(Baroque: When you’re out of Monet)
Ahhh! My Louvre-loving Literati!
From time to time (actually, almost always) the graphics that I use to amplify a story submitted are a bit of a stretch…In this instance, the stretch of a canvas over a frame. But to me this makes perfect sense. Mike Stang is an impressionistic writer. A few words dusted upon a page leaving the impression of a thought. Dust only until you step back from the canvas and can see the whole. Dust as the dust of the wings of a butterfly, color of words in flight or words and story hovering. Nuance requires a light touch, and collective impression. Others write stories with nuts and bolts. Heavy. Well-constructed. Grounded. But Michael’s stories fly. At least, that’s the impression I get. See if you agree.
I Love You Too
By Michael Stang
“What, Frank. Can’t you see…”
“How can I see anything with you stuffed in the corner all the time sitting and doing what you do?”
Clinks that muffle behind her overstuffed chair tell her age. Use to be, Ma could hide it from the best of them. Now she leaks, makes mistakes, and could care less. Frank doesn’t care either, he knows the pain she goes through, and maybe the whiskey helps. His own stash is never far away; up above in the cabinet where the phone hangs on the wall. No excuses.
“Letter came in the mail today. Not sure who, but I can hardly read it. Full of single short sentences, lots of commas.”
“Got your glasses on?”
“Yes—I have my goddamn glasses on. Jesus woman!”
“I will listen if you put out that stinking pipe. You know the smoke hunts me, it’s enough to choke a horse.”
I should have known. Frank grits his teeth.
Declaration is the path home,
Love’s instructions towed to the door.
Every step it’s not you but what I think of you,
Silver light to the end of the road.
Am I reading this right? Who would send such stuff? It’s three pages long!”
Ma shifts her crutches to the other side for the hundredth time and reaches back again. Interesting, she thinks.
“Do you hear me?”
“Yes, Frank, just fine. Do you think me deaf as well?”
“And there are other things…farther down. Things about horizons and breasts, and woman’s curves, between the legs—I don’t know. Maybe you should read this for yourself; it makes no sense to me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, you old fool. Try it again.”
Frank stubs out his cigarette. She’s so smart, always with the pipe, but it’s only a rumor.
Our purchase lay in debt,
Bones taked from body’s dust.
Form around each other,
What are these bindings but our own.
“WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?” Frank says as he lifts from the chair in the kitchen and reaches for the cabinet over the phone.
Ma sighs and looks out onto the front yard. Shall I kill him…or let him live.
“Bring it here you goat.”
Frank turns the corner and gasps seeing his wife of fifty-six years. The sounds of their youth flapping in his ears.
Ma searches for her glasses until Frank points them out on her head.
“Give the letter to me.”
You look as I do,
The looking glass of years.
Pressed as one against deaths,
We are we,
Until our dying breath.
“Listening? Stop fooling with your hands.”
Frank quiets and takes a seat on the edge of the leg-rest. His eyes survey the ace bandages that hold her arthritis; the old man takes off his glasses.
“Mary, I know how this ends.”
“You don’t know anything,” Ma smiles. “I love you too.”