A Blessing from My Sixteen Years' Son
By Mary Karr
for Dev Milburn
I have this son who assembled inside me
during Hurricane Gloria. In a flash, he appeared,
in a tiny blaze. Outside, pines toppled.
Phone lines snapped and hissed like cobras.
Inside, he was a raw pearl: microscopic, luminous.
Look at the muscled obelisk of him now
pawing through the icebox for more grapes.
Sixteen years and not a bone broken,
nor single stitch. By his age,
I was marked more ways, and small.
He's a slouching six-foot three,
with implausible blue eyes, which settle
on the pages of Emerson's "Self-Reliance"
with profound belligerence.
A girl with a navel ring
could make his cell phone go buzz,
or an Afro-ed boy leaning on a mop at Taco Bell--
creatures strange to me as dragons or eels.
Balanced on a kitchen stool, each gives counsel
arcane as any oracle's. Rodney claims school
is harshing my mellow. Case longs to date
a tattooed girl, because he wants a woman
willing to do stuff she'll regret.
They've come to lead my son
into his broadening spiral.
Someday soon, the tether
will snap. I birthed my own mom
into oblivion. The night my son smashed
the car fender then rode home
in the rain-streaked cop car, he asked, Did you
and Dad screw up so much?
He'd let me tuck him in,
my grandmother's wedding quilt
from 1912 drawn to his goateed chin. Don't
blame us, I said. You're your own
idiot now. At which he grinned.
The cop said the girl in the crimped Chevy
took it hard. He'd found my son
awkwardly holding her in the canted headlights,
where he'd draped his own coat
over her shaking shoulders. My fault,
he'd confessed right off.
Nice kid, said the cop.
It was as warm on Tuesday as it was on Monday, though overcast all day, with big thunderstorms moving in just as I got back from dropping younger son off at Hebrew school. I had Thai food with gblvr -- tom ka gai soup, such a big bowl that I brought half of it home for lunch later in the week -- and we went to Target, where Easter is the new Valentine's Day which is in turn the new Halloween. Stuffed Peeps, plastic Peeps, egg-shaped Peeps, and all the baskets and stuffed bunnies and chicks and the disco duckies and frog that we bought because who can resist? And went to Bath & Body Works, too, because free tote bags are always worth having. Especially with orchids on them. Speaking of orchids:
I watched New Amsterdam with quite a bit of ambivalence; lastscorpion linked me to this article in which the producers of the series claimed not to know anything about Highlander or to have read Pete Hamill's novel Forever, which screams of lying bullshit to me -- this series has nearly everything in common with the novel but Amsterdam's profession, and Amsterdam has his own Joe Dawson. Hamill said it's not worth his time to sue, since he figures he'll be dead before the case is settled and he'd rather spend that time with his grandchildren, but it seems like robbery to me, and by the time New Amsterdam aired, I didn't even want to like it. However, I must report that I did.
I knew I would like the cast; I've liked Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in everything I've ever seen him in, which is most of his work in English, and I liked Zuleikha Robinson in Hidalgo and The Namesake and Rome...hmm, I've seen pretty much everything she's done, too. They are quite enjoyable together, which is good because the crime story of this episode is pretty thin -- no one's going to have any more trouble solving it than the protagonists. His condescension is a bit easier for me to take than a lot of male cops with female partners on other shows I've seen since he really is a paternal figure where she's concerned, even if he doesn't look it. It's kind of fun that he can make classic furniture and recognize murals for which he modeled because he's lived in the city for so long. And funny to see him at AA meetings, bragging about how long he's been sober and having no one believe him.
The "never saw Highlander" line is indeed a crock -- in addition to Omar-Joe the watcher-bartender, there's an ad running for Thursday night's episode where a kid asks Detective Amsterdam what happens if he gets his head chopped off and Amsterdam jokes that that's never happened to him. But there are many common structural elements with Forever from the era of Amsterdam's immortality to finding his true love as the key to his release...the show even keeps my favorite aspect of the novel, which is that the city itself is as much a character as the people who live there. I love New York stories. Whether this one can build enough mythology to be better than a police procedural, which is a genre I don't often love, remains to be seen.
I'm watching the election returns and thinking I shouldn't because it stresses me out. I mean, Huckabee being out is all to the good, but the Democrats are making me bite my nails and all this is interspersed with the flood and tornado watches in the area and the sound of our sump pump at work. Maybe I will have some Moscato!