Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
The Summer I Took The Special Art Class
I began to understand — the moon could be aspirin, or Necco, or clock or porcelain plate in the sky. The moon could be a bottle cap or a petri dish. It could hide in a camera lens or in my mother’s wedding ring. Once it turned into a shiny dime.
The day they sent us home, I was changed. As changed as the day the doctor said astigmatism. This happened in Montana. In 1959. No one could tell me why the moon was everywhere, lurking in manhole covers and steering wheels. How had it found the luminous dial that glowed when my father drove us home at night?
The Year I Learned to Eavesdrop
I heard blackbirds and meadowlarks. And groaning flatbeds and baby hawks tucked into secret nests under scratchy white weeds. I’d sneak out early, move through the rustle of corn and crickets, then hunker down to listen as my uncle’s barn leaned into its sonic decay. Through broken slats I heard the cows moan as the urgent currrhst of milky froth hit the heavy steel buckets.
But in winter I woke to darkness. I lay still, listening to the muffled shuffling of cousins pulling on heavy boots and cursing the cold Canadian winds. When they were gone the quiet got so big I could hear the hum of Grandma’s long white freezer. Like God, it felt vast. And cold. And far away.
When I Watched the Hearings on TV
We were a small town whose lexicon of movement made it hard to lie. There was a way of leaning on a fence that said, don’t mind if I do — and style of walking away that meant fuck you, cowboy. Teenagers gestured slang, dancers thought with their bodies. Late at night our mothers could sway and bloom into birds or dark weather.
But as soon as they’re grown, the young leave home. They head for the cities. That’s how I knew the man on TV. He must have spent hours staring into the mirror, practicing for this day when he would turn to the camera and with an exaggerated stillness that is sometimes confused with dignity say “No, Mr. Chairman, not to the best of my recollection.”
Copyright 2017 Deborah Bogen