Bruce Guenter CC
Aunt Mabel’s Cup of Passion
Under the protection of bankruptcy
Uncle John eased into an alcoholic
and one morning after
threw the Easter ham straight
into Aunt Mabel's
blue-heavy hydrangea bushes.
Drunk, Uncle John stole his
neighbor's lawn mower
and sold it to a stranger
and one moon-void night
filled his wife’s gas tank
Really no one's uncle,
and Mabel no one's aunt,
but it was she whom
the whole church adored
because, but for the capriciousness
of God, went we. And her eyes
behind her legendary specs,
in a sweetly tenacious way,
the lilies of the field,
though truth be told her cup
made Christ's passion look
more like a walk in the park.
Aunt Mabel worked
in the canning center, slinging
slabs of beef “like a man.”
At church, her lenses
resembled cut glass crystal
designed by the globs
of fat slung all week,
which, if left unsmeared
by the teasing boy,
did not entirely obscure her view
of the stained-glass Jesus's
tap dance on water, the vestibule
cloyed with flowers from someone's
bright garden, the front pew of children,
like bobbing daisies,
none hers. She was our hero,
a sufferer more real than those
in our Catholic cousins’
Lives of Martyrs. Codependant,
they call it now.
Never mind I ended up too busy
with college and marriage and divorces
to much remember her because her
telltale symptoms were mirrored
in my own floor to ceiling misery,
weeping at Whole Foods, pointlessly plotting revenge,
an Ahab anger at God, love-shorn stories with
the saddest endings flapping out of my mouth
like ugly jay birds. Once I came
home by bus and plane and my bored
brother’s Dodge Dart. Aunt Mabel was dead,
John’s storm-wracking vapor trail
eclipsing her prolonged plod.
If I remember it was winter that visit.
The road was a little dim although
the headlights were on, bright, that
moment night first seeps around
the beams, asserting its doomed desire
to hone and control. I think we were passing
their long scrub oak-lined driveway
devoid now of curses and specious cures.
The clouds must have parted
just at that moment and the moon
lit up the trunks right angled to
the iced over gravel, like a strip of coastline,
and above, but just for a second as I said,
limbs whipped in nervy dance. At that point,
I shivered, or as they say in the South,
a rat ran over my grave.
That old gal is pushing daisies,
my brother said, out of the dark
in his side of the car,
like there were daisies in winter.
or hydrangeas round as full breasts
in someone’s blue bottomless gaze.
It’s not spring, man, I said.
Choose another cliché. It was dark
enough after that for the yellow blade
of a comet or even a shooting star
subtending like a tiny leaped fish
to punctuate something,
but nothing happened. No
one ever tells the truth about love.
Dorie LaRue is the author of two novels, Resurrecting Virgil, and The Trouble With Student Affairs; and two collections of poetry, Mad Rains, and An Enemy in Their Mouths. She obtained her Ph.D. in English at the University of Louisiana. She lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, and teaches writing at LSUS.
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