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PORTRAIT OF MONA

By Hugh Fox

She’s 62 but acts more like 162, and it’s not 2006, but 1706, she’s somewhere in the Massachusetts (or English-Irish-Scottish) backlands, she’s had her three kids, and they’ve never really left, live just three cornfields and fourteen haystacks away and her fourteen grandchildren are always hanging around, and all she does is make pumpkin, apple, cherry, pear, blueberry, pecan pies and muffins and bread and briskets of beef, and when she’s not cooking or washing dishes she crocheting doillies, knitting sweaters and socks, sitting watching the bats at dusk and the squirrels at dawn, washing sheets and pillow-cases, drinking the sourest possible buttermilk and in the summer walking through the parks, getting the grandkids in town, “Let’s drive down to the lake,” get them on to the sand, into the water, checking out the lifeguard, all towels and dry underwear so they don’t stay wet once they’re out of the water, then over to the local icecream store, a little mixed chocolate and vanilla,lickable, then films, the latest Harry Potter and let’s not forget popcorn, then home, out into the backyard with her five dogs and let’s put some seeds into the birdfeeder and watch the sparrows and cardinals and blue jays appear, more DVD films at night after a cookie and milk snack, she closes the blinds so that not a crack of light comes in between the panels, always opens the windows about five fingers up in the winter, a lower arm’s worth in the summer, enjoys her plush bed and pillows, the mirrors and

2.

photos (mom, dad, grandma, grandma’s sister, her kids and grandkids, her sister’s kids, her unmarried sister, her brother and his three kids, her dead -- M.D. --husband, closest friends, a few photos of Niagrara Falls and The Grand Canyon), she crawls into bed and eternity begins, dreams of growing up on the farm in Kansas, then moving into the city, the city market, corn cobs and always the hills, the houses, her dead husband, the cakes she’s baked over the years, the ones she’d like to bake, a little more Frenchified, Spanishified, fancier, dreams about the Kansas farm fields, horses, cows, a voice in her dreams asking “Why didn’t you ever raise chickens?,” dreams of her grandchildren in Boston growing up too fast without her there, what should she get them for Christmas-Chanukah, for their birthdays, the fourth of July, maybe they’ll come to see her in the summer and they can go to the lake, go to the parks, malls, icecream cones and zoos, doesn’t want to wake up, really, her dreams are the way she wants her world, waking up means old lady disability, never enough money, always over-spending , and she has her Ph.D., why doesn’t she just get a job in a lab somewhere making slides...but that’s not her any more, is it, they’d convinced her for a while that she was Ms. Student-Intellectual, but it never was the real her, the real her was Mother Eve in the Garden of Paradise, Father Sun and Mother Earth....oh, how far the world had drifted away from Mother Trees and Mother Earth, bears and people, womb-world, breast-world, children-world....

She would wake up and have to get up and urinate, a sudden move from happy sleeptime reality to the unreality of waking up.

3.

Urinates, stands in front of the mirror in her long white nineteenth centuryish flannel gown, her hair all tied up on top of her head, a big glob of fat under her chin, almost wrinkleless until she turns, tries to smile, and then it’s like a just-plowed spring field: “Je ne te connais, Vous etes une unconnu. Je voudrais commençer dormir plus, retourner au realité de mon lit. / I don’t know you, You’re a stranger, I want to go back and sleep more, to back to the reality of my bed. I need my corn-fields again, my dogs and cats and chicken coops. This is too much for me to handle. Where are my kids and my husband (looking up at the ceiling and beyond), ARE YOU UP THERE, JOE, ARE YOU THERE? ,” waits, no answer, she talks to the ceiling, beyond the ceiling, “I’ll be with you soon enough,” climbs into bed, she’s in the fields by her sister Marty’s house, Marty’s horses all around her, and she’s feeling them apples, has an apron full of apples, then Marty’s dogs come, all five of them, no problem with the horses, “See what I mean....feel, feel, feel...all is right with the dream....world....as long as I’m part of it.,” she pulls her blankets around her, arranges the pillows and slowly slides down the rivers of dreams into her prehistoric-nineteenth century existential territory.

(C)opyright 2007 Hugh Fox All Rights Reserved

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