November 22, 2012

John Bennett

STILL ALIVE

My son sends a photo of him standing behind a sign that says “Bennett Cemetery.” He’s way off, has a beard, but I can’t make out his face. I pull the magnifying glass from the drawer for a closer look–yes, there he is.

My granddaughter, who has come to live with me, is there when this photo arrives–neither of us has seen him in years. She looks at the picture and shrugs. “Who needs him?” she says, and goes into her room.

On the back of the picture he’s scrawled: Still alive. He mailed it to a mutual friend and had him carry it over to me. His reasoning, if I knew him, and I know him like the palm of my hand, was to keep me from reading the postmark and getting a bead on his location. But his friend delivered the sealed envelope in the envelope in which it had arrived–he’s in North Carolina.

A year ago he was in Orlando. Then Atlanta. He’s moving up the eastern seaboard.

I give warning to my relatives in Virginia via email and then go sit on the porch. My granddaughter comes out with her roller blades on, kisses me on the cheek, and goes gliding down the sidewalk, all thirteen years of her.

I have long since lost the illusion of having control over anything.

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004