Graphite on rag paper, 11” x 10”
In college, Aunt Stokesia broke up with her boyfriend of three years. She usually called him Stupid though his given name was Dale:
“Why must you do so many stupid things?”
“I’m not Stupid. I’m a rowboat on a lawn.”
She told me, her nephew, that Stupid was her first love. She didn’t fall in love again for seven years, until she met Uncle Rich. They got married, but after a few years, Uncle Rich developed a wandering eye and Aunt Stokesia packed up all of his pajamas and mailed them to a Good Will in Charlotte. They stayed married, two televisions on at the same time, commercials flitting around the room like moths.
Sometimes she wondered about Stupid. How was he doing? She often thought of tracking him down, but that would be stupid. Why bother? She saw life as a train trip and you can’t fold up depots and keep them in your dresser drawer.
Aunt loved 1930’s films. She saw Stage Door, starring Katharine Hepburn, fifty-one times before she turned thirty. “The calla lilies are in bloom again,” said The Great Kate’s character Terry. Aunt Stokesia enjoyed her garden and grew many callas of different colors. Uncle Rich didn’t like movies because they weren’t “realistic.” If realism were the Pope’s ring, he’d kiss it, despite not being Catholic. Stupid liked films that weren’t realistic. He didn’t believe in realism. Aunt Stokesia said that was stupid, but she halfway agreed and felt stupid for half agreeing.
Realism was sitting in the living room asking if Uncle Rich wanted pears or strawberries for dessert. She knew he’d say strawberries since he always said strawberries, but she asked anyway. She wished that he would think of something so original that it would blow the roof off the house. He wasn’t very original. Most people aren’t, at least to Aunt Stokesia.
Over bologna sandwiches on the porch, she told me: It’s funny how the years get dirty and you no longer have the strength to give them a good clean. Junk gets under the sofa. The counter gets a black goo that nothing will remove. You live with it. It’s stupid, but you do. You stand at the back screen door and look at the calla lilies which have just begun blooming. Watching. It’s what you do. Uncle Rich is out somewhere. A little burst of purple catches your eye. You continue.
Ken Pobo is a writer from Delco, Pennsylvania. He’s gay. He gardens. He collects records by Tommy James & The Shondells. His chapbook, The Book of Micah, was published by Moonstone Art this summer.
Maria DiMauro was born in Philadelphia. She received a BFA in painting from Arcadia University in 2001 and an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2007, where she earned the 2007 Faculty Award. Maria has worked as an adjunct professor at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, teaching courses in drawing. Maria is a member of the Cerulean Arts Collective located in Philadelphia.