by Barrie Jean Borich
Mona’s house was Ma’s House, on Wellington; down the street from the family business; across the street from her younger son and his blond counter girl wife and three wished-for-boy girls; down the street from her future nursing home that it will pay for to grandchild protest; and upstairs her older son will in middle age live with her alone—his wife and boy and step-boy living in a condo on his pay—and he’ll collect Playboys, ashtrays and towels from hotels, and all the old cameras he would shoot his mother with.
Mona jockeyed Polack maids for the mirrors, foyer check floor, seahorses in the library, candle-ears—the Mexican workers said—ebony banister, rose half bath, and plastic glass; and some drank her brandy and pursed things for their children and tended her grandchildren, all gums; and one fell in love with her son—who sweat the bed down the hall and took and swore this enchantress a home for her and her son still in Poland—and he impregnated her and it was hell and two eggs; and Mona said in mixed company Of all the women my son could choose that were after him this is what he does.
Mona’s Thanksgiving was made sincerely by the maid-now-daughter-in-law and some by herself; and Mona flourished herself upstairs with help from her son to draw the warm bath, drew on an empire in her boudoir—all but a chin-strap for her up-do—and mounted the top of the stairs, yelling her son to announce her; and his son and his wife and her son and their new son necked up to her and she wafted them to table and looked at her son and looked down—her upper lip pinned back like a seething Yorkshire Terrier—to dismay that What a shame it is to get all dressed up and no one is here.
Mona tippled and entertained her list; a puss-cat in draping arrangements, in a tease, glued up and evoking You look gorgeous as usual, So young, and Like Cleopatra—her accountant says of her long dead, flashing his god-long fingernails and sheen tie and shirt, she was a real classy lady—and she invited gay advances; and fans rang in patted candies, in her long hands, and delivered filigree things; till she was empty cawing bird sounds.