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THE INCREDIBLE APPEARING MAN /Deborah Galyan ""O LUMBER," HE SAYS. X His Panama hat is an odd touch, shadowing dark glasses. A blue work shirt and jeans. Cowboy boots, very tooled. But the grin is center stage. "I didn't call a plumber." He takes a notebook out of his shirt pocket and looks in it. "Plumber," he says, "nonetheless." He smeUs delicious, like lemon grass and eucalyptus bark, fresh from CaUfornia. I breathe him in. "You're not a plumber," I say looking him dead in the eye. "You don't have any tools." He leans into the screen door. An amethyst glints in his left earlobe, a dimple in his left cheek. "Maybe they're in the truck. We could go take a look." He grins again. "I don't think so," I say. He inspects the toe of his boot for scuffs. "So," he says. "Are you saying I'm not a plumber?" I nod carefuUy. He looks over his shoulder at an ancient Toyota truck in the drive. I notice the tendons in his shoulders, how they reach up into his neck like gnarled vines. "This is a drawback," he says, his CaUfornia accent minty, with overtones of diffidence. "This is a serious drawback." "Yes it is," I say. "I'll just have to return at a later time with my credentials." He tips the Panama. "Until then, ma'am." I let myself watch his walk to the truck, gravel scattering under his boots. He looks improbably young, a gypsy cowboy with shiny black curls bouncing around his hat. Was there a streak of gray or not? His jeans are tight. When he reaches the truck, he looks back at me. One, two, three, I count and shut the door. Three is as long as I can look without looking too long. My hands are shaking. Nothing happened, I teU myself. But my hands are shaking, and there's no denying it. The Incredible Appearing Man is back. The Missouri Review · U On Tuesday, Mrs. Burdowski comes to take care of five-monthold Alex, whUe I go to work. She gives him my breast milk out of plastic nursers and complains he ought to be eating cereal by now. She teUs Alex I'm depriving him of pablum. But I Uke the way she holds him in the crook of one arm, so he can always see her face. He adores her weird Polish interpretations of Cole Porter songs and tries to sing along. Because of Mrs. Burdowski, I feel aU right about leaving him two days a week, so that I can keep teaching at St. Catherine's College for Women. There aren't that many teaching jobs in Cleveland, and I'm anxious to keep this one, at least part time. Today Tm teaching Ovid's The Metamorphoses to the senior women—something I've never tried before. It somehow ended up on the recommended reading Ust, a predictable stew of Shakespeare, Whitman, and Frost—with AUce Walker and Toni Morrison tossed in for color. I thought Ovid might be an enjoyable way of introducing them to Greek and Roman Uterature, without dragging them kicking and screaming through Homer or VirgU. I dismissed The Metamorphoses when I first read it in coUege. The stories seemed embarrassingly stilted, like old episodes of "Love Boat." Now I see them differently—voluptuous, witty tales of love, sex and death. Creation and destruction on a Spielbergian scale. Someone in Hollywood should take a look at Ovid. Earth, Air, Water heaved and turned in darkness, No living creatures knew that land, that sea Where heat fell against cold, cold against heat— Roughness at war with smooth and wet with drought. Things that gave way entered unyielding masses, Heaviness fell into things that had no weight. I wonder if I can explain it to my students. The drama of metamorphoses. How we change. Anthropologists now admit that major advances in certain species thought to have occurred over thousands of years probably happened within the space of a few generations. Why not, when you consider what can happen in the space of a Ufetime? How an ideology, inspiring at twenty, turns...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 11-35
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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