NaPoWriMo #17

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

 Some Enchanted Evening 

I’m not sure who I was at five, when I’d sit in a room listening to a record player and turning the pages to the accompanying books. Gingerbread Man?  Snow White?  I was in the stories and loved them, the books and voices together, but then the singing would start, the men lowering their voices to some exaggerated masculine tone, the women rising into a trilling soprano, taking off into an unearned beauty. Suspicious artifice.  Fake-y it sounded to me.  Who were they trying to fool?  What did they hope to gain? 

In the family stories, my mother could walk down a street at night as a teenager, point at a streetlight, and it would go out.  Why was she walking down the street at night? People did that a lot more back then, I suppose.  Or some kind of family legacy of allowing the children to wander.  At its best it was “don’t keep your children on a leash because when you have to let them go, they’ll run into traffic.”  At its worst, a legacy of alcoholism, the children escaping into adventures.  Left to their own devices.  We were encouraged not to talk about that because “people believe the story you tell them.”  

Anyway, she could point at a streetlight and—POP! 

I imagine our family magic as little loud firecrackers thrown at the feet to distract from how painful it is to live.  Not fake, but extra. 

My mother could sing, and still can I suppose, even sitting at a table in Minnesota blearing into early middle age, contemplating not being alive because of whatever was crackling in her brain.  Telling us, her children, about it in the car on the way to the library branch.  Even then, suddenly her voice could rise, floating above us at the kitchen table. Was it “Some Enchanted Evening”? No, something from My Fair Lady, a phrase that came up in conversation. Her soprano lifting like that, not trilling and fake-y, but lifting like a ribbon out of her where she sat, a woman stuck in place here on earth.  

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