Proposition and Lament
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62 the minnesota review Jon Davis Proposition and Lament This child that wobbles from living room to kitchen wearing his diaper, his fat legs blotched with pink, his hair twisted into peaks, babbles a language all syntax, like birdsong or the rhetoric ofhounds, while I sit in my thirteen-year-old's clothes, a novice at fashion, at not being different, at not drawing attention, at being stupid like the rest ofmy thirteen year old world. The child's mother waves her dry, white-skinned arms and chain-smokes menthol cigarettes where she sits at the black-and-white specked formica table. I'm too young to understand any of this, but I listen to a story of abandonment and sin, doors slammed, an all night bus trip from West Virginia, some lust that pries a man from a woman and sends her into the corner of her brain where speech is backed-up on an assembly line one part against another, saying nothing. I listen to the child and the mother speak this language ofavoidance, deference and sigh. In one hour I'll go to school and learn to hate what makes us true, to snub the lonely and the poor, the mad who know something suddenly and can't say what it is— an idea, or a ghost, or the ghost of an idea. I'll wear the same pair ofjeans all week, the same stupid shirt everyone wears. I'll speak the same language filled with the flash ofchrome, verbs like gemstones, nouns big and plural as Cadillacs, adjectives that print foreheads, some proposition and lament. I'll walk around behind my eyes taking everything that's given. I'll pledge allegiance, line up behind the future. I'll come home, lie awake, and listen to the boy shaking his crib, his mother tapping ashes into a half-filled coke bottle by the bed. ...