Quixotic quest, this seeking out people who knew my mother, though when I find them I’m glad they remember her, her voice, her wit, offer an anecdote or two, even if the memory it embraces reshapes my own and I’m the butt, once more. Like how a friend’s father who otherwise couldn’t cook a lick grilled his signature dish and set it before all of us with a flourish, and asked to render expert opinion evidently the pre-teen I shrugged Corn’s corn, a locution that entered family lore on the spot, this friend last seen three decades ago relates. My call: a distant warble from the everywhere and nowhere we call the past, unlikely to be heard by him again—yet here we sit in the warm current of his neighborhood bistro, regaling each other over Chianti and veal, and soon we’re sharing trails: work spoor, marriage spans, the hard names of our antilipidemics— and I realize all this time I was with him, he with me, fixed within some gyrus of cerebral cortex to Miss Ten Eyck and her lime perfume and the Dred Scott Case, so if New York’s late fall rain blows horizontal and cold across the windowpanes as we redeem our coats, our tread is lighter, our hair less salt, for the corn, we see, newly shucked, golden, was corn and was not. [End Page 130]
Roy Jacobstein is the author of Fuchsia in Cambodia (TriQuarterly Books/ Northwestern UP). His earlier books, A Form of Optimism (UPNE) and Ripe (U Wisconsin P), won the Morse Prize and Pollak Prize, respectively.