Normal History Vol. 595: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 36-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Ice Floes Aweigh
The queen mother calls to mother west wind.

Let’s be nice, all right. Bless the castle, and the titles and protocol.

Dad asks is there anything I’d like to ask, like, before he dies, anything I’d like to know.

I ask, “Dad, where did your dad come from?”

But what I’d really like to know is why’d you throw that huge glass of chocolate milk at me when I said I was moving out, at 17? And did either of you read my last book? And why do you tell people you’re going to kill the guy in the trailer next door?

I’m sitting here alone, drinking tea instead of gin, I’m respectable.

My brother tells me, on the phone, that civilized people do not leave their parents in their old age.

I have ice floes in my mind, everywhere white. Fur-trimmed mittens, arms linked. The backs of hooded parkas. Ice floes aweigh. The mist moves between them and me. I feel guilt and relief. I should run after them, bring them back, serve them tea. Ice floes aweigh. The desire to run after them disappears. I grab the door of the plane, hoist myself in. I don’t look down. Are they waving up at me?

Tea is at 11 and again at 3. Breakfast comes right after coffee, which is at 8, with a muffin or a scone. Breakfast is oatmeal and lunch is at noon, dinner is at 6 right after the 5 o’clock news.

Dad talks too much, stories from 35 years ago, something someone said at the office in 1962 is still bothering him. Or what about the time he threatened to throw the tax auditor down the stairs. Or the time he turned the hose on the guy next door. Or what big losers Margaret Atwood and Joni Mitchell are.

The queen mother calls to mother west wind. Let’s be nice, all right.

Bless the castle, and the titles and protocol.

What I really want to know is why’d you throw that huge glass of chocolate milk at me when I said I was moving out, at 17?

Ice Floes Aweigh” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):