Category Archives: Uncategorized

25 February 2017

Good morning,

With a cup of dairy-free yogurt and a mug of coffee, I settle in front of the computer and think about my week.  I’m a little nauseous from reading the news.  I’ve got a lot to say when I write my political blog later today, but right now I’m just fighting that icky feeling you get from knowing too much about the lamentable state of the world.  Our national outlook carries nothing encouraging:  Cloudy with a chance of return to the dark period of unenlightenment, when intelligence and compassion gather dust and ugliness reigns.  It’s too much to contemplate before breakfast.

I find myself thinking about my father.

One Sunday years ago, a lady at church asked my five-year-old self what my father did.  I answered, He drinks.  I’m sure I didn’t know what it meant.  I had probably heard my mother use it as an excuse for her bruises.  A decade later, cynical at fifteen, I answered the same question with this gem:  “He’s an Irish Catholic alcoholic.”  I didn’t add, who beats his wife and children into submission, but I considered it.

Now at sixty-one, I strain to remember something redemptive about my father.  See?   He wasn’t so bad! He made stuff for his grandchildren, wooden toys and puzzles.  He played with them.  Grandpa Sport, my brother’s son Nick called him.

See?  He gave me his Shell gas card once, as I gathered my bags to drive back to Arkansas in a petulant rage, that Christmas when I visited and couldn’t get a word in edgewise at a sibling dinner party.  You don’t have to leave tonight, he urged.  Yes, I did.  I couldn’t bear staying in St. Louis with the stark reminder of my irrelevance to my brothers and sisters.  So Dad pulled out his wallet, slipped me forty bucks and the credit card, and told me to call him when I got to Jasper.

My last sight of him:  Near-bald head shaking, standing in the cold on the front porch in his shirt sleeves, one hand lifted in a salute to  his baby daughter.

1980, was it? Or 1981? when my brother Frank got married in Minnesota.  A gaggle of Corleys stood in the center of his new wife’s parents’ back yard, strangers all of us, knowing no one, our only common ground being their new son-in-law.  We huddled in a circle, telling inside jokes.  Once in a while, my mother ventured over to our host and hostess to say something friendly.

I wandered into the house, tired, struggling on high heels which I had no business wearing.  Paper-thin and nervous, I left my boyfriend talking with some old lady dressed in a polka-dot dress and sat down on a love-seat in a room that could have been a turn-of-the-century parlor.

A few minutes later, my father found me there.  We both had glasses of wine.  I spared a moment to fear that my dad’s ugly nature would emerge as he drained his glass.  He sat down next to me.  Neither of us spoke at first.  I sipped my wine.

Then my father said, Do you want me to show you how to hold a wine glass?

I suppressed the desire to remind him that I was nearly thirty — well, twenty-five, and had been drinking since high school.  Sure, Pops, I replied instead.  And for the next five minutes, he did just that.  He lifted his own hand, curled the tips of his fingers around the stem, and extended his pinky finger into the air.  I copied him and we raised our glasses in unison, just as the hired photographer came around the corner, lifted his camera and captured the moment.

Somewhere in the basement, in a moldy box, I have a copy of that picture.  Me in my size zero black flower-print dress, with blue eye shadow and black patent stiletto heels.  My dad in a grey suit, with a carnation in his lapel, florid skin, a small nick from a too-close shave just below his chin.

My father said, How’s law school treating you?  We talked for a few minutes about my part-time job on campus.  Early days, I remarked.  He nodded.  What kind of law do you think you’ll practice, he asked.  I replied that I had no idea.  Bleeding-heart liberal, probably, I conceded.  He turned slightly to study my face.  You should do criminal law, that’s where the money is, he advised.  We sat in silence.  The afternoon ebbed and flowed around us.  We finished our wine, and after a while, we rose, to go outside and join the rest of our family on the patio.  But before we exited that funny little room, I hugged my Dad, and thanked him for teaching me how to drink wine from a long-stemmed glass.

Something every girl needs to know.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

 

18 February 2017

Good morning,

I entered a Family Court courtroom yesterday filled with apprehension.  My anxiety arose because of a snippy exchange that I had with one of the attorneys involved in the case which had been entirely due to my using careless language in an e-mail with her.  Admittedly, she had bristled rather intensely in proportion to my statement, but still, I understood her reaction.  I had apologized; however, she had pointedly not forgiven me.

