God sits at his easel, brush in hand and thinks about the butterfly alighting on the oak. This man would rather paint the nightmare of hell, but he has been cast out and his memory has grown dim. He remembers being a small child amused by the worm peering from soil in a fresh rain and how when he split it, both halves would slither away in opposite directions. Now he rocks in the chair and watches night fall and shatter on the winter ground.
First Appeared in Medicinal Purposes: A Literary Review, Vol. 1, No. 6, Spring 1997.
He says he wants to know what I want done with my ashes knowing I want to be cremated.
I tell him I need to think about that for a while, knowing that “while” could be an ever shortening lifespan, but I dare not tell him that, it simply wouldn’t be acceptable he would respond, setting off another endless discussion.
I don’t say that time, in this rare instance, is on my side for truth be told I don’t care what he does with my ashes, I am gone and that’s that , bit a nice spot in the center of the mantle in the formal living room would be nice.
Acuity is such a strange word, sharp on the tongue and in meaning, but also a mark of what once was, what will never be again, replaced perhaps by a visual vacuity, comfortable word, no sharp edges, vague images floating behind a gauze seeping slowly into a scrim, knowing the stage will soon enough go dark, despite the ever brighter lighting. But replaced perhaps by ever greater auditory acuity, all edges, cutting sounds unmuted, fine shades of gradation, hearing clearly what you will soon stumble over yet again.
An elk stands at the edge of a placid mountain lake and sees only the clouds of an approaching winter. A black bear leans over the mirrored surface of the lake and sees only the fish that will soon be his repast. The young man draped in saffron robes looks calmly into the water and sees a pebble, the spirit of his ancestors. I look carefully into the water looking for an answer to a question always lurking out of reach and see only my ever thinning hair.
FirstAppeared in Green’s Magazine (Canada), Vol. 29, No.1, Autumn 2000.
I have to compliment you, after all you ignored me for four years in high school, condemned me to the outcasts, the geeks, the losers, the barely tolerated and then only when the Headmaster was watching.
I didn’t go to your parties, no one without an invitation ever dared, was left to the clubs no one wanted to join, but I have to say I was truly surprised, shocked almost when your letter came, reminding me of our great years of friendship, our camaraderie then, but regrettably I must decline to contribute to our class fund.
In my dreams I wandered the alleys of Lisbon searching for a familiar face, and many came close, but no man stopped me and asked if I was, by chance his son, for he dreamed I was what a son of his would look like.
Now I have no need to wander for I know he is in a military cemetery in Burlington, New Jersey, and I doubt he had any idea in life he had another son, or a daughter in Italy, for weekends were quickly passed when you had to be back at the base by midnight on Sunday.
She sits demurely on the step staring off at something. You want to know what but her face isn’t saying, her eyes soft, revealing nothing, her smile enticing, teasing, and out of grasp.
You want to sit with her, see what she looks at, what has captured her thoughts, and there is room on the step for you to join her, but you have never met, you cannot sit next to her, she there half a century ago, and you know she will only be the stuff of dreams one night.
Spring has arrived, however begrudgingly, and the young woman pushes the older woman’s wheelchair along the paths of the great park. Neither speaks, but each knows this could be the last time they do this. That shared knowledge paints each flower in a more vibrant hue, each fallen petal is quickly but individually mourned for, its beauty draining back into the soil. The older woman struggles hard to fully capture each view for she knows that it is possible that it will have to last her an eternity.
First Published in Beautiful in the Eye of the Beholder, Sweetycat Press, 2022