Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 5 No. 3 | Fall 1983 (Seattle) /// Issue 5 of 24 /// Master# 53 of 73

Coming together like prayer. So many males, the deep moan-chant from their hundred throats, spread out in a cross, my son at the center, running hard in place falling, counting, highpitched yells. Screaming like Indian women for their dead, like Ute women keening . . . (“They used to be called the Redskins, but the Indians protested.”) Counting. Clapping. Running backwards . . . Army, like soldiers for their dead . . . Helmets. Like astronauts. Like astronauts on the moon . . . It’s not that he’s slow. It’s his enormous form taking up so much space. His lope. A sort of long-taking stride, a lazy graceful landing. He never was afraid of falling. “Come on Doubiagol” A voice down there explodes, up, hitting me in the heart, echoes around the cement stadium. “Come on Doubiagol” as they hit. Shatter of shoulder pads. Love It’s raining hard by the time practice is over. “Mom, wait!” As I turn back to him, rain and sweat pouring off him, enormous in the uniform, making me feel dwarfed, a little like a Catholic school girl, "Give me and Gino a ride back to the gym, will you?” I notice four or five guys behind him doing something like crawl-and- facedowns the length of the field. They run ten yards, then fall flat on their faces and bellies, completely prostrate, then jump back up, run the next ten yards, crash to the ground again. A coach is walking alongside of them in the pouring rain. It looks a little unbelievable. Are they really going the whole length of the field? “They had penalties in the game. They’re called U-Reminders.” We all climb into my little Psyche. Moonlight, left in the van, is delighted. After greeting them, he scrunches into my sleeping bag in the back behind the boxes of writing, looking ahead eagerly, tongue wagging. Danny sits in the passenger seat, Gino on my bed. What a sight! Two of the largest men in the world, they look like a different species. Beautiful smell of sweat and rain. My incense and wine smells. In my rearview I see Gino pick up one of my three “Son” pillows, the one that has the photograph of Danny at 16 during a Mendocino homecoming game. My sister made that one. The picture appeared on the front page of the Mendocino Beacon. Midgame they changed his position so he had to change his number. So there he is shirtless in his shoulder pads, golden curls all down his neck and eyes, golden belly button, so much slimmer, so boyish, his hair long, I can still hear the girls going out of their minds, catcalling and whistling, and the cypress and sea waving behind him, Mendocino High, surely the most beautiful football field in the world. The pillow looks small in Gino’s hands. He doesn’t say anything. Danny doesn’t seem embarrassed by me now as he was in high school. How much more mature he seems. Self-confident. As I drive up the hill to the Special Events Center, feeling their weight on Psyche’s engine, I reach for the other pillow. “Remember this?” He takes it in his hands. “Yeah. Jan made it for me." It's a crocheted pillow, red and white, and it says in the weave AMERICAN PRO #52. Jan was the sister of poet Bill Root, my age. Danny was 15, Jan was 17. She wanted to get married. I hitchhiked to Elk to get him rubbers, so afraid they’d get pregnant. After thinking about it for awhile I gave my permission. What better way at 15 to get educated, I realized, than to get married! A good education. He broke with her a few weeks after I said okay. I always suspected his basketball coach put him up to it. What I love most about the pillow is that it’s stuffed with her used panty hose. The third pililow is a secret, what it’s made of, what it’s stuffed with. As the Indians know, if you give away all your secrets, you lose your power. “Mom, there’s this guy on the team, he’s the other tackle, he wants you to do his horoscope. I told him you would.” “Really?” "Yeah, he’s a Libra too, like me. He has the same birthday as Coach McBride. He’s a great guy except for one thing. He’s real prejudiced. He’s German. His mom was born in Germany.” In the back, Gino chuckles, sneeringly. When we pull up at the Special Events Center Danny gestures to one of the wet tired players from out of the swarm. Huge grin, showering rain and sweat, golden curls dripping into his eyes, helmet under his arms. Alex Gerke, 6:05 a.m., October 14, 1961, Pasadena, California. What a smile, what a Venus smile. I remember that I did the 1979 team’s chart. Ruled by Venus. I couldn’t figure out what kind of football team would be ruled by Venus. Love, comfort, and beauty? “The defensive linemen of Texas were sucking for air." Dan Doubiago, Utah offensive lineman The Salt Lake City Tribune, 9/20/82 Texas Sucking for Air When you drive 80 yards you’re really beat. It takes it out of you. We were on their 20 yard line, humidity and heat like a sauna, when we looked into their faces. That’s when I saw they were sucking for air. We were exhausted too, but it was Gerke who started it, squealing and screeching and pointing. We looked around and knew what we were going