Below is Part 20 of 23 monthly installments for Visitant.
The Dodie Medallions
Folding her hair into origami signets, Agnes Person celebrates summer’s close with a swan’s song. She will hum Mozart’s lighter operas and busy herself this long Labor Day weekend cleaning silver. About time, she thinks, pleased by the thought of a silver spoon in her child’s pretty mouth.
Agnes holds two polished grapefruit spoons to the light, and two faces appear in duo reflections. Elongate, their heads must have been strapped to cradleboards in childhood. She stands the spoons on end and both faces become fat necks — flaccid, glandular.
Left spoonhead has no ears or are they growing in? Like succulents. Maybe they have slipped down the side of the skull like gill slits seeking lung status. Trying to evolve for life on land.
Agnes tips the spoons and turns them face to face: Great Lakes whitefish meets Olmec chub king—fish panting out of water, child laughing out of time.
Agnes turns the spoons away from the light. She cheers herself with thoughts of playing happy spoon games with little Adria. Sleep tight, she whispers to the spoons, and gently replaces white fish and royal pretender side by side in the slotted velvet casement.
But Agnes cannot put her questions to rest. What if something awful happens in her womb? Can she love an elliptical Olmec or fish twin as her own? Can Olmec or fish twin love her? Is Adria a safe name-choice, given the moody Adriatic Sea and trawler oil slicks?
Would she better name her child for a woman with an open face? Like her mother Doris — Dodie as her dad called her on the salad years of their marriage.
Agnes thumbs through a family album. To her dismay, she cannot recognize her mother among four sisters posing arm in arm on porch steps. She puzzles over a team photo of beaming teen girls with field hockey sticks and a huge championship trophy. Is her mother the skinny one with frozen bangs? She expects her mother to look like dated medallions of herself. But maybe this girl is one of the sisters, her aunt sent away to boarding school because she liked kissing boys. Or was it girls?
What about this photo of people around a loaded Thanksgiving table. The grown-ups smile, point to the big bird. A freckled boy pulls a girl’s pigtail, but where are the pictures of her, Agnes? Why the blank spaces with little bits of tape, now yellow and brittle to the touch? After all these years, where has she gone?
Disappointed with the album, Agnes flips on the History Channel, a rerun of a famous Barbara Walters interview.
Queen the house? Agnes knows lispy Walters means Clean the house.
Find the house, answers a young Fidel, handsome as the Devil in army fatigues.
Touching the round of her belly, Agnes decides to find new digs.
Finding piece…Barbar, queen of the airwaves, interrupts.
Finding peace is seeking peace, Castro continues with emphasis. Let oxen replace trucks and bicycles replace cars. Bring on sweet silence. Sssh. He winks at Walters and whispers, Politics is for robbers.
Lobbers, murmurs Walters.
Lovers, mouths Fidel.
Yes, tired of traffic noise and pollution, Agnes will move TN, the fishbowl queens, and mugged succulents to a quiet side street wide enough for ox carts.
Seeking peace, she will ride a bicycle and find motherhood peace by peace. She will love her baby — Olmec or fish twin. She will show the one how to swim, the other how to comb hair.
You silenced Cuba with swan songs of hand-cut sugar cane, Agnes chides Castro. I’ll be my own beast of burden.
Fidel smiles, blinks, but makes no reply.
► Next Installment| Slipper Moon Apts.