Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Runaway

by Brittany Fonte

Your mother: “You cannot tunnel to China without looking back!” No ma’m, not without a black passport, and not if you’ve chosen to better your breaks in this animal’s life. You need: silver-plated spoons, salted caramels, a second pair of underwear. You need clear directions.

Somehow, yard-by-yard, mineral wisdom seeps in through reaching, raking fingertips, through root vegetables and retaining walls; there is no room for monkey-back rides in barefoot and burdened Buddhist Beijing. You must unload your grimy grief before….

Halfway to the core, you curse the crust, the fuss of emotions. You look for your center, a snake. You see: He was a myth to the masses, most under twelve; now he is ten years gone: yet gilded. Your mother still celebrates his birthday; you still cry to “Danny Boy.” The Dharma doesn’t offer drugs or doctors of psychology.

You think of terra cotta warriors who surely ward off wakes. But he was that pancake batter maker, Bisquick creator, and, if that ‘if’ equals ‘then,’ he also turned into the Aztec sun god at daybreak, danced Irish jigs on table tops, broke his own bitty finger to hold a golf club best; this is middle school math, and karma.

On our mantle—in it, too—there is a picture: he often shadowboxed when the heavy weight of the world would heave-ho, not let go, Bartleby itself on his two shoulders: one angel, one angle. He studied the sport at night, by radio, driving a Pepsi truck away from his peppered past.Prescriptions don’t pause.

Tenzin knows he pencil-pushed his way through Times crossword puzzles. You scrape the outer core for access, also hampered by a sixth grade education. He perfected pizza crusts, sullied by greedy partners and a state seeped in lefse and Lutefisk, littered in shotgun shells and deer carcasses. Your inner core aches, agnostic.

This heat cannot be helped, or measured. He took me golfing, three months before he died, no handicap but carving cancer. This man glimmers brighter than Chinese New Year, offers satori; my childhood tunnel collapses. I call for calm, my mudra, in “Mom!”

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