The presence of a judge rotated from across the street in Circuit Court eased my tension.  He greeted me with warmth.  He’s one of my favorites and I instantly felt the chilly air of the courtroom increase in temperature.  The attorney glared at me but the restorative work had already settled into my wonky heart and eased its rhythm.

The judge said, I heard you were wearing a heart monitor, Ms. Corley, and I cautioned that it might occasionally beep.  He asked if I were feeling better and I admitted that I was, thanks to a strong dose of antibiotics.  Then I said, But wait, it’s February 17th, 2017, right? He nodded.  So, nineteen years ago this week, a doctor gave me six months to live.  So I guess you could say that I’m happy to have beaten the odds.

I did not exaggerate.

I can see the doctor’s face so clearly.  The years fall away.  I sit, alone, on the sad side of the desk in his office.  He’s slouched in a large leather chair.  With florid skin, blonde hair, piercing eyes, he’s oozing arrogance and an attempt to charm me.  It’s not personal.  I’ve seen him do it with the nurses and other doctors.  He just does that.  He ropes people into his spell.  It seems to satisfy him.

He repeated his prognosis.  I’d give you maybe six months. Maybe.  He shifted his body inside his tailored lab coat and emphasized the possibility, making clear that it could be six weeks or a day.  Maybe longer.  But.

I felt my eyebrows draw together and my cheek twitch.  But why?  A twinge in my gut foretold the reawakening of a dormant bleeding ulcer.  Why am I sick?  Why am I going to die?

He shrugged.  From what the neuro doc told me, he’s always assumed your body would wear out.  I can’t find a cause for your fatigue, your aphasic episodes, and your breathing issues.  You are not responding to anything we do.  Between us, we think your body has just reached its natural limit.  It can’t keep up like this.  It’s tired.  He looked at me accusingly.  I almost apologized for expecting too much of my body.

But my son, I began.  My law practice.  My mortgage.  My son, Patrick, then just six years old.  No daddy waiting in the wings; I won’t speak ill of his father but suffice it to say, that Auntie Mona or Aunt Penny would be the ones to take my child.  Or one of my siblings — Ann or Frank, possibly.   Joyce, certainly.   Any of those folks would raise him as their own.  Eventually, he might forget his dying mother and the days she spent lying on the couch confused, exhausted, uncertain.

A few days later, another episode sent me to the hospital.  Brief black-outs followed by near-collapses.  In a bed at St. Luke’s Hospital, I listlessly played with the oxygen line that led to the breathing  machine.  Your lungs just can’t do their work any more, said the doctor, shaking his handsome head.  Have you made any arrangements?

Arrangements.  What might those be?  Always lousy with money, ever in debt, never able to work those long lawyer hours that bring a house in the suburbs and a new car every other year.  Not pretty enough for a husband who’d stand by me through thick and thin.  A wobbly walker with a bad attitude towards anything or anyone that threatened her child.  No, I forgot to make arrangements.  I did not live the Cinderella life at either end — I didn’t sweep the hearth with diligence, nor fall into the arms of everlasting happiness.

That was on Valentine’s Day, 1998.  A lawyer in Texas sent roses with a Get Well card.    I dropped the card and it slid to the floor, where no doubt a cleaning person eventually found it and discarded it in her trash barrel.

In the morning, machines beeped and patient attendants rattled bed pans and breakfast trays.  Whichever friend had taken Patrick for the night brought him for a visit.  Later in the week, they released me and I drove myself home.

When did the tide turn?  That March?  The next year?  I don’t remember.    But I lay in another bed in the same hospital and a radiant angel in a lab coat with Joseph BrewerM.D. embroidered on the left breast above a pocketful of pens came into the room and saved me.

Mrs. Corley, he chortled.  I saw your name on the admission list and thought, ‘Didn’t I have a patient named Corinne Corley a few years ago?'”  He shook my hand.  You look terrible! he said.  I thanked him with a rueful smile.  What happened to you?

What happened.  Good question.  I began my tale starting with the first collapse, going through the neuro doc’s opinion, the pulmonology tests, the cardiac exams.  Halfway through an account of 1998, Dr. Brewer’s head starting shaking.  He stopped me at “six months to live”.

No, no, no.  His voice held anger.  He sat down beside my bed in the plastic chair provided for my visitors.  He clasped one of my hands in both of his.  You might die but only from not being given the proper treatment, he told me.  You’re not wearing out.  You’re hypercoagulable.

