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Communing with Mama
8/25/1997, published in Sept. 2001,
All these days at home, with the bright sunlight from three directions and the wind billowing, at times slamming shut the bathroom door and setting to sputter the dust bunnies who've escaped my Hoover's suck set me to thinking on how Mama did it stayed at home, I mean, with the laundry, and the kitchen, and the cleaning of surfaces. My Mama moment came while ironing on the fold-down ironing board my fourth or fifth shirt. All day I'd been productive, fixing the closet door that wouldn't stay shut, gradually unpacking more of my boxes, throwing out box carcasses, and of course, engaging in the cleaning of plates and floors and bathroom ceramic. What kind of life, this wifery?
Her days were vastly different of course, with the many kids and kid-related chores, the overseas-employed husband, the parents down the street and the obligation of an almost-daily visit: Honour thy father and thy mother. Here, I've no children, no pets, only the faintest glimmer of possible future husband, two o'clock sweat, mirror-visible waist fat, no propensity for bearing children of my own, and a one-bedroom hardwood-floored apartment, third floor up, in Lake Merritt, Oakland, California, where, I understand, lots of gays are moving in, because the rents are so much cheaper than San Fran, and, hey, it's just across the Bay Bridge.
At one or two or three I climb the filthy green stairwell behind the building to spend some time on the roof. Someone's established a weight-bench there, with accompanying weather-proof dumbbell box. I try to bench-press, but the barbell is hung on safety catches just outside my reach. The roof next door has a clothesline, alive with wind-filled laundry. It sags from one little roof-room to the other. I try the door of the little roof-room on my own building and steal a view of the 1940s engine that still pulls the cables to our rickety, caged elevator. Descending the stairwell, I notice that Dominic's building has solar power panels on its roof.
Back inside I pad about in bare feet, accumulating a leather sole of soil before committing to sit on the tub, run the warm water, and brush those dogs clean with my little aquamarine hand-brush. Then tamping on gray floor-towel, then drying of the lower legs, then socks, clean socks for now, to go about again conveying in the Asian Way, leaving the shoes at the door, for the outside world, where cars congregate and shout late afternoons, homeless people curse and shoot their rage in any available direction, where all of the things in this apartment once came from, deals are made, careers destroyed, engines combust internally and poison externally in doing their tough job of shuttling passengers from meeting to gas station to Safeway to Jiffy Lube: all those little secrets out there, somewhere, in the land of the missing husbands.
David Saia edits moocat.net. His work has been published and produced in several venues, including The Daily Reveille, The Culture Report, New Delta Review, and the now-defunct San Francisco Review.Got feedback on this page? Share it with the moocat!
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