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Tova Gabrielle

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The Frame
By Tova Gabrielle
Wednesday, January 17, 2007

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adolescence is psychosis....

All you can see in that photo
of the wild overgrown child now,
is his beautiful face, broken from rage.

Last week this mother tried to frame his photo but his hazel eyes bore her
impenetrable depression, accusing and fighting her.
Yet blind affection, she kept working
to find just the right colors to erase what she didn't want to see;

to embrace and smooth crooked edges
his photo, focus on the center
for balance; search the eyes for a hint love--a soft center that she could still be proud of.

The harder she worked against
unwanted intensity in the center;
a storm barely contained drowning pools; the more spirals; green and blue clashed against gray skin;
a face out the light seeping;
shadow eclipsing youth blaming, angry eyes, or was it hurt;
The eyes ignored the beauty with which she would have surrounded him if he'd only let her; produce a strong, simple structure; like the ones she'd completed for her other two children
who gleamed from the kitchen wall as she prepared his dinner.

It shouldn't be this hard she thought; she was only attempting to create a simple boundary with which to elevate his image and place it in the middle,
of his siblings, like his birth order; amongst the happy beach and basketball photos of his younger self, but in the middle he cramped; refused
to fit in, scorned her idealism and denial of his pain and rage.
The galactic designs mocked her fantasies of a lifetime great friend; falling and shattering in shreds and sharps on the floor.
The broken frame had been the most exotic piece she'd made, and equally exhausting. She had tried to plan it out, unlike the others; rolling earth tones into sky tones and freezing the colored clays so as not to distort their natural beauty and orderliness when she'd surround him with color.

She imagined him walking in from school, nodding his head, uplifted, when he'd see how well he fit in amongst the others. She could see him smile in
that understated way he had of compensating for her overstated love; shrinking back like the times when he was small: he would be laughing and
playing in nursery and he'd catch her gleaming at him and he'd suddenly get serious; trying not let her see him having too much fun. But there were other times when he was just so open it was funny: He called her once from nurserry school just to say: "Mom when you get here, I want a hug. Just wanted to tell you that before you got here, OK?"
Maybe it was his unconfined jealousy of his siblings so good and so in his way, that seemed to curse or at least weaken the frame ; or perhaps it was
his mother's guilt for being a mere girl when she'd birthed him; that impaired his mother's judgement and made her clumsy.
Whatever it was; after all that work, all she got was exhausted. The boy/man, was angered at how she adorned him; wanting to make it entirely on his own, or so he said.
Closing those heavy depressed lids to her efforts to manifest her love; to make it as accessible to him as the food she prepared. He seemed to determine that she should throw away this precious frame; and with it her sixteen year old project; ashamed, give up her thankless job of constructing inadequate structures. With little pride left, feeling more a slave or an abandoned dog, she shook her head at how reversed their relationship had become.
She has become his pest. In response to her accusations, demands and most of all her fatigue that reminds him she is going to die; ultimately abandon him; he says that he no longer loves her .
Yet he is unable to truly let go. He wants her to get it right. To make it all good. But he can not forgive her. Because she could not give him what all mothers tacitly promise their babies--no less than the whole world. She can't make it safe; good again; he's felt and seen the other side and he is being swallowed by all that she didn't prepare him for. He feels she must have lied, deceived him on purpose, made a fool of him for believing in her and loving her so desperately. He tells her she is a living in a fantasy. But it is his fantasy; for to him she turned from a goddess to a witch. She is only human, like him; this he can not forgive.
She re-made the frame, made it stronger and used happy aqua’s, roses, blues, grounded in somber maroons; her dried blood. But the dazzling colors fought with his angry gray face and shouted that he was not in the mood for the good things he'd outgrown--the foolish, optimistic love of childhood--gone with myths and idols and even God. She scraped the remains of the shattered frame from his face and then discovered she had covered too much of his thick stubborn hair nicking his still smooth cheek with over eager sharpness.
She put him in the envelope as if to return him to the womb where no further harm could befall him; taking you out only to show off to her colleagues. But they only glanced at the picture their eyes unseeing, like his.
So she places him in her bag and showed him to her art students in the school in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The kids on the fringes who understood or at least recognized pain. They were the ones on their last stop before jail, or who might avert it here, who looked with interest, even slight affection and admonished her not to take any shit from him.
What she wants him to know, her wanna be man, is she doesn't know what she's doing with him. She can't hold him up high like his innocent crayon drawings of trees and monsters on the kindergarten walls anymore. She just hits the wall, discovering that not only can she keep him safe, but that when he fell somehow he took a great comfort from her and left himself that much more barren but that is what he believes it takes to grow--and maybe
he's right; perhaps all this suffering is only growing pains. Yet it would be so nice if he had the buoyancy to accept her praise, the humility to accept her loving guidance.
She still has much she wants to give to him; he
who is starving for his lost soul, blaming everyone but himself. But the sweet sad boy doesn't know she was that way too when she was his age. He
doesn't know she believes the experts who say he will come through this in three years.
She wants to believe that he will not wallow in self-righteous rage as long as she had when shed pushed off so harshly from her own parents.
Her son, her peach, she believes is smarter than she, and the only problem being that right now he can't handle the truth. But she believes he will; if only in her denial; she wants to raise him up above her but when someone is so high up on a pedestal, as all children are if only in secret in their parent’s minds, the only way to go is down.
She tells the kids plainly: I like this one, though it makes me anxious. We have one teenager right now, and one almost-teenager, and I wonder if they will end up hating us as much as we hate our own parents. I mean, we don't really hate them, but we don't wanna hang around with them very much. They love you so when they're little, and they believe everything you say, and then when they get to be
teenagers, they get so mad at you because you're so stupid, and they still expect you to be able to read their minds. I dunno, she confides stupidly . . .
It'll be alright, he really loves you, he wants you to have faith in him the kids on their way to lock up, or perhaps who will avert it here, assure her and she feels that they've been through more than she and her son put together. thank God for their painful awareness. It's ugly and beautiful to love this tenuously, like a teenagers face, full of uncertainty and blemishes, all on the surface.

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Books by
Tova Gabrielle

Writing My Wrongs/ Ch.3/Prisoner of the freeway

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DIRE SALVATION keeps some of the characters from Neff's previous HARD CACHE and introduces fascinating new ones. The story is set in Washington State's Central Cascade mountains an..  
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