The Mirror on the Wall

On another cold Sunday morning and up alone while everyone else sleeps, I made my way through some photos from only a few lives ago.

Damn it. How can it be that so much has changed?

No longer little girls, smiles have been replaced by the brooding of young adulthood (oh could I have stopped time and taken a number amongst the long line of dreamers who’ve gone before– like I’m covering some new ground here).

Where are they now? Locked away in their thoughts; comprehending the slights and arguments that the passing of time slowly uncovered.

I was a hero then; maybe. In my own mind. The delusion made it easier to go on.

Now what? More tears. The passing of time is a mirror which haunts me.

And today it’s speaking back a little louder than usual.

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A Farewell to the Ghost of Oxford

My last day in Oxford was spent again walking around campus, alone. I had lunch in the student union and then walked on to field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. I even strolled the perimeter of the campus as a sort of way of “peering into” another world. My last stop was here:

The Lyceum.

The main administration building on the Ole Miss campus. It’s the signature building on this out of the world place in the world. And I took a picture.

Afterward, I met up again with Van for a last goodbye. I snapped a picture of him standing outside of Alumni House and standing next to his Volkswagen Beetle. Thinking that what we had established over the past few days would be the start of a long term friendship, I hardly wondered if and when I’d see him again…

Back north, I sat at my desk and wrote a letter of thanks to Van for his kindness and generosity during my visit to Oxford. Once mailed, I began to anticipate his response.

That anticipation continues to this day because I never heard again from the Ghost of Oxford.

Dust Motes Near Lockers

Just floating through the air.

Sitting here now, I can almost remember thinking that I’d remember the dust motes. Emerging from the bathroom, I’d walked down the hall on the way back to class.

And just across from the entrance to the school library, there were windows which looked out into the courtyard. The Florida sun would burn through the saline air of a beach life, highlighting the particulars of that first few periods of the day moment.

And just like then, I’m alone.

Like gasoline fumes, there was something mirage-like about the dust motes floating within the rays of light.

In school.

On a day which left no other impressions (where did they go? where do they go?), I still have that vision today. How can that be?

With my own children now at the age of me that day, I wonder what seemingly insignificant events interrupt their days. And I wonder too how much they’ll take with them.

So I sit here tonight thinking and writing because I don’t know what else to do.

Dust motes.

A desiccated rose

Turning my head slightly to the side, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. In the car next to me, would she have smiled too?

Funny. The metaphor wasn’t lost.

The autobiography? Hasn’t been finished. You have no idea.

An outstretched hand leads the way. Following the flashlight’s beam and heading down the stairs, it’s time to go back.

Seascape ’82. That’s what the cover says; was what I saw. What a strange secret I’ve kept. All these years, I thought someone was watching. Instead, I’m the lead.

Far away, I kid myself that she’s peeked too. And me? Left rummaging in the basement, looking in a book. It’s usually kept just safely out of reach. Except for tonight.

In between the pages, the wax paper cocoon is a silent tomb. It’s a thirty-something haunting.

I put it there; then.

Now I look in the mirror. Same person, different shell. No longer of the sea, the change in seasons has parched the skin. In my hands tonight though, the rose I hold has dried out too.

Rock Lobsters

We were at a party looking for them. And while most of the time we got skunked, sometimes we’d get lucky. They were the best bait for catching things. But that was a long time ago.

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Maybe under this one. There is a connection somewhere.

I’m just trying to find it. And I keep looking around and inside hoping to find some light in the dark.

Films from a time-period, in (dare I say) a type of style . But why these films?

Kids do funny things to pass the time and our summer free-time was spent looking for crayfish. We called them rock lobsters. We were kids then.

You already knew that, right?

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Hey. Yeah you. See the mug above? The one with the dame. Well that’s Richard Conte, the boss, see? The dame? She’s Jean Wallace. Some catch huh?

Later when I started turning over other things, I came across Conte in a number of noirs. Always seeming to play the heavy mixed-up in some racket, I thought I’d seen him somewhere outside those shadows.

Racking the same brain that fades, it hit me. He was Barzini from The Godfather, a film he appeared in many years after his film noir heyday.

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Here was a clue and perhaps a bridge. A rock turned over.

Another mug. This one of Old Spice shave soap in a medicine cabinet. With a brush nearby. That was poppy’s way. He was a bridge too.

And another clue; more rocks.

So what’s the angle? That no one’s on the level.

Now it’s in another time in another place and in another form.

A frame.

And a good one. Thank you Mr. Kubrick because the mug below is hidden by a mask in this frame. Nothing but a two-bit hood. And Sterling Hayden was a good one too in The Killing.

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But you’d take the mask off the hood and you’d get another peek.

Cuz that’s the mug again. In another scene from The Godfather. This time he’s the tall guy in the middle about to take a slug from Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino to his right.

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Sneaking up.

So you see, it ain’t just chasing dames and broads.

It’s about finding things and getting closer. It was a rock lobster.

Don’t mention it.

Dames, Tomatoes, Heels, and Joes (with a side of cad)

Dames

Tomatoes

Heels

and Joes

with a side of cad

Some real broads too

On the level

Yeah, see

Let him have it

cuz that’s quite a dish

Real swell

Gee wiz

What a gas

take a powder

with the bread

and don’t forget the dough

So start this heap

sharp or you’ll get a

bum rap

Hey, get a load of that tomato. What a dish. You’ll never pin that on me Mac. Why, it’s a sure thing. On the level pal. In this joint, things are swell. Give me another one will ya?Make it a rye before I gotta scram out of here. 

Nothing but dames and broads, heels and cads.

It’s a sure thing. All square. Any dope yet? Look sister, the brute down the pike beat it. He’s lying face down with a couple of slugs in him. So long baby. Get in my jalopy and get off the wagon. I gotta hunch that she’s a cagey dame playing footsies. 

Doll yourself up and I’ll be seein ya. You really send me, so don’t get so sore. No I haven’t lost my marbles. So stop making cracks.

Now beat it.