Joe Brewer had been the one to tell me, with lab results to validate his theories, that my condition likely stemmed from a viral encephalitis in infancy.  He took the story of three Corley girls being sick at the same time and everything that had happened to me since, and sent me to the lab for testing.  That had been in 1988, but I had not seen him since his diagnosis of me.  The virus, HHV-6, had just been identified when I first met Joe Brewer.  In the intervening decade, a lot had been learned, he explained.

One fascinating effect of reactivated HHV-6 involved a change in the clotting time of blood.  Patients with reactivated HHV-6 developed a proclivity for fast clotting time, causing a hypercoagulable state.  If untreated, patients did not get adequate oxygen to vital organs — lungs, heart, brain, extremities.  Joe Brewer raised my hand into the light and showed me the flaky skin on my fingertips.  Your toes are like this too, he guessed.  I nodded.  Always.  He flashed a genuinely pleased smile.  And you pass out from time to time?  Yes.  And you can’t breathe?  Yes.

At that moment, the pulmonoligst came into the room.  What’s going on? he snapped.  Joe Brewer stood.  The pulmonologist said, What are you doing with my patient?  Dr. Brewer explained that I had once been his patient and that he had come to visit me.  I lay in my bed, tired, but with a kernel of hope growing in my breast.  The two of them argued for a few minutes.  Dr. Brewer tried to explain his theory.  The pulmonologist wanted nothing to do with it.   His voice grew louder and louder, until a nurse came from the hallway to investigate.  She stood helpless as the doctor on my right practically yelled at the doctor on my left, demanding that he get out of the room.

Finally I had had enough.  You, sir, I said, pointing to the red-faced pulmonologist.  You think I am dying.  I pointed to Joe Brewer.  He thinks he can save me.  Good God, why not let him try?

Because he’s a quack, the doctor snapped.  Dr. Brewer said nothing.

Maybe so, I replied.  But what can it hurt, a little Heparin?  Will it kill me?  According to you, I’m dying anyway.  I’ll take my chances.

He stomped out of the room.  A commotion ensued at the nurse’s desk.  In those days of paperwork without computers, I was discharged from the first doctor’s care and re-admitted as a patient of Dr. Joseph Brewer, infectious disease specialist.  He started me on IV Heparin.  I went home several days later, after getting lessons on pinching skin to administer shots of blood-thinner.  It would be weeks before I could work full-time, but eventually, the pink returned to my cheeks and my breathing eased.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Except for one note:  That pulmonologist dropped dead of a cardiac arrest several months after the altercation over my hospital bed.  I read his obituary with sorrow.  Two teen-aged sons.  A wife.  A host of loved ones left to mourn him.

And one former patient, alive, wondering whose future had actually been foretold when he looked into the reflective blue of my eyes.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

 

11 February 2017

Good morning,

As I survey my to-do list, the sun inches itself over the line of scraggly trees between the houses to the east of mine.  Day has not fully committed to my neighborhood.  The dog sleeps on the back porch, disinterested in the stuffy house, content to doze in the gentle morning air.

Inexplicably I find myself thinking about a seven-year-old boy named Brian who died in 1974.

On a warm September day in my first semester of college, my mother threw me out of the house.  Oh, I’m sure if she were here to defend herself, she’d cast it in a weaker light.  “If you’re not home by 5:00, don’t come home at all,” she growled into the phone.

So I didn’t.

I crashed that night in the apartment from which Young World Development planned its fundraisers.  The next day I missed my 8:00 lecture but got to my work-study job in the Office of Financial Aid close to my scheduled shift.

I found my boss and cried on her shoulder for a half an hour.  By noon she had adjusted my aid package to give me a dorm room and talked the Student Housing Office into cooperating.  My wailing painted my parents as heartless.  I cringed only a little and in secret, so Terri couldn’t see.  I shamelessly marginalized the truth in favor of the pity factor.

Terri and I became closer after that.  A plump clever woman, maybe a decade older than I, Terri had a gorgeous husband, deep dimples, and a Masters in educational administration.  She ran the office in the frequent absence of her boss who had great political aspirations and very little practical experience.  Terri rarely complained that he had the better parking place and higher salary.  Women still accepted such realities back then.  The feminist movement had not yet impacted Jesuit education.

Terri also had a little brother named Brian.

