Peas in a Pod: part one
Its current carved the land
Many more miles long
Than the eye can see
Landholders, granted degrees
On the bank, exchanged in principle
The ornamental alloy
Ebrach, Richard thought. His father’s breathing, for a time inaudible, or drowned by this onslaught of wretched weeping in combination with Ebrach’s poetical spiel―meaningless to Richard―had become broken, as though the elder Richard suffocated, and fought death. Had he been awake, he would not have done so. But he was unconscious, and his mind’s instinct prompted these explosive gasps that counterpointed Ebrach’s baritone. Richard’s father would awake in full, lost and obdurate, spoiling for trouble; and Ebrach would claim this disruption had broken the courage of Micah’s tentative, flighty spirit. My fault, maybe, Richard thought. He had chosen to bide here at his father’s feet. Had he not, in a way, taken responsibility?
Richard was not willing that his own voice be heard during this ceremony; therefore he was unwilling to speak to his father, even softly, begging him to be still. With his arms around his knees, he sat angled to the dining table, taking sidelong glances at the three who sat there. With a fascination that churned him up inside, Richard’s eyes were drawn to Gremot’s back, to the knobs of a spine that projected so prominently against the cloth of Lawrence’s shirt, as to be visible even by the light of Ebrach’s lamps. This frailty and passivity stirred an urge to violence in Richard. Gremot had done nothing to aid Ebrach. He’d sat and wept, and had not written down a word.
Richard stared at Ebrach’s hand, closed over his mother’s. His mother sagged in her chair, her head inclined towards Ebrach, her swollen face oddly transfigured by the moisture that bathed it. She seemed younger to Richard…not the mother he’d known in his childhood, but like a child herself. He saw Gremot lift his head, and push himself to a posture half-sitting, half-cowering. And all the while, as he wiped at his face with Lawrence’s shirttail, Gremot shook with fresh tears. The fragmented light showed them glisten in the hollows of his eyes.
Peas in a Pod
(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)