to do and we were all screaming, jumping up and down, pointing at them, howling. They freaked, their coaches on the sidelines freaked, trying to figure out what was up. Very next play we got the touchdown. NFL Draft April 26,1983 My birthday. I’m dreaming Danny is a small blond man with a butch haircut. He’s not a football player. He’s just a very interesting young man. I wake with the D-------- an was 15, Jan was 17. She wanted to get married. I hitchhiked to Elk to get him rubbers, so afraid theyd get pregnant. urgency to call and tell him: “Danny, you don’t have to be a football player.” Have I ever made this clear to him? I’m sleeping in my van outside my sister’s house in Ashland, Oregon. I climb out, climb the stairs and dial his number. The paper had said he’d go in the third or fourth round. When I reach him, he says: “Mom! That’s a terrible dream. Go back out in the van and dream another one. And don’t say ‘fuck,’ you're hooked up to the microphones and everyone in this room can hear you.” Then he wished me a happy birthday and apologized for not sending me anything. Later in the day when I called to see how it was going he did something gross. "The newsmen talked me into it. I swallowed a goldfish live.” “Danny! that is gross. What about the poor goldfish?" “Oh, it doesn’t hurt them. They’re digested instantly." The song the orchestra plays at draft headquarters in the Sheraton Grand Ballroom in New York City. “The Day Belongs To You.” Free Agent April 27,1983 He signed with the Seattle Seahawks! I can’t believe how excited I am that he’ll be in Washington, how much he’ll love it there, how much I'll love it with him there. His agent convinced him, though there were fifteen other teams after him and the second one was the L.A. Raiders — L.A., where he's wanted to play pro ball all his life— that he should sign with Seattle. They have a new coach, Chuck Knox, they offered him the most money, they’re trying to build their offensive line. In the past 24 hours he flew twice to Seattle! Mothers' Day I got a huge bouquet of flowers today! The card says, “Happy Mother’s Day, Love, The Seattle Seahawks.” Troublesome mom August 9 I wrote Chuck Knox a letter. I thanked him for the beautiful bouquet of flowers and told him he’d made a terrible mistake in cutting my son. I told him all the ways he’s a great football player. I said it was immoral of him to sign so many guys to one position (20 for Danny’s) so they can’t be signed by other teams. When I told Danny I had done this, after three starts, knowing I was going to be taken as a fool, he said “Mom, you can’t do things like that. They’ll blackball me for having a troublesome mom.” Where now? August 23 Danny is in Los Angeles with his agent. His spirits seem high. It seems he’ll get signed somewhere — perhaps a USFL team. He’s working out, staying in shape — I think of driving down. Has Any Woman Ever Written About Her Son? I raised my son during the 70s feminist revolution and in the midst of it, in Plain- field, Vermont and in Albion on the Mendocino Coast, both strong feminist centers. Yet for all the wealth of material on the subject of feminism, I could find nothing on raising a boy from a feminist perspective. In fact, in our two towns, it was the policy of separatists to rid themselves of their sons, an issue that to this day makes me, to use a girlhood expression, see red. Beyond the first issue of the personal loss for each boy, the tactic always struck me as creating the enemy in aiding and abetting it with the one sacred, karmically unbargainable force, one's child. The theory, prominent among some separatists, that human males are inately evil — that is, the aggression that leads to the oppression of all other species derives from the male XY chromosome factor — has always struck me as preposterous. I birthed and then raised both a male and a female and through this was witness (as all parents are if they are open to it) to just how culturally programmed the male/female roles are. Males are no more aggressive than females, we just expect them to be so. We freak to the depths of our own programming if our boy child is too passive, our girl-child too aggressive. The psychological punishment inflicted upon anyone who transgresses these roles in society is as great as any in our culture. In childhood, in our culture at any rate, the biggest trauma after the initial confrontation with one’s mortality, is finding gender identity. The boy, in comparison to the girl, has double trouble. He must differentiate completely from his mother. He must pull back, withdraw, learn to be like the distant, probably absent father. At all costs he must not be like her. He is encouraged to feel distaste for her. Thus we have the “natural” origins of mother hate, of woman hate, of the male’s embrace of everything opposite the mother: war, mechanism, mastery, control, abstraction, the intellectual propensity toward anti-matter (matter from mater, that is, mother). It is time we mothers began to discuss the raising of boys. The issue is at the heart of our tragedy as a culture. It was the birth of my son that radicalized me, that