Terri never called Brian her “half-brother” though he had been born of a second marriage after her parents’ divorce.  Brian had the same dimples as his big sister, under straight light-brown hair cut in that classic little-boy style.  You could picture his bright red cheeks above a baseball jersey, the bill of his hat shading the gleaming eyes and the broad smile.  Brian had an indefinable quality about him that rendered anyone nearby hopelessly cheerful.  He showed nonstop enthusiasm for Cardinal baseball, trucks, frogs, and his beloved sister.

When they found bruising on Brian’s legs, the entire family went into a tailspin.  The doctors at Cardinal Glennon Hospital broke the news to the family and Terri missed work for a week straight.  Leukemia.

A few months into the ordeal, Brian had to have a spinal tap.  Terri came to work with red-rimmed eyes the next day.  They missed.  Those bastards missed, she whispered.  That goddamn needle hit something vital.  Now he has to spend the rest of his life paralyzed.  She put her head down on the desk.  The rest of his life, she repeated.  All four or five months of it.

A week or so before Brian died, some famous person came around the hospital with toys for the patients.  He sat on the edge of Brian’s bed while Brian unwrapped the gift allocated to him.  Brian’s eyes glowed.  Though he couldn’t move his legs, he could still tear at the paper, and it fell in shreds around him as the visitor lifted the toy to given Brian a better look.

Oh thank you so much! Brian exclaimed, as quoted the next day by his sister to her gathered staff.  He ran a finger around the contours of the helicopter, with its glistening silver blades.  He touched the remote control, watching the blades whirl, laughing at the sound of the tiny motor.

Then his eyes grew soft.  His hands fell back to the cover.  He looked again at the visitor and said, There’s a lot of sick kids here, sir.  I think you should give this to one of them.  It will make them so happy.  And I won’t need this where I’m going.

We fell silent as Terri reached the end of her account.  Someone hugged her.  The rest of us stood helplessly around her desk while Terri cried.  He’s so brave, she told us.  So so brave.  We nodded but no one spoke.  Nothing remained to be said.

Brian died a few weeks later and we all went to his service.  The church groaned under the weight of thousands of yellow flowers, reputedly Brian’s favorite color.  The family clustered at the front, arms around each other, listening to the priest talk about letting little children come unto Jesus.  I saw Terri close her eyes and shake her head a little.  I’m not sure she bought that line but it seemed to give Brian’s parents a little comfort.

Four decades later I pad around the house in my robe, with a bottle of Augmentin, a handful of Vitaman C, a package of Ricola, and my Northwestern mug full of hot coffee.  I try to shake the weariness from  my shoulders.  It seems as though I’ve been tired for my entire life.  I start to complain, but then for some reason, I remember Brian.  I smile, and I carry on.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

 

21 January 2017

Good morning,

A chill grips  my bones today.  When I opened the door to let the dog into the yard, tendrils  of grey crept into the house.   Perhaps the rising sun vanquished the fog but in those minutes near dawn, the air hung wet and heavy.  It clings to me, hours later, as I nibble on berries and drink yesterday’s coffee.

I feel a sort of kinship with the heavy air.  Standing in the doorway while the dog sniffed at the fence line took me back to the many hours which I’ve spent on the Pacific, with lighthouses rising above me guarding the cluster of buildings on the shore.  I  close my eyes and feel the wind from the sea, or the air moving off Lake Michigan when I visited my son in Chicago.

Last time I went to California for doctor visits, I drove as far north as I could ever have imagined driving, to the mouth of a bay burdened by the threat of an early winter.  I ate a small meal in the glassed terrace of a restaurant heated only by a gas torch.  The diners all wore their jackets and wrapped their hands around warm mugs of cider and coffee but did not complain.  The River’s End Restaurant and Inn, where the Russian River finds its weary way to the sea.

I ate fish although I am a vegetarian.  The waitress told me that the fish and chips had been made from the catch of the day — literally, up the coast a bit.  She might have been exaggerating but how could I refuse?  In my pescatarian days, my son and I had a fish-and-chips contest to see what restaurant had the best.  The tender, flaky fillets which I consumed that day outdid them all.

Afterwards, I stood at the deck rail gazing out towards the horizon.  I felt no loneliness.  Perhaps I’m drawn to the Pacific because no one knows me there.  My mistakes stay behind when I board the plane.  Lost love no longer clutches my heart.  Sixty years of bad poetry lies forgotten in notebooks stashed in the cupboard.

