Thursday, April 17, 2014

THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW by Daniel Marshall

I felt comfortable sitting on a padded stool, the counter hard underneath my forearms when I leaned on it.  With my eyes, I followed the marbled pattern on the stone, veins of white running through black, this way and that, webbed.  The seat revolved, though not the yoke-shaped steel footrest.  I twisted to left and right, stopping my swings with my feet, waiting for service.

“What will you have?”

“A vanilla malted.”

My eyes swept over the store—the mirror facing me that I turned from, not wanting to see myself, the shiny painted and chromed paraphernalia on the sideboard, the wooden telephone booth with the glass windows at the end of the walkway, and a few empty booths.  The store was empty, except for me.

It was a choice of either a malted, a milkshake, or an egg cream, but I was hungry and wanted something thick and soothing, not runny with seltzer and lumpy with ice cream scoops.  A memory flickered across my mind of an apple-cheeked young man and woman, she in a checked dress, sharing an ice cream soda with two straws in the Norman Rockwell painting.  But I had no young woman soft on me to share a soda with, though I could have asked one if I’d had time.

I thought of Beverly, how pretty and demure she was, with long blond hair, and of the day that I passed her house and heard her screaming at her younger brother.  An image of Joanne Lanzarone came to me, but I hadn’t seen her since eighth grade and didn’t know where she lived.  I thought that I’d intercepted some glances from her, and there was an engaging sweetness about her but Carol del Casino was more sultry and got higher marks, though not quite as high as mine.  Why was I thinking of them; they were moving in a different direction from me, and I never saw them anymore, except once or twice a year when I went to the same Mass as Carol, and she was wearing attention-getting fashionable grown-up clothes now.

The truth was that Regis kept me away from the neighborhood.  I hardly even saw the pretty Wotman girls next door, though I still saw Marge in the kitchen when she visited my mom and they sat talking around the table.  My mom liked to give advice and listen to people’s problems or just chat.  I wondered what my classmates were doing.  Tommy Keller liked to visit my mom, so once in a while I heard something about him.  I liked to visit Ethel McDonald, Brigid’s mom, but Brigid still looked a lot like a girl and wasn’t sultry like Carol.  Besides, the girls whom I went to school with seemed ordinary, and I wondered what sort of people were beyond Brooklyn.

I thought of Joanne in a one-piece elastic bathing suit, like the one that Joanne Galuski used to wear when I met her in Oswego on the shores of Lake Ontario, behind the university buildings where my dad did research for a summer job, and the summer before that Mary Morrow at Lake Champlain, where Harry Holmes lent us a big summer house on an acre of land by the only main road.  I couldn’t remember when I’d seen Joanne in such a bathing suit, but I could easily imagine her looking attractive in one.  I must have seen her somewhere.

Beverly was taller, and she could have had such a suit, too, but I couldn’t imagine her in one.  Or Ginny Holst.  I thought of Bev in crinoline and satin like the dress that she wore when I took her to the junior prom.  My mom wanted me to date Mary Flaherty, but she was plain and chatty.  My mom knew her mom.  I thought of Ginny as very modest, in a plain flowered dress.  She got the next highest marks after me and didn’t start school with us.

Making a malted was liturgy and performance.  I couldn’t often afford one, but I wanted one to cheer me up.  I remembered being disappointed when Carol showed a liking for Dennis Card.  The counter guy dropped a measured spoonful of a white powder with an expert toss and, pulling a handle or two downward toward the metal canister that served as mixer, he dispensed a couple of fluids into it, thick and white.  He locked the canister into the mixer and flicked a switch.  The machine turned with a soft, business-like little roar.  It was pea-soup green and enameled; they always were.  Maybe it was in my imagination that I imagined seeing the liquid swirling.  Then with a flourish he set a tall glass in front of me, poured the contents of the canister into it, and plopped a straw and spoon in.  It was thick enough that a little indentation formed around the straw.  I sipped, thinking of Joanne Lanzarone, Mary Morrow, and Joanne Galuski in bathing suits and wishing that I had a girlfriend like one of them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

IT'S NOT OVER by DeAnn Louise Daigle

My art history class transported
me to Rome, the Netherlands,
Greece, France, Holland, Germany – 

But more than cities and countries
with boundaries and languages
were the paintings and sculptures themselves.
Like music, they transcended all borders and
destinations except what led to the human heart. 
Art and the human heart.

These few hours every week were precious and
inexplicably freeing for me. 
When I was there in the evenings at the
university, I left behind W. T. Grant Company. 
I was nineteen years old and totally in love with
the study of art and the worlds it opened for me. 
I soared, I wept, I stayed awake nights writing
and reading about my experience of art
and the world of impeccable beauty and how it
nourished and sustained me
by feeding my imagination with an opening to
endless possibilities.

It was this experience that gave me the wings of
courage to go outside, to work, to speak, to have
conversation, to try to live my life as if there were
someone I could speak with about all I felt
and dreamed and hoped for.

I wrote about the whistler of the night
who walked in foggy footsteps I could hear
outside my window
in the middle of a summer’s quiet evening.
And I wrote, after seeing Edward Hopper’s
Nighthawks, about the same sky,
the same sun, the same moon, the same stars
from above my room to other rooms on the
other side of the globe, and how we shared these
together – human beings unknowing, quiet,
apart and yet together.