Sunday, August 23, 2009

Randy Describes Eternity to My Little Brother
by CL Bledsoe

R: Okay, so there's this bird.
MLB: What kind of bird?
R: I don't know. A bird. A raven.
MLB: What's a raven?
R: Sort of like a blackbird but bigger.
MLB: Blackbirds are bad. They eat crops. In school, Mrs. Thermon told us blackbirds are pests. They eat crops and they sit on power lines and go number 2 on your car.
R: All birds do that.
MLB: But blackbirds--
R: All birds do that. Besides, it's not a blackbird. It's just like a blackbird. Only bigger. Okay?
MLB: . . .
R: So anyway, the bird, the raven flies to this mountain every century.
MLB: You don't have to yell at me.
R: What?
MLB: Mommy says it's not polite to yell. Every time she yells, I get ice cream.
R: What? I didn't yell.
MLB: Yes you did.
R: No I didn't.
MLB: You're yelling now.
R: . . .
MLB: . . .
R: Okay. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell.
MLB: That's okay.
R: Good. So, anyway it takes the bird a century to get there, to the mountain—
MLB: Is it flying Northwest Air?
R: What?
MLB: They're really slow. When we went to see Grampa last July, we had to stand in line for like three hours to get through security--
R: No, see--
MLB: And when we got to the front of the line, they said we'd missed the flight, and they had to reschedule us for later so we had to wait another couple hours. And Mommy yelled at the security guy and they almost escorted her out of the building.
R: Well travel can go like that nowadays.
MLB: I got ice cream.
R: Good for you.
MLB: Ever since Daddy moved back to Detroit, I get ice cream.
R: . . .
MLB: When somebody yells at me, or when I have to hear somebody yell.
R: Well, different people have different parenting techniques.
MLB: Like you just yelled at me. That would be an example of when I might get ice cream.
R: I apologized for that already. Look, are you going to listen to this or not?
MLB: It's just that you're a little loud.
R: . . .
MLB: At Brewsters, if you go when it's raining they give you a free scoop.
R: . . .
MLB: It's really good.
R: It's not raining.
MLB: They have ice cream all the time, but when it's raining, it's free. One scoop. But that's all Mommy let's me have anyway. We always go when it's raining.
R: I'll keep that in mind. So this bird—
MLB: The raven.
R: Yes. That's very good. The raven flies to the mountain and it takes it a century—
MLB: It only took us five hours. But that's still a long time. Mommy cried in the bathroom. She didn't think I knew, but I could tell. Her makeup around her eyes ran.
R: Yeah, well a century is even longer than five hours. So when it gets to the mountain, it sharpens it's beak.
MLB: Why?
R: Oh, so it can eat things. Nuts and things. Easier. More easily. A beak is sort of like a pair of scissors. And it has to keep them sharp—
MLB: Mrs. Thermon says the only thing sharp scissors cut is you, so we—
R: You use safety scissors. I know, but the raven, it's like Mrs. Thermon. It can use big people scissors. It has to cut through roots and stuff. So it can eat.
MLB: . . .
R: So anyway, the raven sharpens its beak, and then it turns around and flies home. Which takes another century.
MLB: It should use a cup.
R: What?
MLB: A cup. To sharpen its beak. Daddy always used to sharpen the knives on cups, back when he still loved Mommy.
R: . . .
MLB: On the bottom. Or a saucer.
R: Well, it doesn't have any cups. Some people are less fortunate than you. They don't have cups. Or saucers. They're poor.
MLB: Like the people that shop at Kmart?
R: Yes. The raven shops at Kmart. Okay, so the raven goes to the mountain. Takes it a century. It sharpens it's beak, then it flies home. Another century. Okay? So when it has done this so many times that it has worn the mountain down flat, that's eternity.
MLB: How big is the mountain?
R: Really big. Like the Himalayas.
MLB: Grampa lives in the mountains. In Denver.
R: Yeah, okay, like those mountains.
MLB: Grampa smells. One night, he came into my bedroom and was calling me Margaret. That was Gramma's name before she died.
R: Okay . . .
MLB: He kept saying it over and over. Margaret. Margaret. Then he got into bed with me and went to sleep. He was really loud. He snored. I couldn't sleep so I went in Mommy's room and slept in her bed with her.
R: Fascinating.
MLB: Then, when we got up in the morning, we found him in my bed and he'd wet the bed.
R: . . .
MLB: So if I had been in the bed, still, he'd have gotten it all over me.
R: You're very lucky.
MLB: I know.
R: So, do you understand what I'm saying? About the raven and the mountain, how it wears down the mountain, and when it's all gone, that's eternity?
MLB: No.
R: Okay. You understand the bird? That there's this bird?'
MLB: Yeah.
R: And it flies to this mountain and it takes the bird a century to get there. That's one hundred years. That's like your grampa's entire life and your mommy's entire life added together. It's a long time. So it takes the bird a really long time to get to the mountain. Understand?
MLB: Yeah, I guess.
R: Good. So it sharpens it's beak, which only wears a little bitty bit of the mountain away. Then it flies home. Which takes another century. And when it has done this so many times that the mountain has been worn away, that's eternity. Understand?
MLB: . . .
R: Well? Do you understand?
MLB: You're going to yell at me again.
R: No, I'm not. I just want you to understand.
MLB: You're going to yell and I won't even get ice cream. You already yelled and I didn't get any.
R: No, I won't--
MLB: I'm supposed to get ice cream. Mommy always gets me ice cream when she slips.
R: I won't yell at you.
MLB: Promise?
R: Yes. I promise.
MLB: Well, the thing is . . .
R: Yes?
MLB: Blackbirds don't live that long.
R: . . .
MLB: Mrs. Thermon said they only live fifteen to twenty years. So how could it take a hundred years to get there and a hundred to get back?
R: It was a raven.
MLB: Still. That's like a blackbird, you said.
R: . . .
MLB: You're going to yell at me aren't you?
R: . . .
MLB: I mean, maybe it's this family of ravens that fly to the mountain?
R: Maybe. Yes, that's it. It's a family.
MLB: Except they'd have to stop to nest.
R: . . .
MLB: One time Mommy found a nest of wrens in her hibiscus. She had this hibiscus hanging over the front door, outside, on the porch. And some wrens nested in it. So she had to stop watering the hibiscus because it was scaring the momma bird away.
R: . . .
MLB: Grampa said that's good luck. When a bird nests at your house.
R: . . .
MLB: The eggs had little speckles in them. There were four of them and all four hatched and flew away.
R: That's nice.
MLB: Then Mommy got really sad and said that some day I'll fly away, and she had to go to the bathroom again and when she came out her makeup was messed up around her eyes.
R: Huh.
MLB: Cause she was crying.
R: . . .
MLB: . . .
R: . . .
MLB:
R: Hey, it's raining. You want some ice cream?
MLB: Okay.
R: Get your coat.