The manager came out and asked me if I needed anything.  Possibly he just wanted to clear my table or collect my tab.  He spoke in hushed tones, and I answered the same. I’m fine, I told him.  Just fine.  He surely had this conversation a dozen times a day, but he lingered at my side.

A lovely bay, isn’t it, he finally asked.  I turned to meet his gaze.  His eyes held kindness but also something else which I recognized.  Are you from here, I asked.  He shook his head and shrugged a little.  He did not say from where he had come, but suddenly I felt something close inside of him.  His eyes shuttered.  I turned back to the sea.  We’re all running from something.

I paid for my meal and left the restaurant.  In my rental car, I turned the heat to high.  I settled back against the seat and headed south on HIghway 1 to Pescadero.

In a few hours, I will stand in a rally at Union Station to show solidarity for the Women’s March on Washington.  So much uncertainty faces our country that my own floundering pales in the comparison.  Besides, I think I’ve found my true north.  I’m ruminating.  It has been a long time coming but the dawn draws near.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

Looking northwest from the deck at the River’s End Restaurant.

 

14 January 2017

Good morning,

The ice storms have spared us so far.  A slight sheen winks at me from the back stairs but the old dog has no trouble navigating them.  I watch her go into the backyard and then start the coffee.

I’ve spent many days stuck in the house due to weather.  We got this dog as a rescue during the devastation of the city in ’01 or ’02, when the tree split in half and toppled onto on our porch.  The boys walked a mile or two towards the sound of a chain saw to bring back rescue.  I told them to say their parents were stuck in the house and had cash.  I made no mention of the 9mm safeguard against any who thought we could be played for fools.

Luckily the man who came turned out to live nearby and had once trimmed our tree.

Another time, when the boys were younger, Patrick and his two fast-friends Chris and Maher played Hot Wheels on the hardwood floors while I did laundry and fretted about missed work.  I stood in the kitchen listening to the sound of small wheels on a plastic track. Maher, always the ringleader, scolded Patrick and Chris whenever they failed to heed his instruction.  Eventually they tired of being bossed and grabbed their coats to run outside.

I watched them from the window, one dark head, one crown of curls, and my own son’s short straight hair.  I opened the door and called to them, Boys come put on your hats.  I looked again and laughed. And your gloves!  They trundled back across the snow to stand on the porch and sort out the mess of wool on the deacon’s bench by the front door.

In the kitchen, I took down the box mac and cheese favored by most kids under ten.   As I got their lunch ready, the radio blasted a dire prediction of more snow.  I made a mental note to call two mothers and assure them of the security of their boys.  Maher’s mother Mona would ask me in her lilting Lebanese voice, Are you sure? Do you want me to come get them?  I can feed them.  She worried that I’d be overborne.  Katrina would be slogging into work despite the storm and would bring whatever provisions she thought I might need.  I smiled and boiled the water, setting out bowls.

The boys lumbered through the front door and cast off coats and scarves.  They ran from one end of the house to the other, hollering about whatever game they had concocted.  I scooted closer to the counter as Chris flew by, no boundaries between himself and the rest of the world.  Eventually I cajoled them into the dining room, got them seated, served their lunch.  No fly-away children,  I told Maher, who scowled but took his bent legs down from the chair and sat with feet on the floor.

I left the dining room for mere seconds but when I came back, Chris stared at me with those innocent eyes.  On the floor behind his chair lay its Duncan-Phyfe-style fiddle back.  I stopped and returned his nervous gaze.  Chris, what happened here, I asked in the gentlest voice that I could manage.

Corinne, he started in reply, his own voice incredulous but scared.  I don’t know.  I was eating my mac-and-cheese and my foot flew up.

I felt a collective breath draw through three little boys — my son, my second son, my third son.  Only one born of my body but the other two so often in my home that I could not help but include them in the count.

Fortunately for Chris, the table was a reproduction, bought at a garage sale.  Not the real McCoy.   And even if it had been genuine, I could not be angry at one of these boys.   My three sons.  I laughed.  The boys relaxed.  And lunch went on, with my stir-crazy charges getting sillier and sillier.  Outside, the snow resumed its silent fall onto the frozen city, covering the grunge laid down by passing cars, painting a new and breath-taking scene outside our frosted windows.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

 

Snow Day, by Patrick Corley, 1997

07 January 2017

Good morning,

I stumble around the house with wild hair and a rueful grin.  Eight o’frickin’ clock, I mutter.  I spy an e-mail from Pat Reynolds and shoot one back:  Remind me not to eat gluten again.  Rough night.

