Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2016  Vol. 15 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

Making Ready

Many dreams fade and darken in the portal. Because Luck retains a full head of hair at 60 and quickens to the bon mot, Marie Spence approaches him to speak to the Lions Club of greater Cold Springs about her project to gussy up downtown with marigolds and cherry trees. And when she has tempted him with sufficient art to reel him in, “Don’t forget: mention the koi pond, the fountain.” And “Wear that Hart, Schaffner and Marx blazer.” And “Thelonious, lowlights are not just for middle-aged women.” When he thinks of public speaking, Luck’s hands sweat and his throat constricts, but Mrs. Spence is right: the square has gone to shit. Tar paper on the hardware. Plywood on the depot. On the light pole in front of the closed movie theater the announcements for fire sales, revivals, and tractor pulls have formed a hard, white laminate of papier-mâché. And here he stops, takes out his drawing pad and doodles a barge under that jubilant word, pentimento. But the night before the speech, as he sleeps, Luck wakes his wife with a death-cry. Not screaming exactly. What do they call it? Ululating. Luck ululates. Then he moans, and it starts again. Snakes in the bath. Men with circles painted under their eyes, jigging spears. When his wife wakes him, he says, “Nothing, I was being eaten.” All the following day Luck makes himself remember. To appear calm addressing the cannibals, he will need this fear.  

return to top