While I was waiting around for Phoebe in the museum, right inside the doors and all, these two little kids came up to me and asked me if I knew where the mummies were. The one little kid, the one that asked me, had his pants open. I told him about it. So he buttoned them up right where he was standing talking to me--he didn't even bother to go behind a post or anything. I would've laughed, but I was afraid I'd feel like vomiting again, so I didn't. "Where're the mummies, fella?" the kid said again. "Ya know?"
Holden meets these two boys in the Museum of Natural History. I believe they're the last in a line of kids Holden encounters in Catcher. Each one has a wild side. The boy above, with the unbuttoned pants, is a prime example. He doesn't know he's supposed to be discreet or embarrassed. He's an innocent, a resident of the rye field.
The kid with the unbuttoned pants is my son. My son doesn't care if his fly is unzipped. He hugs and kisses indiscriminately. When he plays, he plays hard, until his head drips with sweat. He hates baths, loves dirt, and doesn't stop what he's doing for unimportant necessities like going to the bathroom. He's my wolf boy.
Of course, that has created a few problems with his kindergarten teacher. Detentions. Red cards. Phone calls. I'm almost becoming immune to these events. They're becoming a normal part of my days.
That's what my new poem is about today. My missing link son. I've also included a new cartoon. It was drawn last weekend, when I was in the Wisconsin Dells at my daughter's dance convention.
Saint Marty has a pumpkin to carve for his son now.
My son had an orange day
in kindergarten, stuck crayons
in his ears, red in his left,
yellow in his right. Chased
kids at morning recess,
tried to lick them, his tongue
a pink bullet in the barrel
of his mouth. Sat under his desk,
screamed like a peacock at dusk,
roosted in dogwood above Georgia
clay, while his classmates practiced
their numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, up to 100.
Took off his shoes, socks, spread
his monkey toes, picked up
a brush with them, painted
water lilies in a pond on the floor
where sunlight sparked purple,
pink. Chewed his mac and cheese
at lunch to orange glue, spat it
on the table, made a map of Hannibal's
journey over the Alps, raisin
elephants on the highest peaks.
Beat plastic drums in music class,
refused to make that damn spider
climb the water spout, instead
played Ligeti's Atmospheres,
moonrise over the monolith
of his chimpanzee heart.
His teacher calls me at night, says
she's at a loss with my son,
doesn't know what to do
with his untamed ways.
I want to tell her it's all about
evolution, that he's learning
how to walk upright, hunt
through pinecone and maple
for blueberries, slabs of bloody
venison. Give him time, I want
to say. To learn the agriculture
of her classroom, its fields, furrows,
seasons of alphabet, trapezoid,
computer and gym. In this epoch,
he won't be caught in tar lakes
underneath asteroid rain. He will
survive, become a new link.
Homo kindergartenus. Note
the wide scoop of his skull to accommodate
all he will know by year's end.
His cave drawings hang on our fridge.
Concentric orange circles, bull's-eyes.
"See," my son points, "this is King
Pumpkin. He's bigger and oranger
than the rest." I stare at his paintings,
feel the planet skip, stars reorganize,
something end, something begin.
The dawning of a new age.
Tonight, I'll pack his lunch,
for another orange day.
Apple juice, carrot sticks,
maybe a grilled cheese sandwich.
It's supposed to rain tomorrow,
enough to make the mastodons
hunker down in the woods,
orange hair slick with mud, moss.
Maybe my son will find
them there, in the trees
behind the playground. He'll climb
into their orange center where all
he can hear is breaths.
Deep, orange breaths.
He'll skip school. Stay there
for the rest of the day.
Happy. Wild. Orange.
Confessions of Saint Marty