|Born||15 February 1905|
|Birthplace||Asheville, North Carolina, USA|
|Education||Hogwarts - Gryffindor, Some College|
|Spouse||Annette Saint Auxpris; Anneka Ivanova (divorced); currently, pretty much Able Sorley|
|Children||Wilhelmina Mason, Antilla Mason, Theodore Saint Auxpris|
|Parents||August and Sophia Mason|
|Occupation||Hogwarts Groundskeeper, 1952 - Present; Hogwarts Head Nurse, 1954 - Present; Dad, Grump, Poet|
My dear editor,
Hello again. It’s been a while, I reckon. You know how these things go. You’ve always known how they go, at least, with me.
Enclosed with this letter you will find a small handful of manuscripts meant for eventual chapbook publication. I trust you’ll recall my prior advice that, as the vast majority of my work is a load of rubbish, it’s best to shove these off on one of your interns, or at least someone lower ranking. Is Rigsby still there? He was always such a charmer, and with such a flair. I do, at least in part, hope that he’s moved on to better things--no offense meant, of course, to your fine publishing house.
I leave it up to you the release date, if any, and the order, as I suppose that either are of little consequence to anyone but myself and I find myself already sated enough by the burden of knowing how they went off the page.
To spare you the excruciating task of doing so yourself, and since I have by necessity of having written them already done so my own self, I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the meat of each, for your consideration.
The Wolf in the Walls/The Wolf in the Woods
The two title pieces, the only to be considered as part of this collection which stands on its own as a single work, are something of companion pieces. They focus on a single subject, though you will find him referenced as by several difference identifiers--the wolf, a man, and a state of betweenness that encompass both and neither at once. These are, at their face value and their core as well, love poems, but I fancy them (as you must imagine I must) as much more; a deeper exploration of the nature of the individual in the face of a force as destructive as love, one that contemplates, too, the many facets of self and how each of them in part or whole might be dismantled by something so simple as a smile, as a flight of blissful hands.
Pink and Blue Revisited
You might have the misfortune of remembering in an older work of mine, In-between, or How I Forgot a Few Things and Didn’t Bother to Learn Much More, a poem by the title Pink and Blue which, retrospectively (oh, Time, how you round all edges), was perhaps not the fairest treatment of the subject by the speaker. In Revisited, we find who those sad, well-read masses may safely assume is the same speaker revisiting (hence the title; I am endlessly clever, har har) the subject, who appears to have aged in appropriate congruity. The collection, which in time frame spans the course of several years and at least two cities, deals with themes of guilt and grief (both in their presence and absence), accepting and forgetting, and finds eventually the subject and her speaker reconciled. It is perhaps a bit fluffier than my usual work but perhaps old age has made me soft. It should sell well with the mothering sort.
Salt and Other Minerals
On this I confess fully to being under perhaps too heavy an influence of Henry and Walt and a bit too much rum in the sun, however I do think there is merit (as much as there can be to such things) to the words written within this collection. Picture this: the microcosm of the wood set in the structure of a school. Our speaker is its caretaker, a real salt of the earth type resplendent with all the flaws therein, and through poems with various subjects (we feature students, we feature faculty and staff, we feature rooms and places and the proper wood, too--all in a mix that is as organic as inorganic; the other minerals to his salt, you see) we find a man haunted and perhaps too stubborn to admit the search for redemption that he has undeniably embarked upon. The ending is open and draws no conclusions other than those that the intrepid reader might about his character and the nature of his world (a mirror, as ever, of them and theirs), which, as your type is inclined to like, I suppose, leaves room open to further explore his plight in subsequent collections.
Well, there you have it, such as it is. You will also find in the inset envelope a few pages of a work of prose (I know, I know; how I have for decades now riled against the form; how the ghost of my nineteen-year-old self must, in whatever tomb in which he has been locked away, roll) as well, working title “The Kudzu Kid.” Perhaps it will grow into something worth it. If you’d like to see more, send word along with whatever rejections you’ll be sending my way.
Good to speak with you again, my old friend.
Expect a line again in another decade or so.
It had been the only driveway that ever mattered, once, when things had mattered.
Snow was a rarity in the South (even in January, and it was January then) and the snow that marred the worn leather of his shoes was rarer still. Head bent groundward, his brown eyes watched each step—each terrible transition—white to nothing to the dirty gray of ruin.
