born, September 15, 1927, 2nd child, wt. 6 lbs. 2 ozs. The hero is Dolores Marie Pischak, the place Fairfield, in my own state, my own county, its largest city, my own time. This is her portrait: O future worlds, this is her portrait——order be God damned. Fairfield is the place where the October marigolds go over into the empty lot with dead grass like Polish children's hair and the nauseous, the stupefying monotony of decency is dead, unkindled even by art or anything——dead: by God because Fairfield is alive, coming strong. Oh blessed love you are here in this golden air, this honey and dew sunshine, ambering the houses to jewels. Order——is dead. Here a goose flaps his wings by a fence, a white goose, women talk from second-story windows to a neighbor on the ground, the tops of the straggling backyard poplars have been left with a tail of twigs and on the bare trunk a pulley with a line in it is tied. A cop whizzes by on his sidecar cycle, the bank to the river is cinders where dry leaves drift. The cinders are eating forward over the green grass below, closer and closer to the river bank, children are in the gutters violently at play over a dam of mud, old women with seamed faces lean on the crooked front gates. Where is Pischak's place? I don't know. I tink it's up there at the corner. What you want?——
Here one drinks good beer. Don't tell my husband. I stopped there yesterday, really good. I was practically alone, yes.
Some streets paved, some dirt down the center. A Jew has a clothing store and looks at you wondering what he can sell. And you feel he has these people sized up. A nasty feeling. Unattached. When he gets his he'll burn it up and clear out in a day. And they do not suspect how nicely he has measured them. They need stuff. He sells it. Who's that guy I wonder. Never seen him around before. Looks like a doctor.
That's the feeling of Fairfield. An old farm house in long tangled trees, leaning over it. A dell with a pretty stream in it below the little garden and fifty feet beyond, the broad fence of the Ajax Aniline Dye Works with red and purple refuse dribbling out ragged and oily under the lower fence boards. No house is like another. Small, wooden, a garden at the back, all ruined by the year. Man leaning smoking from a window. And the dirt, dry gust. No grass, or grass in patches, hedged with sticks and a line or cord or wire or grass, a jewel, a garden embanked, all in a twenty-foot square, crowded with incident, a small terrace of begonias, a sanded path, pinks, roses in a doezen rococo beds.
Knock and walk in: The bar. Not a soul. In the back room the kitchen. Immaculate, the enameled table featured. The mother nursing her from a nearly empty breast. She lies and sucks. Black hair, pencilled down the top flat and silky smooth, the palmsized face asleep, the mother at a point of vantage where under an inside window raised two inches she can govern the street entrance.
A woman. Oh that old woman from next door.
The father, young, energetic, enormous. Unsmiling, big headed, a nervous twitch to his head and a momentary intense squint to his eyes. She watches the door. He is in shirt sleeves. Restless, goes in and out. Talks fast, manages the old woman begging help for a bruised hand. A man who might be a general or president of a corporation, or president of the states. Runs a bootleg saloon. Great!
This is the world. Here one breathes an the dignity of man holds on. "Here I shall live. Why not now? Why do I wait?"
Katharin, 9, sheepish, shy——adoring in response to gentleness so that her eyes almost weep for sentimental gratitude, has jaundice, leans on his knee. Follows him with her eyes. Her hair is straight and blond.
On the main river road, a grey board fence over which a grove of trees stick up. Oaks, maples, poplars, and old fruit trees. Belmont Park, Magyar Home. For rent for picnics. Peace is here——rest, assurance, life hangs on.
Oh, blessed love, among insults, brawls, yelling, kicks, brutality——here the old dignity of life hold on——defying the law, defying monotony.
She lies in her mother's arms and sucks. The dream passes over her, dirt streets, a white goose flapping its wings and passes. Boys, wrestling, kicking a half-inflated football. A grey motheaten squirrel pauses at a picket fence where tomato vines, almost spent, hang on stakes.
Oh, blessed love——the dream engulfs her. She opens her eyes on the troubled bosom of the mother who is nursing the babe and watching the door. And watching the eye of the man. Talking English, a stream of Magyar, Polish what? to the tall man coming and going.
Oh, blessed love where are you there, pleasure driven out, order triumphant, one house like another, grass cut to pay lovelessly. Bored we turn to cars to take us to "the country" to "nature" to breathe her good air. Jesus Christ. To nature. It's about time, for most of us. She is holding the baby. Her eye under the window, watching. Her hair is bobbed halfshort. It stands straight down about her ears. You, you sit and have it waved and ordered. Fine. I'm glad of it. And nothing to do but play cards and whisper. Jesus Christ. Whisper of the high-school girl that had a baby and how smart her mama was to pretend in a flash of genius that it was hers. Jesus Christ. Or let us take a run up to the White Mountains or Lake Mohonk. Not Bethlehem (New Hampshire) any more, the Jews have ruined that like lice all over the lawns. Horrible to see. The dirty things. Eating everywhere. Parasites.
And so order, seclusion, the good of it all.
But in Fairfield men are peaceful and do as they please——and learn the necessity and the profit of order——and Dolores Marie Pischak was born.