In Which The Recently Widowed Callie Soames Takes A Moment To Reflect On This And That

There are the mysteries of life, those of faith

(Leastwise according to Pastor, though I suspect

That is the get out of jail free card one acquires

By standing upright in the pulpit)

But death is a pretty clear-cut thing,

Going about its business all methodically,

Like a combine up one row and down the other,

And even if it’s a sudden thing,

(Folks coming up to you at the wake in some aunt’s parlor,

Patting you on the forearm, absently, mechanically,

Purring At least he went quickly, dear)

It’s all down to any number of things,

Small, unobserved, nothing you’d notice at the time,

Like geese, one here and two there,

Flying to no place in particular

Until they darken the sky with their huge V;

Why, even when old Kuzitski the junkman

Ran his truck off the road up off the Hancock Road

And burned himself up all to hell,

That had been stalking him for days, years,

Maybe from birth.


Every once in a while, I will run into one of the girls from school

(Only on occasion, mind you–I suspect most of them

Go out of their way to avoid me, as where my life has led

Is a strange, almost monstrous thing to them)

And most often there is just idle chit-chat

About how dry the weather has been,

And how they opened a new Jamesway over in Walton,

But if there is someone who occupied that niche

Of best-friend or something akin to that,

Someone who shared sleep-overs and cigarettes,

They will ask me (quietly, almost conspiratorially)

How my newly minted singularity is a blessing in disguise,

Saying breezily Why, just think of what you can do…

Trailing off to nowhere when they see the toddler

Wound around my legs, and then they understand

The weight of motherhood, of mortgages and monthly notices,

The unrelenting gravity of the whole thing.

(When you have buried a husband,

A good man who was the only port in a storm

When what passes for fun, Adam and Eve’s knowledge,

Goes all pear-shaped on you;

You get a goodly glimpse of what is and is not.)

Some of the girls I graduated with have gone further ,

Broadening themselves, as some maiden aunt would say;

They float back into town come Thanksgiving and Christmas,

On break from the teachers’ colleges at Cortland or New Paltz,

And I can hear them breathlessly nattering on

About all they’ve learned on evaluating children,

Standard-testing and psychology-textbook regurgitation,

And it is all I can do not to spit,

Not to turn on them and yell

You do not know the first damn thing about any damn thing,

But I let it pass–they will find out plenty soon enough,

It will find them all in its own time.




(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have been remiss in noting that Ms. Soames, her recently departed husband Henry, and the late, lamented S.J. Kuzitski all are borrowed from the John Gardner novel Nickel Mountain.








2 thoughts on “In Which The Recently Widowed Callie Soames Takes A Moment To Reflect On This And That

  1. I’m still tempted to sneak up on the rail in the hopes someone goes all Davey Johnson circa 1973 or whenever he suddenly hit all those home runs; someone often does in the madness of 2 am as small samples and bar lights get thrown out the window and everybody gets reborn.

  2. Always a special treat to read one of your narratives. i am not familiar with the text that inspired these characters, but you have brought them to life with great flair for both the comic and human.

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