Archive for June, 2010


Ode to Josè Saramago

by mdjb

The pain was starting to feel normal, for you had given me eyes to see
With minimal punctuation in every book that you wrote.
I sat on Air France Flight 2228 with no other place to be.
Thinking of Blindness, The Cave, All the Names and wrote myself a note;
I was planning to catch up on all of your work, for I’d read all the novels save four.
In fact, the three I’ve mentioned, I have each savored more than twice.
In my bag underneath the seat sat The Double with an uncracked spine.
On landing, it saddened me to hear of your death as I had so counted on more,
But now those few unread I guess will have to suffice,
And as I approach each last tale, I’ll uncork an old bottle of wine.



by mdjb

When autumn arrived again the whole situation was murky. Not on the surface. Ostensibly, everything appeared as it had before only now there was an undercurrent in which the truth swished and swayed. I was a woman alone. I’d said some things I could not take back. I’d told him how I felt and for how long I’d felt that way and I’m sure it made me look bad.

He still set up things for me to do. He still announced these tasks in front of others. I was still proud and trying to prove myself efficient. Still afraid of the possibilities; only now he knew. The knowledge gave him an advantage. He could berate me for any little thing and what could I do but acquiesce? Sure, I could just pack it in and move on to another place. I could go to England as I’d originally planned. Or Toronto. But to do so would announce to all that there had been a contest of wills between us and I had lost. His reputation would be sullied and I would be alone for the second time in one year.

He told me it was transferrence. I knew it was. Except that it had started before I lost Eric.

When I said, I have something I have to tell you, he said, No, you don’t.

Yes, I said, No, you don’t, he said.

It was an innocent lunch and I had told him he looked his age. No, that’s incorrect. It had not been innocent. We had eaten lunch both aware that there was more beneath the surface, but he was willing to let it lie while I was boiling and about to erupt.

For some time I had been aware that the only acceptable emotion, though strictly unsatisfying, was to get him riled and feel the heat of his discomfort. He was unaware of those dynamics, but I would go back to my desk after one of these encounters and I would feel dizzy with keeping quiet about what I knew had occurred. I would wonder, is he being discreet or is he ignorant of what just happened? Does he think I really want to see him annoyed? Does he not realize my emotions are making me say things I very quickly regret?

From the way he reacted, he obviously knew all along.

He told me it was transferrence and that I only directed my feelings toward him because I knew it was safe. Nothing could happen because he was monogamously involved and had a son. Yes, I knew this. But I also observed over time that he paid more attention to me than to any of the others.

When he told Enid about how I would be handling the timesheets from now on, I took it to mean he is willing to overlook my true confession, but I also see that he is covering himself. I am sure his wife advised him how to react. Oh, yes, I am certain at this point he has spoken to her. If I were to do anything stupid, he could say, I never suspected she felt that way, I just thought she was a good worker and I was willing to give her more responsibility, she must have mistaken my intentions. He has mistaken me. I would never do anything stupid. I mean dangerously stupid. My only error was in crossing the line and saying what we both knew was happening. In that regard, I always seem to do the foolish thing.

That was how I met and fell in love with my husband, Eric. I miss him so much. Perhaps I am transferring some of that feeling to William, but the truth is I started feeling heat from him long before Eric became ill. I was being discreet then. Except for this one slip, I will continue to be so.

I hope to work with William for quite a long time. He helped me through the roughest season of my life. He has told me he’s counting on me. He’s told others he believes I am capable. I must not give him cause to waver.


His Word, My Words

by mdjb

There was no cab in sight. In a city known for an over abundance of taxis, it just didn’t seem logical. Perhaps it was Taxi Drivers’ Day and they were all out celebrating with their families, or home watching a game. I’m not much good keeping up with calendars.
I walked across one of the pedestrian bridges, noting how still the water in the canal appeared, as if it too were tired of flowing. Cobalt blue and flat-surfaced, it provided an unrippled reflection of the buildings running along the north side, many in which it seemed people were celebrating something. Could they be the missing drivers? I’m a simple man always looking for simple answers, but rarely arrive at them easily. I have always tried to follow my father’s advice. Wait. Be patient. All things come in time. I often take it I’m correct in my assumptions and wait to be proven wrong.
I usually am, proven wrong, that is.
This is the thing that worries me. Now, that I am about to become a father, I wonder if there is something hidden. Something I will need to provide for my child, that I will have no clue as to how to procure. Advice, a philosophy, topicalities—until now I have sat in the back of cabs and been speeded to my destination without much time to think of details. I blame the missing drivers for putting me into this quandary. Of course, they have all the answers. Just ask any one of them. If you listen and take note, you will have a book full of solutions.
My father, too, was not a great walker, but I did not learn that until I was old enough to understand all the things he told me. He did tell me to wait, and I always took him at his word.