Tuesday, 12 November 2013

My hanging man

She watched him climb, hand over hand.  She didn't watch him climb.  Gone were the superstitious days when she thought a mother’s gaze, a mother’s thoughts should be locked on her child as if the creature couldn't exist without constant vigilance.

‘I’ll just take a picture,’ she quipped ‘so his unborn child with have a record of its father’s face before it hits the ground.’  The Facebook series already in composition: Going, going, gone.  Or more satirically:  chain saw masacree – will this mean a pocket-money increase? 

She watched him climb; stop, check himself, assess, focus, make his decision, careful, cognisant of his own safety.  His belt, heavy with tools, chain saw rumbling.

‘Won’t it cut his leg?’ she asked.

‘No, the safety catch is on, it’s only the motor running,’ an artificial calm coming from his father; another type of men’s work: don’t unnecessarily agitate the women unless for strategic gain, don't show your anxiety. Such is the nature of honesty.

She watched him climb.  Up swung the saw; caught expertly echoing the barman’s flaring he used to show off.  Scream, cut, catch the branch, aim, throw to the ground.  The next one: size up, measure by eye, by skill.  Scream, cut, catch, throw. Again, scream, cut, catch, throw.

Her aching shoulders relaxed but her neck remained stretched, stiff, watching.  More climbing, more cutting, catching, throwing.  Until the job was done.

She experienced neither his climb nor his descent.  What she experienced was his growth, his manliness, his care for himself and for the future of his child.  She was satisfied; a man who loves himself will love his child.

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