With a timid motion, I sidle down the stairs.  The dog emerges from her domain, wiggles past me and scurries into the kitchen.   I slowly follow, opening the backdoor, shuddering with the onslaught of frigid air.  Have at it,  I tell her.  When she’s navigated the icy stairs down to the yard, I turn to heat a cup of coffee.  A few minutes later, she mirrors my ungainly pace in reverse route.  I hasten to open the door, promising her that I’ll salt the steps today.  As though she understands English, I laugh to myself.  But the way she eyes me, I think she might.  It seems to me she knows that I should have already tended to the clearing of her route.

I let myself eat pasta last night.  Real pasta. With butter sauce and sauteed mushrooms at a restaurant in Liberty.  I savored each slurp.  I’ve been weaning myself from gluten because of its inflammatory properties, sort of like the fabled MS diet only I don’t have MS.  I do have jangled nerves from my actual condition and truth told, they fare far better unglutenized.

You’d love my diagnosis.  Neuro-transmission deficit associated with infantile onset of a post-viral-encephalitic condition.  When I first got this mouth of marbles, the “post-viral encephalitic” part had not been added.  Instead, the St. Louis neurologist called it “early onset of a condition of unknown etiology”.

They did so much for my young vocabulary, those doctors.

My mother stared at him when he described the findings resulting from a week’s hospitalization and a couple of botched spinal taps which left me shaking and numb.  She turned to study her twelve-year old daughter, sixth of eight, as though she might see something in my eyes or the smattering of freckles across my nose.

She repeated what he’d intoned.  Neuro-transmission deficit, she began.  Associated with infantile onset.  She stopped there and switched her gaze back to Dr. Burke.  Her look hardened into a glare.  She was sick when she was a baby.  Three of my girls were sick at the same time but this one, she was the worst.  I told them. I told them it meant something.  I told them.  She buried her face in her hands.  The doctor didn’t move but I  leaned over and patted her arm.

It’s okay, Mom.  I don’t mind, I whispered.  The doctor closed my chart and stood.  He had nothing more to say.  But my mother had  questions and as she hammered him with them, he lowered his body back into the enormous leather chair and straightened his tie.

She had a hundred questions but he had only one answer:  We don’t know.  I thought about my brothers.  I could hear them so clearly chortling:  “We?  We?  What’s this ‘we’? You got a mouse in your pocket?”  My mother would be helpless to restrain them.  First it would be funny.  Then we’d all stop laughing and turn in the doctor’s direction with one solid accusatory stare.  Who’s this ‘we’?  And why don’t they have any answers?

Mother gathered herself at last, and lifted her pocketbook from the floor.  We both stood.  This time the doctor remained seated, slumped in his chair.  Its luxury could not save him from his failure.  I avoided his eyes.

Mother worked her arm around my back and guided me to the door.  She thanked him, then, backwards over her shoulder, her head twisted as she tried to get us away.   Her voice sounded hollow and unsure.  He finally rose and made his way around the desk, one hand outstretched as though to do something.  Shake hers?  Touch me?  He had not even examined me in the hospital. He had not sullied his slim fingers. He’d left everything to minions — interns, and externs, and patient aides.   I did not know any of them, nor did they know me.  I skittered away from whatever he planned to do with that hand and ducked under my mother’s arm.

Later, at home, my mother talked in low tones to someone on the phone.  Her sister, maybe; her father.  Her mother.  I never knew.  I took myself to my bed and pretended to read, while the light  faded, the evening ended, and my brothers played touch football in the backyard outside my window.

Here in Kansas City, in the present, the sixty-one year old version of that child listens to the garbage truck go down the street.  I didn’t get my trash out or my recycle to the curb.  Some things escape me.  I tell myself, it’s okay, that mound of cardboard can be flattened and wait another week.  I lift the coffee cup and laugh out loud.  Remind me never to eat gluten again, I tell the dog.  This time, I’m sure she has no clue what I’m saying.  She yawns, and walks away.  I realize that I’m on my own.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

Me and my brother Steve, Christmas, 1992 or 1993.

Submitted for your consideration:  My wilder carefree self.