Buryin' Gran and Other Stories by Frederick A. Lierman
The editor of this site, Frank Burton, said I could include a short autobiography and a picture, if I wanted to, so I’m supposed to introduce myself, a task for which I am not well suited. Here goes. I like stories. I like a good story, word by voice, words on paper, probably better than a visual story, although I like visuals without words that allow me to make up my own story. I learned to read when I was six, first grade, living in Northern Illinois. The books used then were ‘Dick and Jane’ books that went like this: ‘Oh, look. See Dick. See Dick run. Run, Dick, run.’ Followed by, ‘Oh, look. See Jane. See Jane run. Run, Jane, run.’ Followed, naturally, by putting Spot through the same exercise.
If I had stayed in Northern Illinois I might be a functional illiterate. Instead, we moved to Northern Florida where I was introduced to Alice and Jerry, who had an uncle with a toy store and a mule and the stories were much more interesting, so much more interesting that when I was called upon to read in class, I couldn’t, because I was about a hundred pages ahead of everyone else.
The South, at that time, seemed to specialize in stories, producing some great writers, which is immaterial because I wasn’t reading their material. Instead, I was listening to my teachers, all of whom put story time into the class schedule. And my mother, who gathered the four of us after supper was done, and read to us the classic stories she remembered. Then, she put us to bed.
As I grew a bit older there was radio, kids radio in the late afternoon and early evening, and more adult radio as the evening wore on. Radio for me was all stories. Some were drivel, some fascinating and exciting, some not understood.
At any rate, I wasted many a study hall when I was supposed to be doing homework reading stories. In ninth grade the study hall was in the library. I borrowed a book a day from the fiction section, and finished each one by the next day.
So, you can see, I like stories. They are in my history, in my very blood. I’ll tell you two here, very short and not in this collection.
The first begins with me in mid-afternoon on a Sunday before Christmas, half-way up a rickety, shaky stepladder in our den trying to fix a light fixture that hangs in one corner of the room. Even without the light the room is bright because it has large windows on two sides, and the lawn and shrubs are covered thickly with new snow. The TV is on in the corner of the room, tuned to Public Television even though there is a football game on another channel. You don’t watch football when your team, which was exhumed from the previous Sunday’s loss, is well on its way to being reburied. I am swearing. For those of you who don’t know, if you are doing a home project and it isn’t going well, swearing helps. It usually gets rid of the audience.
Anyway, I hear, “I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.” Knowing me, even as little as you do, don’t you think that got my attention. It is the second sentence in ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” Dylan Thomas’ work, and, as I watch, I see it being done in black and white silhouette, with a little man down in the lower left corner signing the story for the hearing impaired. But I can hear it. What a story, what a song that story is. I lean on the ladder and watch it to its conclusion.
If I could, I would own it, and my children, each would own a copy, and I would watch it again with their children every Christmas. I can’t. It appears that particular edition is not for sale, and I’ve never watched another version. I read it, though, sometimes aloud when I am alone.
Here is the second story. It’s called:
‘Coming Back From Town the Last Day of Camp.’
Each time I’ve seen
as I did the first time,
the shimmering heat
steaming the roadside flowers open
the summer I was fourteen.
clings to my skin, again;
heat squeezes my lungs.
against near solstice sun
reflected from the baked dirt road.
In my memory
I taste salt,
and old dust finds my teeth and tongue.
We lag behind the others.
She walks beside me, slowly,
in head-down silence.
I can feel her hand in mine
against the rules.
I am aware of being
all knobs and ribs and angles,
that my ears stick out,
and that she is beautiful.
She has brown hair, I think,
and dark eyes that meet mine
when we say we’ll write.
But we never do,
and now, I can’t recall her name.
So this is the picture of me, a romantic noir, who likes stories. I hope you enjoy the collection. There could be more, and if there is, we’ll fold them into the collection if we can. Thanks, and good reading.