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.
his father's disappointed voice rumbled somewhere above him. "It's
a goddamn albino."
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.
this is Des Moines," he thought to himself.
can always have the ears fixed," the doctor, still wearing a surgeon's
mask, said as they peered over him.
ears were the size of adults' ears.
the time nobody knew he would grow into them.
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.
mother began to cry, deep, hard, soulful, from that part of the heart
where hope is kept.
is the worst day of my entire life," she said. "The absolute worst."
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.