Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Memory pie

I been sittin here at the kitchen table with my coffee and toast -- some kind of burnt-tasting seven-grain loaf. Feels like I'm chewin on lemon pits. Another drizzly morning and breakfast is a chore and a bore.

I watch the starlings pick through the muck in the gutter and listen to them chatter, squeak and cluck. Who knows? Their conversation makes just as much sense as the radio news. Swine flu. Pakistani violence. The President reads books. Boston beat New York. Tax reform. I get up and shut it off. Maybe it's some kind of code.

Yesterday I pulled dozens of dandelions out of the lawn. It took a deep twist of the blade to pop those stubborn taproots. Got the blisters to prove it. No doubt they'll be back. When Cholly lived next door, he'd just let them grow. "Nothin wrong with dandelions." He jerked his head toward the frontyard. "A couple of years ago I tried to weed 'em out. They just came back thicker than ever. In the fall, Rose'll make a salad out of the leaves. A little bitter but they say they're good for you, lots of vitamins. And the bees like 'em. So now I just let them be."

I liked his laissez-faire approach to the lawn. But yesterday it felt good to jab that length of steel into the soil and rip out those plants. Sometimes you gotta weed if you wanna stay sane. Afterwards the robins had a ball pickin through the upturned dirt.

A yellow-rumped warbler steadies himself on a tiny branch in the white pine. Good to see him again. He cocks his head and starts to sing. Listenin to his trills, I remember a song Quist used to sing when he'd had a coupla whiskies in him.

Oh baby let me have one more slice of your memory pie.
Heat it up in your lovin cup and I'll eat it up, no lie.
Apple peach cherry, pumpkin cream pecan,
Honey it's for your tart rouge-barbe I long,
Lemon curd is so nice -- can't I have just one more slice
Of your memory pie?

Quist would let his voice fade on the last three words. Then he'd cackle. "Hey poot, this skin I'm wearin -- whose is it really? Mebbe it's just something I borrowed from the skin bank. Get my own back tomorrow when the sun comes up."

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