By Rachel Barenblat
All I wanted was for him to love me.
And I knew he couldn't. I reminded him
too much of himself: thin as tzitzit
with wispy hair and watery eyes.
I was always mommy's boy; Dad smiled
only for my rough and tumble brother.
Mom hung my watercolors on the fridge,
took me to the library on rainy days;
the two of them spent endless weekends
crouching in camouflage. They never asked
if I wanted to join. They knew I'd weep
the first time I turned a duck or a goose
from something living, flying, moving
into a limp pile of feathers and meat.
Then Dad got sick. His hornrim glasses
thickened til I could barely see his eyes.
His hands shook. He couldn't hold a gun.
My brother went out alone. I reread
books I already knew by heart, too numb
to imagine the change I knew was coming.
I never met my grandpa, though I heard
he went a little crazy once, almost
killed his younger son. I wish I could ask
whether Dad was scared, if he cried...
And now Mom comes upstairs, Dad's lunch
neatly arranged on a tray, the sweater
my brother likes best draped over her arm.
The wool is bulky and smells like smoke.
I barely recognize myself in the mirror.
I take the tray to the darkened study
where we've stashed the rented hospital bed,
I place it gently on Dad's bony knees.
When he reaches out I can't breathe.
I want him to know who's standing here
and to love me anyway. Is that you? he asks.
His voice is tremulous; I swallow hard.
It's me, dad, I tell him. I'm here.
The rest of my life I'll remember
his papery hand on my arm. I'll never know
whether he knew which son he blessed.
By The Velveteen Rabbi from her book 70 Faces, based upon the Torah portion Toldot.
Thursday was not a super-exciting day. After getting some work done in the morning, I went out looking for throw pillows, this time at the home goods sales at Macy's and Sears at the mall. I struck out completely, particularly since my first choice of store, the mall's Crate & Barrel, is now gone; it seems like 1/3 of the storefronts in the mall, even the terrible Baker's Shoes that has been there for as long as I can remember, are now empty. At least the Godiva store is still there, at least through Valentine's Day.
I did get to see a bunny in the woods, always a good thing, and Adam's friend joined us for dinner in his new Joe Flacco shirt. Evening TV involved a very enjoyable episode of Beauty and the Beast in which I thought they were engaging in a certain character cliche which they then turned on their heads, then Elementary in which I spent the entire episode utterly petrified not that someone was going to get shot but that Sherlock would eat his pet turtle in soup. (On "edgier" Sherlock, I'm sure he would have.)
Here are some photos of the B&O Railroad Museum in Ellicott City's huge Lego holiday train display, which ostensibly replicates parts of Ellicott City itself. I am not sure why a kraken is attacking the town, nor why Spider-Man lives there, let alone why Ellicott City might have a Liberty Bell, some knights, or a Knight Bus, but there are lots of other fun details: