live from earth

lance olsen
© 1991


Sitting on the porch steps of her farm cottage years later, Clarissa tried to imagine her husband's birth. How Bink already had a headful of long, thin, frazzled white hair when they helped him out of his mother's womb one October morning in 1950.

"Jeez," his father's disappointed voice rumbled somewhere above him. "It's a goddamn albino."

Bink opened his eyes and saw men in green gowns. He saw silver stirrups stuffed with flabby feet and scarlet toenails. He saw an obese mostly naked woman the size of his headache.

"So this is Des Moines," he thought to himself.

"You can always have the ears fixed," the doctor, still wearing a surgeon's mask, said as they peered over him.

Bink's ears were the size of adults' ears.

At the time nobody knew he would grow into them.

Lying there on a towel, browning clots of blood still clinging to his pinkpurple cheeks and neck and arms, quietly watching the activity spinning on around him, he looked like an inquisitive alien.

His mother began to cry, deep, hard, soulful, from that part of the heart where hope is kept.

"This is the worst day of my entire life," she said. "The absolute worst."

Head hurting, Bink looked over at her intently. He wanted to reach out and pat her on the tummy he had stretched. He wanted to put his arms around the neck that he had caused to strain just moments before. He wanted to comfort her, to tell her what he had already learned about the world, that sometimes our actions are questions, not answers.