Tom is trapped in his body.
Tom tries to write papers. He’s been working on one about Albrecht Durer for a few years now, but it seems from my perspective to be a kind of circular activity, a polite way of saying he is repeating himself, not really moving forward.
PAPERS BY PHYLLIS VAN SLYCK 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 31
We don’t talk so much these days. The Parkinson’s is so advanced it’s difficult to understand Tom. His words sort of catch in his throat and sound like a tremor. He doesn’t exactly stutter but simply struggles to emit sound. It’s like a bird with a dry throat—well birds’ throats are always dry, I know. I hear him saying something like “caw, caw, caw” but the words remain trapped, just like Tom is trapped in his body.
I am sitting with Tom outdoors at Pete’s Tavern, a block from our apartment. The waiter struggles with Tom’s scooter but manages to wedge it in a corner so the other customers can pass. Zoe, our schnauzer, has assumed her frog position, back legs extended, face cradled between front p…