A memoir, “Commonplace” appears in the most recent issue of Red Coyote, Volume 34, 2019-20, published by the University of South Dakota and The Vermillion Project.
We were raised in rural America, or what we thought was rural. Not Iowa, Illinois or Nebraska, not even amid the cornfields of our own Ohio, rather on the outskirts, in a township. Our mailing address was Cincinnati, though we were far from any downtown. Our mailman drove a putt-putt three-legged truck; no one could have walked the length and breadth of our neighborhood. Delivery required wheels of them all: Mailman, Milkman, Fuller Brush Man.
Come to the long road of your childhood, where part of it contained a whip-curve that too many cars took too fast. Then the machines left the road to find a ditch or a front yard. Another segment dipped into a ravine with sheep held to the right, and at your left, a rickety house you declared haunted. Two story once-white colonial with the front grillwork for porch columns faded to a dark bluish kind of iron. The windows, the proverbial eye sockets, the roof mossy and leaf-strewn. The trees growing alongside were massive and protecting. You wouldn’t venture there. Your hikes never stopped there. Instead the sheep drew you to their wooly heads and you petted them through the bendy wire fence. The smell of trapped rain rose from their backs.
They were white but they appeared gray, or even brown. They were filthy and you adored them because they did not run from your grabby hands. You had always wanted pets but were never allowed because you were renters.
No pets could abide the top floor called your house, with four small rooms plus a closet-sized bath. The no pet rule was laid out flat by your mother. You could question Dorothy and cajole her and ask ten thousand times why.
You could beg, demand, fall into a fit of tears that lasted so many hours you forgot what you were crying over. You were crying for crying. That’s from where came the saying, for crying’s sake, right? One of the world’s riddles cracked open for you then, some small bit of meaning made clear, and you cherished it inside the little cabinet of your heart. Where you put things you’d never forget.
Like that treacherous curve in the road. Like the once-gloried mansion. Like Dorothy’s scolding and threats that sound now so much like affectionate bird song. You loved birds then, same as you love them today. They perch on pedestals in the cabinet of your heart, beside Dorothy. They sing to her in the morning’s dark and early hours, when you inevitably wake and can’t sleep, your eyes salty-tired and your arms achy from lifting a treacherous road, from straining toward Dorothy, with Dorothy.
Donna D. Vitucci - Author
Donna Vitucci is Development Director of Covington Ladies Home, the only free-standing personal care home exclusively for older adult women in Northern Kentucky. Her stories have appeared in dozens of print and online journals, including PANK, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Front Porch, Watershed Review, Gargoyle, Hinchas de Poesia, Contrary, Corium Magazine, Southern Women’s Review, Change Seven (Yay!) and The Butter. Her novel AT BOBBY TRIVETTE’S GRAVE will be published by Rebel E Press in 2016. Her unpublished novel FEED MATERIALS was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize and waits with other finished novels in a trunk.