6 comments:

Glenn Buttkus said...

Nice that you rediscovered this little gem. What is your little brother up to these days? In the story he seems about 8-9 years old. Whoever Randy was, he had a great heart, and the patience of a teacher. Of course, as real as this appears, it might be just a fictional foray. I liked the flow,
the balance of it, and the symbolism/analogy with the raven; all kind of Native American and
Mr. Natural blended with Bledsoe
insight as it were. I posted it for the pleasure(s) of many over on my site too.

Glenn

CLBledsoe said...

Thanks. It's purely fictional. I don't have a little brother. "Randy Describes Eternity" is the name of a song by Built To Spill. I don't know if this would count as something like ekphrastic. I couldn't think of a better title.

You know, I once won a nonfiction award for a piece of fiction. It was a story called "Yellow Submarine." After it was published (as fiction) I received a letter stating that it had won something like the College Publications Nonfiction Award (I don't remember the exact name). They sent me a certificate. I wrote back and thanked them, and pointed out that it was fiction, which is why I'd submitted it for publication as fiction. It was kind of funny, but I felt bad for whoever was the runner up, you know, who might have actually written nonfiction? I never received a response.

Glenn Buttkus said...

That's a funny story about the fiction posing as non-fiction. Metaphysically, as several of
our shard personalities function
similtaneously in parallel dimensions, you probably do have
a little brother, probably have spent time in a mental institution and are on intimate terms with madness, as in your February series of poems. When I was an actor, I used to feel that most of us, perhaps all of us have these multi-dimensional personalities within us that one lifetime could never give birth to, so acting was a cool way to explore those alternate Me's. For you, your writing takes you to the same places. Thanks, by the way, for
cruising through my site and finding the odd poem to comment on. I have moved onto another Oregon poet, Doug Draime, who has the muscular lines of a Larry Levis, and the street savvy of a Bukowski; a self-educated poet, this Draime finds some rarely seen
moments in his life for us to peruse. You really hooked me with the story though. I think even some of the RICELAND poems are populated by a brother, perhaps older than you?

Glenn

CLBledsoe said...

We've published Draime in Ghoti in the past.

I do have an older brother, significantly older--18 years. A couple of the RICELAND poems reference him.

I remember that you are an actor. I took an acting class once. I was terrible (shaking fists at the heavens) TERRIBLE!!!!!! It's something I admire but cannot do.

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