Green Hills Literary Lantern





Deconstructing With Mom




The walk from the subway was short but she complained a bit about the wind and the garbage. He had watched his mother get shorter and noticeably rounder over the years. He walked at her pace.


“You’ll love this place, ma.” I’m much too old for such boyish excitement. “Very informal, no stage.  They just do favorite scenes from whomever they like, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Sophocles.”


She made a noise in her throat that meant she was prepared to be disappointed: this noise was part of his very being. They entered the large stuffy room which smelled faintly of gymnasium, full of people and folding chairs, and found a place to sit, not as close as he would have liked to the performers, and settled in. The company, six people in casual dress, introduced themselves.  They would begin with the Closet Scene from Hamlet. Gertrude and The Prince took the center, and an unlikely-looking Polonius stood to the side.


“Look at the shoes she has on,” Mother said, much too loudly. He shushed her and she lowered her voice just a bit. “Those are . . . Gucci! Those are not knockoffs!”




“Her shoes! Why would she wear those here?”


“What are you talking about?” he hissed.


“That’s the trouble with these artsy-fartsy types. Always looking to impress. Too fancy to wear flats when they prance around this dump. Pulleese.” The disdain in her voice was palpable. They were getting looks.


“Forget about the shoes for chrissake. Just watch.”


She was quiet for a while. The scene went as well as it can go without a bed.


“Who could do this? Who would have time? You gotta work, right? Raise your family, if you ever have one,” oh God no, he thought, “you don’t have time to get involved in this stuff. Rich people. Or starving students which Miss Red Gucci’s ain’t. That’s why they do this old high school classics shit instead of something edgy, about regular people like us.”


To him the whole room seemed focused on them. He went into a cringe he had learned early and practiced often, his head sunk into his shoulders, his eyes half closed. A faux sword thrust dispatched poor Polonius, and moments later there was applause to end the scene. The actors smiled and bowed. As silence fell his mother spoke with her usual exquisite timing; her voice bounced off the walls and found him hopelessly, helplessly awaiting the other shoe’s fall.


“I hope she turns a fucking ankle,” she said.






Edward Rogers teaches creative writing and literature courses at Truman State University. He has published poetry in GHLL in the past, and in many other venues. His book, Explaining Satan (Lambert Press), came out in August, 2009.