forever changed me. It is one of the great mysteries to me why this is not universally true. I take the definition of parenting to be the work of protecting and nourishing the immanence with which the child is born, the preserving of the genius, that is the uniqueness of the individual against the onslaught of fascistic culture, to hopefully allow the child to reach adulthood still in touch with some of its true self, and even of the other world. We abandon our children en masse at puberty. At their birth we start programming ourselves to do this. (How often it is said of the infant, Oh god, just wait until the little hellraiser, the honey, is a teenager.) By young adulthood, they, as we were, are orphans. We are always having to begin anew. Waves and waves of us, each North American generation. We have no roofs, no guides, no role models, no communities, no traditions of real love. No families. And so we are afraid. We are sick. We are cowards in our collective flights from true energy. We are, still, Puritans. We must learn to find and use the courage we each know from the act of conceiving children. In this we are automatically, instinctively wise, experienced in all the things the culture denies. Son The bullet went through me, lodged beneath my heart, swelled and grew until the birth was a man I rode into the bloodstained hands of the world that laid him on my belly, the prairie, the sea. I seek myself in him. I know myself in him. He is me, in another time, in a male body. I am not being metaphorical or poetic here. It is, very simply, true. He is my child, he came out of my body. More true, he is the love act personified, the union of his father and me . . . the one part of the union that can never be undone, dissolved. In my son’s body I have the sense that my body dominates, as I think I see in our daughter the father’s domination. In my son’s body I see myself gloriously male, all my cells given over to the phenomenon. When I look at him I can feel my cells being fulfilled, that part of me I keep so hidden from being acknowledged, released to the world. His huge hairy legs are my huge hairy legs, allowed to be just that, huge, muscular, with no shame or reluctance or shyness or compromise or other vision that have made mine so pleasingly female. Over the years, I’ve noted that most men I’ve known in the subculture seem to have special relationships with their mothers. I choose men in whom the mother is dominant, the bullshit killer machismo subdued. The most evolved men, it exclaims in my first journal, were raised by single women. This was greatly contrary to everything believed at the time; i.e., divorce will destroy the child, particularly the boy-child who will be without a role model. On the other hand, I now find it as shocking as anything I can think of in our culture that so many men let go of their children, have little or no part in raising them. Men of the counterculture are particularly guilty of this, a syndrome that is in part the twisted effort to maintain personal immanence, to not get sucked into the establishment’s machine. A university football coach, unsuccessfully trying to recruit my son, said to me, in all seriousness: “The only thing I can think of that is greater than the magnitude and profundity of a football game is a woman in labor." Actually, I can think of something in the male world that matches the magnitude and profundity of a woman in labor, which can perhaps best be summed up in the popular graffiti: War is Male Menstrual Envy." Interestingly, many of my male friends have encouraged me to write this, while I detect in my women friends uneasiness, confusion, even disapproval. There is already so much given to the male phenomenon, they are afraid I will just add more energy to it. They don’t trust me, or anyone, to speak of these things. I don’t trust myself either. Am I just being one of those “typical” mothers who won’t let her son go? I remember my own mother “practicing” to let go of us. Women know so much more than they can speak of. Women’s lives are the real subculture. Long ago they grew accustomed to having their deepest convictions, their deepest realities trashed — ignored, denied, ridiculed or beaten out of them. Long ago their love for men, their fathers, brothers, lovers and sons, was shown to be worthless, of no potency in the larger world. But from this vast cultural sub-pool of betrayed energy and of broken hearts, the secrets have become the Sacred. And in this, have become the explosives of the coming Revolution. Of course, the main reason I’ve written this is because I’m an old-fashioned mother. I love my son. I love my daughter. I support them, I celebrate their first adventures out into the big world. I don’t want them to let the culture trash me. It would not be good for them. Nor for me. I still have a lot to teach them. And I want and need, desperately, access to them and their new worlds, for them to teach me. What other hope is there? ■ Sharon Doubiago is a “poet of America” currently residing in Port Townsend. Her epic poem, Hard Country, was published in 1982 by West End Press. Clinton St. Quarterly 7