Like a dream-damped sheen, ash covered even more than the snow—covered through it, over it, deep into it, for it and the snow had fallen at once, warring on the way down. Ash had been the clear victor—it was always ash, in the end.
Arlo shook his head and did not lift it.
There had been cowboys here. There had been great wars of poured-plastic army men. There had been books—God, had there been books, books of words, of photographs, books of memories and of forgetting and of nothing at all but ink, slung together angrily or in lustful euphoria. There had been curtains and a bed, there had been a mirror smudged with dirty fingerprints, there had been a bedside table with a lamp. There had been forts and fistfights and late-night secrets to the dark.
Now, there was ash and the melted carcass of a typewriter.
The boy—he would forever be a boy, though he had been out of his twenties long enough now to have lines crease his face—picked his way across the room. He was not quite careful enough—his toe caught, snagging against a burned out bed frame where it had tumbled under the weight of the flames. Ash bit into his knees, sinking its claws into him in threat of never letting go.
It didn’t, but he did, pushing up, brushing off. The persistent ash stained his knees.
The typewriter, or what had been a typewriter—the typewriter, the only typewriter—had one remaining key.
If it was anything in the end, it was ash, or it was Anne.
It was too early for this.
Head on the bar, he raised his finger for a drink.
The barkeep didn’t question this time, like he had before—or like Arlo thought he had before. His memory was fogged with years, with transition, with whiskey and with ash.
The glass, smooth and clean, felt familiar in his hand—stable, unchanging—and he swirled the ice within twice before drowning himself with its contents.
It, too, was ash—the whiskey cinders burned him up from the inside on the way down.
It was not yet eleven o’clock.
He raised his finger once more.
This time, he tried.
He mounted the driveway, the only driveway, like it mattered, like it wasn’t covered in snow or ash or anything at all—like it was nothing but the red clay that he knew was somewhere deep down beneath it all. He closed his eyes against the cold, willing it to turn into the warm sun of summer, and he thought of amber waves of wheat and beautiful, spinning, breathless skies, of the fruiting of plains and of sleeping on majestic peaks after.
For one moment, a brief, fickle thing, he could almost taste it.
But then there was whiskey, sweet and biting on his breath, and there was, of course, ash.
America no longer belonged to her, or them; certainly not to him.
“The house burned down.”
Tilly had grown, and her voice was that now—a voice, the voice of a girl, a girl with blonde not-curls and eyes.
Oh, those eyes.
They were all he saw as he approached the hull of the house. They sat there, in a borrowed body, locked on his, on Arlo’s.
For one moment, a brief, blinding thing, there was nothing but the colors of sorrow and sorrowful green.
She had her mother’s eyes, bless her.
“The house burned down,” Arlo repeated, his deep, lulling voice too sweet for the ruin of the front porch where he sat beside his daughter—the ash and snow of the concrete steps.
“Sophia was inside,” Tilly trilled. Her bird-light voice was not big enough for the words.
“Sophia was inside,” said Arlo.
“She is my grandmother,” said Tilly. She, like Arlo, looked at nothing at all, but her hands worked around the words. Her hands, too, were not big enough. “She is your mother.”
“She was my mother.” And Arlo was hollow, then, in the wake of those words, in the snow, in the ash.
“Sophia is dead,” Tilly concluded. She did not cry. Her eyes were not the only part of her mother she possessed. She said it again, chewed it and spat it. “Sophia is dead.”
There were so many dead things in the life of Arlo David Mason.
“Sophia is dead,” he mirrored, ghosting like a reflection, in the reflection of Anne.
She looked at him, then, turned her small face to his. She had his nose and Sophia’s mouth, but Sophia’s mouth was now ash. There was a smudge of the horrible stuff at the corner of the girl’s lips. Arlo licked his thumb, like his mother had done so many times in the years of his youth in this very spot, and he ran it over the spot twice, tenderly hard, until the filth was gone.
It was almost as if he knew what he was in for.
“Why?” The eyes, all green and no innocence, bore into him like he had been used to once.
Arlo shook his head. He knew nothing but ash.
“Ashes to ashes.”
High Holy, and Other Poems, 1924
Ghosts and Similar Hauntings, 1924
The Bees and Their Hives, 1925
On Maple Street, 1926
Swan of the Swine, With Various Other Mistakes, 1927
In-between, or How I Forgot a Few Things and Didn’t Bother to Learn Much More, 1927
Maple Street Revisited, 1927
Gold and Green, 1927
Saints and Other Things with Green Eyes That Fall, 1929