in The Island Review
on The Feminine Collective
“That Good Night”
I hear Dad’s axe before I see him. As my car crunches farther into the gravel drive, there he is, framed by the breezeway between the garage and the house. He’s chopping wood by the old shed, drawing his arms upward in a long arc, made longer by the axe he holds in his hands. Chink! There’s a rhythm to it. Thump! With each blow, he lets go a “Woof!” or a “Huff!” Anyone can see there’s plenty of wood to keep the stove going for weeks. And it’s 1979 for heaven sakes. He and mother have an electric range for the warm weather.
I close the car door softly because I don’t think he’s heard me. This is hardly surprising since he’s deafer than he pretends nowadays, and he’s making a good racket anyway. In his obsession, he probably doesn’t realize his pauses–two since I’ve arrived–to run the backs of his hands roughly across his cheeks.
And here I must pause in order to absorb the gravity of this scene: My father is chopping wood out of season at mid day on a Sunday, wearing his best gray flannels and within hailing distance of his church.
(See the entire story in issue 195 of The Antigonish Review.)
“Can he hear me?”
“No way to know if he can.” Roseanne. “But they say the hearing’s the last to go.”
I know she believes that. She’s been taking care to step outside with the important questions: How much longer? Will he open his eyes? What if he s tops breathing before the rest of them get here?
“I’m here, Dad,” says Gerald.
I know you are, Son.
(See the entire story in Issue 9 of Firewords Magazine.)
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Photos: Feature photo of gulls at plowing time, “Breathe” and “Blind Ambition” by Brian McInnis; Sr. Columba’s Grade 5 Class, courtesy Brian Henry‘s Quick Brown Fox; “Hill 145” by Ruth Edgett.