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The Boy

The Boy

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Published by Robin Rule
description of a person who lived down the road from us when we lived on String Creek
description of a person who lived down the road from us when we lived on String Creek

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Published by: Robin Rule on Apr 20, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/28/2014

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The BoyThe fire ban has been lifted and then closed, lifted again, only to be shutdown again: backnforth because the weather can’t make up I’ts mind. I weteverything down that might attract lightning. I wash down the heat wavesthat mirage at my feet like puddles of shimmering wet glass and then, forfun, I make tipis of maple twigs and light them with wooden kitchenmatches. The little tipis, only six inches high at the most, burn in the middleof a naked dusty road down to nothing in a matter of minutes. I’m not apyrotechnic maniac, but I love to watch the small flames, smell the pungentwood, the same way I loved to watch the huge bonfires we made at thebeach as children with our parents and roasted marshmallows, while theydrank beer or a wine cooler.The kids down the road have come up again to visit. The youngest, a boy,says nothing, ever, to anyone, except his mother. I think he’s on someborderland to autism. I say, borderland, because it’s as if he lives in anotherland, and I too, know that place. I spent a great deal of time there as ayoungster, and even now the borderlands of some uncertain kingdom enticeme from my daily chores when I find the world too harsh. Especially noisecan trip me into stepping away from the present world. Noise plays havocwith my psyche like nothing else can. But the Boy also slyly takes pride inbeing the one everyone tries coaxing to come out of his shell. Not me. Iwon’t talk to him, thus he often comes up and watches whatever I do, whenit’s stuff like making little fires or washing delicate chandelier crystals that I
 
hang from thread in the windows after cleaning in a towel-lined wash pan onthe porch’s work table. He will sometimes lift up an intricately facetedcrystal to the sun and look through it, his eye becoming large and distended,like a fish in the lazy stream down the road.Or baking. Sometimes I swear he can smell oatmeal cookies a half a miledown the road through summer’s dust, so he pads down, his bare feetmaking little rises of dust as he dreamingly wanders up to my cabin. Theremay be dreamy maps on his face, but his nose leads him unerringly to myfront porch where he stands and waits like a deer who wonders if the saltlick is safe, or the tree above the water hole is free of bobcats. I come outand give him a handful of cookies and he grins through a shyness so painfulit’s a weapon. And he uses it that way when his mother is around. A big boyat nine, he will hide behind her skirts and I know it’s just an act; but I keepquiet, because I refuse to buy into making him speak or sit here or play overthere on the rope swing.I stand quietly talking to his mother about the wild briars we’ve beencultivating. What a concept! But there’s a particular kind in our valley that,while the flower is small as a dime, just five pink petals, it makes hips thesize of liberty coins, and by the time they are dried, they are still largeenough to be compared to a quarter. We dry them every year for winter’ssore throats and raspy coughs, so it behooves us to find the best bushes. Iwon’t clone or graft. I’m too old-fashioned. But I will remind myself whereto gather next year. We also talk about the plentiful amount of elder berries
 
we suspect we’ll have this year. It seems every time the winter is going to behard, there are more acorns, more berries, more velvet on the young bucks’antlers, which reminds me of the Boy. His hair is the same color as the softbrown of the wild young bucks and his silent grace is the same as the youngbucks as well.When the middle of autumn has arrived, but not yet enough rains to makethe new grasses grow, the deer grow desperate in our part of the valley andthey’ve been known to come right up on the front porch. They arch theirnecks and reach up to the plants I have growing in baskets. They nibble atmy prize heirloom roses, just as I’ve seen the Boy expertly take out his knifewhen he thought I wasn’t looking and pick a bud for his mother. He iscareful he counts down to three leaf conjunctions and then cuts, so his stemis long enough to put in a vase or jar, but also at a place where he knows theplant will reach out toward the sun and replace the one picked with newgrowth. His father teaches all those kids about plants. The Boy wants to stay,sometimes I think he even wants me to let him rub his rough head, like tineswith the velvet itching to come off, against my shoulder, but he will not betamed yet. He can’t bear to let go of his freedom, even as the winter driveshim to my front porch for more cookies and hot cocoa. I’ve raised boys. Iknow how to woo them, how to make them think it was their own idea tocome in out of the cold and have something warm before heading out intothe wild again. I don’t know where he goes when he isn’t here or at home.Their cabin is too small for the hugeness of young men, his two olderbrothers, a large father, even his sister is large, like a farm girl who could

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Shyam Adrift added this note
yes this is a prose poem, such a gentle narration that makes the boy & the your interaction with him such a lovable act. the moon as dictionary, hmm Robin this story has such lovely verse. cheers!
Daniel Essman added this note
dear robin, you have a genius for beauty...this is an amazing prose poem...a beautiful song from your bright mouth to our ears, to our hearts...

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