XXII. FRUIT BOWL
His mother was sitting at the kitchen table when Geryon opened the screen door.
He had taken the local bus from Hades. Seven-hour trip. He wept most of the way.
Wanted to go straight to his room
and shut the door but when he saw her he sat down. Hands in his jacket.
She smoked in silence a moment
then rested her chin against her hand. Eyes on his chest. Nice T-shirt, she said.
It was a red singlet with white letters
that read TENDER
LOIN Herakles gave it to me—and here Geryon had meant
to slide past the name coolly
but such a cloud of agony poured up his soul he couldn’t remember
what he was saying.
He sat forward. She exhaled. She was watching his hands so he unclenched them
from the edge
of the table and began spinning the fruit bowl slowly. He spun it clockwise
Why is this fruit bowl always here? He stopped and held it by the rims.
It’s always here and it never
has any fruit in it. Been here all my life never had any fruit in it yet. Doesn’t
that bother you? How do we even
know it’s a fruit bowl? She regarded him through smoke. How do you think it feels
growing up in a house full
of empty fruit bowls? His voice was high. His eyes met hers and they began
to laugh. They laughed
until tears ran down. Then they sat quiet. Drifted back
to opposite walls.
They spoke of a number of things, laundry, Greyon’s brother doing drugs,
the light in the bathroom.
At one point she took out a cigarette, looked at it, put it back. Greyon laid
his head on his arms on the table.
He was very sleepy. finally they rose and went their ways. The fruit bowl
Stayed there. Yes empty.
-from Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson