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Uncle Ed the Oddball

Uncle Ed the Oddball

A man in the church
whom everyone thought had died,
had a houseful
of gizmos:
some of them would spin
seemingly
by their own volition, one
floated, suspended in the air, above
a silver plate. Uncle Ed
was perpetual motion itself—
almost all of
his inventions moved,
or dinged, or raised a flag, or released
a springy clown.
My mother, when she had to acknowledge him at all,
which was rare, called him an “inventor” but privately
scoffed “he thinks he’s Rube Goldberg.”
which I always heard as “rude”
and with which I did not agree
because he had hundreds of little drawers
filled with tiny screws and springs
and all labeled.
and he was always nice
to us kids and to me especially
and would explain to me,
or try to,
the secrets of the mechanisms
of his devices
and would show me
how his tools worked.
The police
arrested him one day
on what my father would only call
“a morals charge.”
After that we were not allowed
to stop by Uncle Ed’s
on the way home from school
and my mother said
“He’s not really
your uncle.”

25 April

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