Her Neighbors All Have Power

I am on the phone with the power company that serves South Bend, Indiana, to report my mother's lights and stove and heat are gone, and she is huddled in a blanket, unable to read, at eight o'clock at night, touching the phone occasionally, flirting with sleep. Her neighbors all have power. The street lamp blares outside her window. And the flashlight batteries have gone to seed after the night before, the same as now, when she has telephoned to talk with me as though I were a real adult, and she, a child. Last night it occurred to me that once I weighed three point five pounds. Once I was all eyes. The summer months were all I knew of light that I could not acquire. My mother, premie, too, was balanced on the oven door to simulate the womb warmth in a format more objective, less familiar, one supposes. For the country is itself warm insufficiently, with neighbors far away as stands of trees close to the river, strong unto itself and distant. At no time in my life have I retracted the palaver found in jazz-smooth instruments. That pours now from the speaker of this telephone beside me, into which I will report my mother's solitude, her fear, and mine. I will recite the specificity of her concern, being surrounded as she is by lights she cannot use, belonging to her neighbors who are really very far away. Here in the desert, there can never be sufficient light. Today is muted with an inattention to the weather previously mild. All snowstorm long we wore our attitudes of layered clothes, attempting to be renaissance interior designers, seeing things and hearing how they feel in contexts foreignly desired. A woman's voice keeps interrupting now repetitive tonality and offering apologies and gratitude in general for a projected patience in which I do not partake. She interrupts then a Metheny clone to say they care about our safety, and to watch out for power lines down in our yard, move ladders, antennas, brooms and poles away from those still in position. Her voice is soothing in its age a little bit ahead of mine. Now the music's snappy with a dab of perk. My keyboard seizes the attention, as I hear all representatives are handling calls from other customers. Moths, I call them. Looking for a little light, the way I do. A mother whose warm liquid eyes would radiate a whole room when my size was so small as to be lost in someone's lap. Apart from power lines and sediment. The rocking horse of trees made to house better weather than our forbears owned. Working in the yard, post storm, from far away a flash of lightning that defines the day and coming days

Sheila E. Murphy | There Was a Silly Putty Look within Her Lazy Eye
Contents | Mudlark No. 8