FBI raiding Mar-A-Lago. After all, it was the Solstice, which is one of the corners of the year when the Old Ones believe that a crack between the worlds opened up. Possibilities unlikely on an ordinary day might fly on the longest day.

Today she sat and watched her phone, waiting for the inevitable. At ten a.m., the Supreme Court started publishing opinions, the whole country holding its breath — the bad of it all about to get so much worse.

It wasn’t like she set out to learn political minutiae, like how reconciliation bills were exempt from the filibuster or how tight margins in some primaries triggered an automatic recount, but she did. This morning she learned that the highest court released opinions by reverse seniority. Kavanaugh’s came first and when Breyer’s dropped, it meant Dobbs would hold another day, since Alito is junior to Breyer.

A Roe expert on twitter wrote “Sobbs” by mistake and then said, “Well, that fits too.”

Beyonce’s first single in years dropped last night proving there is still good in the world. Talent and beauty, gifts to us all. If only her singing, “You won’t break my soul,” applied universally, unilaterally. Could her message be like the slight scent of musk which had been received with disbelief only to be met the very next day with the actual embodiment of what was believed impossible. Jump suits for everyone!

Her therapist will only read the news (not watch) and some days only the headlines. She says it’s too much otherwise. Silvia says the same.

At the doctor’s office yesterday, the form asked if she ever felt anxious, restless, depressed, or hopeless. Suicide screening is nothing new. She checked “often” for a lot of them. When the doctor held up the form later with a raised eyebrow, she just waved it off saying simply, “I watch the news.”

The fox crossing the road, the very first sited in over thirty years, seemed a kind of miracle — a call and response between imagination and reality. These days, she couldn’t tell if her hopelessness was being tamped down by some efficient and reliable defenses, or if it was denial battering her, forcing her to adopt notions, hopeful notions, that simply weren’t supported by reality. We all know denying reality creates tension. Tension.

“How much hopelessness is appropriate?” was a question she never expected to ask herself with such regularity.

A fox crossing the road. A sweep for the good at the midterms. A musky scent confirmed. Indictments handed out all the way to the top. A summer dance tune: “You won’t break my soul.”

*  *  *

Yesterday’s hearing, as it turned out, gave cause for hope — the brave testimony and acts of ordinary poll workers — Ms. Moss and her mother, Lady Ruby Freeman. But it was also cause for fear because it demonstrated that the right has “operationalized violence,” as Nicolle Wallace said, and these ordinary poll workers, also Black women, were targeted in an extreme and gross manner that speaks to Jim Crow and the lengths trump and his cohort have been willing to go to hold onto power.

Pictures from the attic

Two things happened. First, we scheduled a vent cleaning. In order to give the workmen access to our upper furnace, we had to clear out one side of the attic. We found old papier-mâché animals, high school papers, a Build-a-Bear pillow from one of the boys’ birthday parties. There was a batch of pictures, all framed.

Second, we got word that K’s brother would stay with us for the weekend. Time to tidy one of the boys’ bedrooms!

That’s when I decided to resurrect one of the stowed-away pictures.

Before C was born, my mother painted this tropical reef scene for his nursery. We hung it immediately and loved it for years, but then put it away. Why exactly, is opaque to me now. Were the colors too juvenile or did the Marvel posters compete for space?

It was with a mixture of pride, longing, and love that I put the painting back on the wall. Hello, Mom!

Father’s Day Eve

Today is all about summer food. I made cold cucumber soup for lunch and we ate watermelon with mint from the garden and lime afterwards. A key lime pie is in the oven. I don’t even care what I make for dinner with a dessert like that in the works.

(Probably we’ll have leftover chicken and bean soup with sourdough toast).

We’re watching one super-creepy murder mystery right now: Shining Girls (AppleTV+). It stars Elizabeth Moss whose character suffers from severe trauma-related amnesia. She unofficially teams up with a dysfunctional journalist to try and crack a murder case that may or may not be linked a bunch of cold cases. There are unexpected flashbacks, so that as viewers we also become disoriented to time. And the bad guy? Whew! A little too omniscient but otherwise, a perfect sociopath.

Finished the Niall Williams novel. A true delight.

We stopped at a little coffee shop this morning hoping to procure a “pup cup.” If you don’t know, a pup cup is a coffee cup full of whipped cream for your dog (oh, the things I learn on Instagram!). Finn had his eighth birthday this week and since he’s never had a pup cup, I thought it time. Do you see him through the window there?

They didn’t have whipped cream and, don’t judge me, based on the sour response from the proprietor I don’t ever plan on going back. It was my second visit to the place and she was a pill the first time too.

(They make donuts and serve cappuccino. It seems to me that she could have offered sweetened foamy milk or a small dish of icing in lieu of the whipped cream. I had a twenty in my hand to make it clear I wasn’t asking for a freebie.)

Heading back home, we crossed this patch of lawn next to the T tracks and determined that it looked like a murder scene. There was a single Nike slide, two tumbled and empty rat traps, and (just off screen), a crumpled and sodden article of clothing.

Too much serial killer fare in our TV line up?

Probably.

This morning’s Paris Collage Club collage