the best of 52|250's fourth quarter

Week #50 – Home sweet home

Week #50 – Home sweet home

Hello Moon by Abby Braman
Ulysses Reconsidered by Aaron Robertson  
Just like Farnese’s birds, whose voices became caught
on an unchanging view of palaces in ruin,
you fell into a dream: one of rivers that ran
with sentimental ease before your family seat.
But left to choose, you changed the eternal for light,
where gifted canon’s robes allowed your mind to turn
from thoughts of chimney smoke and gardens seldom seen,
the limestone of your end betraying words of slate.
The Fleece still hangs unclaimed, yet slowly I’m pulled back
to forest-covered hills and hard volcanic rock,
unsure of how the tide has brought me to this shore.
Your counsel holds no truth for sailors who have come
to crave the open sea, when mesmorized by fame
you never knew the life you claimed to hold so dear.
Memories of Home by Susan Gibb  
When Mary Brevins died, she took the memory of the sun with her. It wasn’t as big a problem as the engineers had thought since light had been established in all but the most remote sections of the earth and even several light-lanes spanning the major oceans had been completed.

For Joyce Fields, however, it was a major event, for now it placed her in the position of having the last living memory of the sun. The officials came to pick her up before she could get away.

“What do you mean, grass and trees and even buildings change color during the day, or if there were what you call clouds to dissipate the light?”

“Why wouldn’t your sun prevent the snow?”

“Change the color of your skin? Impossible!”

“Okay, so show us which hill it hid behind at night.”

Finally they let her go. Convinced she was simply an old woman in the early stages of dementia. They laughed as they reread the things she claimed were true when she was young before all the technology took over simple functions.

Back home, Joyce Fields sat down in her favorite chair. She hadn’t known Mary Brevins but she felt the loss. She closed her eyes and as she always did, brought up her favorite memories. She recalled a morning when she went fishing with her dad and brother. The way the sun came up and colored the small pond like a paintbrush dipped in water.

Homies by Grant Farley  
I hop up the wooden steps, my summer feet too tough for splinters, and slip through the back porch and plop down next to Manny on the wicker. Somewhere beans simmer in cast iron. Abuelita‘s face is dark skin folds.

She is Manny’s grandma, not mine. But I’ve sort of adopted her. Her iced cinnamon coffee wobbles in her hand as she heads for us. She always wears a black dress and these thick black shoes that clunk on the hollow floor. She sits down facing us and eases the glass onto the ledge and lets out a sigh.

Then she pats her knees and leans back like she’s going to sing-song one of her tales about funny people, the earth and the sky, animals that talk, and even witches, brujas, as Manny squeezes the sounds into English for me. There is always a lesson for us.

I wait, staring out at a world gone soft through old screens. Under that cinnamon coffee breath she has this old lady purplish smell. But the way Abuelita’s mouth scrunches, I’m figuring our b.o. must be pretty funky after all we had just done. There is not tale.

Instead, she stares at her Manny and then back at me. She’s wondering, finally, whether she wants her mijo hanging out with this freckled bandito.

Saturday Afternoons by Meg Tuite  
Oh yeah, there were fabrications up and down our pristine block. A perversion of flawless green-as-Ireland lawns, pot-bellied monoliths to dadhood grunting and sweating, pushing lawnmowers like workdays, bald spots of ruddy, brick skin all the way down past plaid shorts, hairy, yellow-tinged legs into some kind of moccasins they got for Christmas one year and squeezed their veined feet in. Back and forth they strained like chronic arthritis, listening to the Cubs losing yet another one, swearing and yelling out to each other while the wives, old china tucked away behind glass, could be glimpsed running around in those sacks they called housedresses, dusting away years of oppressive silence, except to yell out for their kids in unseasoned squeaks, “get inside for dinner,” when six o’clock rolled around and the hodgepodge of beasts would stampede down both sides of the block with baseball bats, basketballs, jump ropes and roller skates babbling in one long wailing narration of summer.

While inside our living room the tick of the clock could be heard in our heartbeats, a cough or clearing of a throat as the four of us lay like kindling around mom with five new books we each got from the library stacked up beside us. Each of us lost in a landscape, family, history unmasking itself every Saturday afternoon. Mom giving us the same answer whenever one of us asked. “I’m not the damn dictionary. Find it yourself.” And then she’d return quietly again to her own private world.

Matron by Robert Vaughan  
Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley says, “Call me Peg.”

Has a lifetime supply of Aqua Net.
Swims naked in her sixty square foot fishtank.
Dances the lindy, sits under picnic tables.
Whistles a multitude of birdcalls.
Is batshit about Badger games.

“She was a bitch,” her maid, Opal recalls.

Daphne says, “A gem, a true-blue friend.”

jelly beans and gummie bears by Alexandra Pereira
Kylie loves jellybeans, the red and orange ones. Says they’re the sweetest. I prefer gummy bears, the green ones. I like the taste of green. Yesterday after school we spread out a tablecloth on the large table in the back porch and made houses with our goodies. For the first time, she borrowed some of my green gummies to finish her chimney and front door. She was really inspired and made the biggest house ever. “One day I’m gonna have a house like this one. I’m gonna call it The Rainbow Mansion!” And then she looked at my house and said, “You’re always makin’ green houses. Who wants to live in a green house? That is sooo ugly!” And she squeezed her eyes and wrinkled her nose so that she ended up making a face that was much uglier than the ugly she said my house was. I looked into her shriveled blue eyes. “My bears will eat your beans,” I whispered in my serious voice. And I must have had a scary face because that’s when she looked at me like she had just peed her pants.
Home by Karla Valenti
I watch them as they sleep, the three of them sprawled into each other, their limbs of varying sizes intertwined in the backseat of the car. The oldest rests his head against the window, his arm lays gently across his sister’s lap. The middle one holds her brother’s hand and has lent her other hand to the baby who, in his sleep, has wrapped his tiny dimpled fist around her fingers. Our tiny mess of a car shuttles them through the night, their moonlit sighs mingling with the warm breeze that spills in through the open window, while the road ahead holds steady in its course determined to get us home, seemingly unaware of the fact that we are already there.
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