Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Junius Mnemonic

by Deborah Woodard

Obviously you belong together. Oliver and Olivia climb into the old
rattrap of the aged gent and make a pledge as one. And so it came to be:
the cane on a series of grey steps and a domestic named Rebecca in a lilac sweater 
dragging off fall leaves in a paper bag. As for Olivia, she was shot at, then committed. 
Now recovering. Junius had his own driver and three rooms. When he wanted to go 
downtown for a hamburger, he tapped.  His cane of hardy knobs was streaked. 
In the hospital, Olivia began to draw. She’d been moved into the solace of an alcove.  
For Oliver, a shed came to mind. Junius raised dogs. Where’s my coat, wondered 
Olivia?  Did they turn my collar like newsprint?  The story of Junius 
ran in the paper. They’d paid him an honorarium for remembering— 
in his eighties: a mute black man castrated long ago. Flanked by his fine yellow cane, 
Junius was taught ASL. The Old Raleigh Sign in which he conversed easily 
meant any day has its unmaimed cherry tree. Good, and a cottage in the shadows.  
Olivia was discharged. The kids bummed a ride downtown for a hamburger.
Me, too, for the air and teabag.  I folded Olivia’s coat like the evening paper.  

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