HIS MOTHER RISES FROM THE DEAD TO OFFER THIS SPECIAL FEATURESandy’s Mother Reviews The After-Death History of My Mother, by Sandy McIntosh (Marsh Hawk Press, East Rockaway, New York. 2005)
He was always a disappointment. He should have run a bank, but he barely passed math. He should have been a wealthy lawyer, but he leaves his fly open and stutters in public. Look how he misinterprets my good intentions when I find these nudie pictures in his room:
My mother had rummaged through my room, never saying a word, leaving the naked pictures there for me to know she knew I had them. I was never beyond her grasp. Private parts would never be private. She herself was a greater force of nature than even adulthood, and we both knew her name was Silence. (“Private”)
Well, boo-hoo. I like things to be in order. How did I know how ungrateful he’d be each time he came home and discovered I’d rearranged and repainted his room? These were acts of love! Then he goes about copying down my senile remarks as if they were just the cutest things! For instance:
The hospital parking lot is empty.
My mother’s in her favorite chair refusing to speak.
“Such a character,” laughs her roommate.
“She touches you and tells you you are healed
and may go home.”
Her roommate hands me a pamphlet
with favorite quotations of my mother
assembled by the other patients:
a collection of libelous rumors concerning my wife and me.
One passage, supposedly from Jesus, reads:
No one knows what will happen
when I leave my tomb in the night
to touch you.
(“The Hospital Chair”)
He’s nothing but a plagiarist, a poseur.
In another poem he has me sleeping in the snow after I supposedly wander away from an Alzheimer’s institution. I was never in an Alzheimer’s institution. And I’ve never slept in the snow! Then he says he dumps me in the Public Library where they videotape me each week until:
… I was told that the library’s funds had run out
and my mother’s project would be terminated.
I would never see my mother again,
since over time she had become an image on a screen,
and the library would pull the plug.
(“The After-Death History of My Mother”)
Well, in his favor, I have to say that he does get something right:
We lower my brother’s coffin
beneath his monument.
Abruptly, mother hisses: “Look!”
Not twenty feet away,
the grave of my brother’s nanny.
“She wanted him for her own,” mother whispers.
“Now she’s got him.”
A decade passes.
The game of Cemetery Chess progresses slowly.
Mother dies; her monument
erected midway between brother and nanny.
As we lower my mother down
I whisper to the nanny: “Check.”
It’s justice that we keep the old bitch at bay. Still, I resent him using me, prying open my coffin, looking around inside, touching things, moving them. It’s a cheap way of making a buck. Even this book review I’m supposedly writing strains credulity.
Remember that film Psycho? Well, that’s him, my son. He’s put on his mother’s dress now and stabs at you with that horrible knife!
Mrs. McIntosh is still dead.