Portrait of an American

Portrait of an American

Portrait of an American

Portrait of an American

Excerpt

William kept his head towards the house as he dug the dandelions up from the terraced lawn. There were two patches on his trousers' seat, and he didn't want Mrs. Upjohn to know they didn't match. Her steel-bowed spectacles carried her eyes out very far. And her Boston rocker overlooked the lawn.

William's mother had five active rears to cover from the world. William, next to the last of the boys, got things that had descended from his father's limbs at three removes. One of the present patches looked suspiciously like an old red jersey dress of his mother's. His father was above noticing his sons' bottoms. The time he could spare from his small grist-mill he spent on the fine print of his Complete Shakespeare . What a man who had raised two families could find in play-acting poetry, was more than the second Mrs. Winship could understand. She came of a race who had populated whole islands in Aucocisco Bay and kept Falmouth in lobsters. She wondered to hear Long Tom, when he should have been in bed beside her, droning away in his deep voice long after midnight:

"And nothing can we call our own but death, And that small model of the barren earth . . .

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