I was getting off on Vampirella comics when you were having that affair with the jug-jawed hippie chick. No offense, but she wasn’t as pretty nor as interesting as mom. I never claimed to be very complicated.
…and when you were reading John Fowles casebound novels, I was reading Conan the Barbarian paperbacks. I tried to read The Magus, but couldn’t get into being a middle-aged man on a Mediterranean island surrounded by intelligent, and servile young women. I guess I was picturing myself with the Barbarian. Even then.
We both realized how wide the canyon was when we rode East to art school. I think it was somewhere near Indianapolis that you blurted out how you did not understand what it was “…I was going to do.” The ’78 Chevy Citation was a confessional for you.
But I knew exactly what you did not understand, and I take heart that you never got after me for being made a fag: eyes were mostly for reading for you. Once in awhile you’d look at the landscape, and sometimes you’d collect field data for mom. I told you that the concept of the carbon ring was inspired by that Matisse painting–a small offering.
To be fair: the V-2 scale rocket we built. You admired your German expat colleagues. I admired you. We sent that thing up a dozen times before it blew towards the Sandias over too many barbed-wire fences. That rocket was an organic thing for me. A whittled piece of bone like a Brancusi sculpture. It’s graphic black roll pattern was high Modernism.
Then things got wild. You rediscovering Feinman’s Lectures amidst the boredom of lab management, and me stumbling on Saint John of the Cross at the back of Volume III of the Liturgy of the Hours. Lord, and to discover him in an unsentimental and empty age. Christ as lover. Particle physics for me.
And the pilgrimages to Yugoslavia with aging holy-rollers. Your mother beamed when I came home to put her amethyst rosary round her neck, blessed by Our Lady. I would have burried it with her, but you treated it like a talisman for yourself.
And then little sister’s craziness. That seminar you took on the book of Job didn’t keep you from telling her you found her contemptible. I was job-hopping at the time. Little sister and I were a hairbreadth’s apart. Still are.
© Tasso 2000