From “A Bottle of Wine”
by Garnett Kilberg Cohen
Each of Edge’s five children was fathered by a different man. The first one she had married at age 19 in a ceremony attended by 500 guests, bridesmaids in salmon-colored gowns, and a reception that included chorus after chorus of champagne corks popping. After that, she hadn’t bothered with marriage. And after Jay, father of her youngest, she gave up on men entirely.
Edge, short for Margaret Edgerton, met Jay at the Lucky Links where her oldest boy, Marston, had Saturday golf lessons. At that time in the seventies, golf was still considered a game of the establishment. But Edge wanted her children to have a variety of skills and she imagined a sort of Zen wisdom in golf. Her vision was reinforced by assertions that she overheard Jay say to Marston like “you have to let go of power to create power.”
Watching Jay instruct Marston was one of the few times Edge was able to get time by herself. Her oldest, Alice, probably too young legally to babysit—though more than mature enough in behavior—watched her then-youngest, Ernest, while her other daughter, Robin, spent the day with her father.
Edge sat under a willow tree reading while she ate a lunch of organic chicken on homemade bread and drank freshly squeezed lemonade from a jelly jar. She usually only spoke to Jay at the beginning and end of each lesson, but noticed him throughout—what he said and how he moved, his hands on her son’s bony elbows. Jay’s face had burned and tanned so many times that his skin reminded her of tree bark, brown peeled away to reveal gold, then peeled again to deep scarlet. The mixture of colors enhanced his green eyes. Veins wound down his arms like heavy electrical cords charging the muscles in his hands that clutched the club. He was her type, Edge thought, though she wasn’t certain what her type was, given that the fathers of her children had been so physically different from one another. The first, her only husband, had been a blonde and freckled fraternity boy; the second, a University of Chicago graduate student in Mathematics from India; the third a local folk singer; and the fourth, a married black dentist. Yet in a way she could sense, but not articulate, they were all the same.
In August, Edge told Jay that Marston would have to miss his last lesson because a repair man was coming right as the lesson ended, and she would neither be able to stay through the lesson or pick him up.
“Where do you live?” Jay asked.
It was what she had hoped he would say.
“North Racine.” Edge fingered the tip of the thick single braid that she wore strung over one shoulder. She wasn’t able to look him in the eye. His gaze unnerved her.
“He’s my last lesson that day. Lots of vacation cancellations. I could swing him home.”
“Sure, if it’s not out of your way,” she said, and—not waiting for an answer—wrote her number on the tiny pad made up of discarded paper scraps she had stapled and kept in her purse....
From Theodore Cross: Portfolio
From “Wish You Weren’t Here: Selected 20th Century Postcards”
by Dennis Trudell
(Alligators, Everglades National Park, Fla.)
They’ll kill him tomorrow; nothing anyone can do now except the Gov. and he’s at fund raiser and will no doubt have good night’s sleep. I won’t of course, but will keep him company the only way I can. Only had 12 minutes today and for the first half he was too dazed and shaking to focus on me or talk. Then suddenly calmed, though had to spit hunk of inner cheek had bitten. Then his voice so brave I couldn’t see him, and that blur through tears was my last sight
by Chase Twichell
I’m conscious of my bones
where they touch the porcelain.
The tub stays cold beneath
the water’s heat,
so the two colds
recognize each other,
in a grotto of earthly delights,
the tile overhead,
the perfumed foam
I lie beneath.
A word alighting
on the tongue-tip,
then gone again…
And my eye’s are changing.
Oh, the fussing over glasses.
The mind sees its own machines
blacken and break down,
beaten back into the earth
near the railroad bed:
wire carts, sodden nests
beneath the overpass.
Who sleeps there,
among the dead umbrellas?
Uh oh, I’m lying here glistening
and warm in the River Styx
thinking of death again,
bones in a catacomb.
A trickle keeps it hot,
but the suds are gone.
Look at my 53-year-old-legs,
starting to ache
for their last lover, the dirt.