Sons make choices and, like it or not, it’s the mother’s job to support, which is to say I never liked his wife. A charming boy, he’s needed a lot of support. I don’t like thinking of him there, fragile in the heartless city, cocooned in that apartment alone with her, turning into what. I know he thinks of me. I saw my picture hung beside his shaving mirror on my only visit. Since then, I think she’s convinced him I have died. My picture sees him while he shaves. He winks at me. I watch his troubled eyes and wonder what went wrong in his genes to make him choose her. She flashes past the bathroom door while I watch, foggy, intermittent, tossing sarcastic comments over her shoulder. She’s a wit. I’m thinking of shaving my mustache, he says, as if she’s fed him the words to say to break a mother’s heart. He might as well dig up the grave and shave his father’s mustache! He wouldn’t. If I reach him, he won’t. I open my tiny, my glossy, my black and white thin-lipped mouth, the only mouth I have in the room, to plead with him not to. It’s his last link to health. He looks at me. He looks at his father who loved his life and married his mother for better or worse and smiles at us while he lathers. I am screaming. There is a thickness to a photograph. Universes fit within this fraction. I have full lips within this plane and shoulders, lungs, the will to be heard, and life proceeds from here in unexpected directions. Someone is behind him. What will it sound like, my black-and-white cry? He bends toward the water. I look into the pitiless eyes of his wife.

Copyright © June 27, 2007 David Hodges