Circle In Monkeyshines, Winter 2022

As some of you may know, my partner Toby Hobbes, aka dudley ghost is a musician / artist who frequently contributes mixed media to Jonathan Russell’s quarterly Monkeyshines zine. I have joined him in contributing to the hot-off-the-press Winter 2022 issue. Here is my contribution:

Circle

In a Queens, New York row house
a mother and her infant begin their daily stroll.
She pushes the carriage forward embarking on their route
in these trying times.

She turns right into the kitchen
then right through the living room
another right into the dining room
where mother and child are momentarily bathed
in a sunbeam through the skylight.

Another right turn and it’s
back through the kitchen again.

There’s a rhythm to the carriage wheels
rolling on and off the area rugs.
The mother chants along in a sing-song voice:
Right turn, right turn, right turn, sun!
Right turn, right turn, right turn, sun!

Around and around they go
through the sunlight every 37 seconds.
The child squints and laughs.
The mother smiles through her song.

This moment in time she will always remember
how she kept her baby safe.
This moment in time she will never recount
to a child too young to remember.

The mother’s efforts will not be in vain.
The child will live for 101 years.
Ultimately exposed by a grandson
who didn’t trust the science.

Lying in an ambulance headed to Elmhurst Hospital
There is some cellular recall.
A flicker of a memory:
Right turn, right turn, right turn, sun.

Monkeyshines | ˈməNGkēˌSHīnz | 1. pl. noun: Mischievous behavior.
2. noun What is probably the finest, best example of a zine in existence.

Subscribe to print edition: subscribe@monkeyshines.media

A little backstory….
I walk my dog in the alley behind a block of these row houses in Queens, New York. In the early months of the pandemic, I would see this woman pushing a stroller around inside her house. She would repeatedly pass by the dining room window, always entering on the right and exiting to the left, moving through a sunbeam from the skylight as she walked the stroller around and around. This image stayed with me as such an interesting symbol of the strange time we were living in…. this mother did not want to risk taking her baby outside, but infants are often calmed by the movement of a stroller, so she just kept circling around in the house, day after day.

My grandmother and her mother, Woodhaven, Queens (1918)

As comparisons were made to the 1918 flu pandemic, it occurred to me that my grandmother was born in April of that year in Woodhaven, Queens. This is just a mile or two from where I live now. My great-grandparents lived in a row house and, with the birth of my grandmother, had three daughters under the age of 6. And yet there was never a single story passed down about how they made it through or what life was like at that time.

Back to the present: my partner and I see this guy around our neighborhood who lives on the next block in the house where he grew up. When the pandemic hit, he was caring for his elderly mother and was especially concerned about her health.  As time progressed, it became clear that he was anti-mask and anti-vaxx. “For your mother’s sake, if nothing else,” I said; “you really should get vaccinated.” We started to avoid talking to him when we would see his stupid maskless face heading towards us.

His mother died last month. I am unclear on the circumstances.

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