By Scott Brennan
Featured Art: The Rose Cloud by Henri-Edmond Cross
A Barbie with gum in her hair, a Lite-Brite that may or may not turn on,
and Monopoly played once or twice then stowed, the Chance cards
missing, the Scottie dog lost, the dice gone. Here, the Boggle bubble,
cracked. In a milk crate beside the games, we have the tools: a hacksaw,
a cordless Black and Decker drill, a Stanley hammer, a rat-tail file,
a Phillips screwdriver. Here’s a Schwinn bicycle with dry-rot tires, and,
arranged upon the lawn, an array of shirts and shorts, neckties, jeans
and sundresses, tennis shoes and sandals that I suppose still have
a little life left in them, and mismatched luggage—that the Samsonite covered
with a collection of bumper stickers, “This Car Climbed Pikes Peak,”
“See Onondaga Cave,” but in the photo album I’ve just picked up
and am flipping through (a bargain at $2, I suppose) everything looks
new. Somebody must have died. I don’t like to pry, it’s none
of my business, but why is a man in a tuxedo on a diving board?
On the next page, the same guy on and on, the story sometimes out
of sequence. A pregnant woman in a bikini reclines in a kiddie pool.
She’s rubbing Hawaiian Tropic on her belly, grins lasciviously
at the camera, followed by pictures of a girl’s First Communion,
then more pictures of the man. He is heavier now, losing his hair,
the 4th of July in the Smokies, two kids waving sparklers, a campfire,
marshmallows on long sticks, a Coleman stove, followed by a page
of him posing beside an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, circa 1986,
and now he’s waxing it, now he’s behind the wheel, and then we have
the final photos in the album, the man bald, the woman with thick glasses
and hair dyed blond (her dark roots showing), her arm around the shoulder
of an elderly woman, her grandmother, perhaps, who sits in a wheelchair
decorated with helium balloons and pink-and-white crepe paper.
It’s her 90th birthday, according to the writing on the cake surrounded
by two smiling nurses and confused children wearing pointed party hats,
her blue-veined hands pressed flat upon the table.
Scott Brennan is a writer and visual artist living in Miami, Florida. His debut collection of poetry, Raft Made of Seagull Feathers, was published by Main Street Rag Press in January of 2020. His poetry has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, The Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, The Sewanee Review, Smithsonian, and elsewhere. He was a winner of the 2014 William Stafford Award sponsored by Rosebud magazine and the recipient of the Scotti Merrill Award given by the Key West Literary Seminars and Writers’ Workshop.
Originally published in NOR 18: Fall 2015