It wasn’t exactly what you wanted, but you probably wouldn’t have been all that upset. It was all about you, but not for you, that comes later, and we know you’ll be pleased. This one was for some of us who needed this to be able to keep going, to keep from looking only back, into the darkness that is our shadow. He said it was a celebration, and it was that, and we put on our best faces, hid our tears as best we could, and as we stood in the cold air in the cemetery, we only wished it over, and when the sun appeared suddenly, we knew you wished that as well, but in your case, it was more likely that you wanted us working on the party we will soon throw for you and that one, too will be for us, but among the things we miss you for, was your willingness, you desire to share.
The pelican hasn’t been around for a couple of days, and we miss his akimbo dives into the pond, surfacing and throwing his head back to show he’s swallowing his catch even though we suspect some of the time he caught nothing at all, but knowing we’re as gullible an audience as he is likely to find any time soon. We hope he is off breeding somewhere, making little pelicans that will be able to entertain us next fall when we return, birds of our own sort, not snowy egrets but snow birds nonetheless. We don’t want to know any more about the mating ritual, some things ought to be private. We learned that painful a few years ago, when my brother thought it was important we see thoroughbreds bred. We prefer our breedings like good French films, suggestive but ultimately leaving it to our memory, like so much of our youth.
It is hard, looking back, to recall just how many hours I spent searching with a fair amount of diligence for just the right song to express my love. Most often I would find it, but only after that love had been replaced by another, demanding a new song — you cannot use the same song for two different loves, that crosses well over into tacky. I have to admit I’ve given up totally on that quest, even as the number of available songs has grown exponentially, or so the various streaming services suggest. I have only a single lover now, have for twenty years, and as her hearing has slipped away it is her lips that read mine, and that is all the song we need.
She walks slowly, the streets she once knew well, so much changed by time and memory released into the fog. It is hard going back when back is no longer there, where the store you owned, a place where you spent countless hours is now a sandwich shop, and so many others gone altogether for modern brick, concrete and glass. Still there is a T-shirt which she will wear as a badge of what was, a play she will never forget, as I remember the park in Salt Lake City were mescaline and blotter acid made the maples float above the ground and we sat in the summer rain and imagined golden butterflies but that too is gone as are all of the coconuts that once filled this grove.
Only in a French movie does a girl stand on a bridge threatening to jump or not and weave a story that so draws us in that by the end, when the couple is together, she now pulling him from the same brink we almost forget that the movie was in a language neither of us speak.
The Good news about rom-coms is that Hollywood (and occasionally Paris, Lisbon and Madrid, but never Berlin) crank them out endlessly, and each contains that grain or two of truth, like salt rubbed in the wound of a failed first marriage, and the balm of the discovery of true and abiding love. The small pail of rom-com truths is easily carried, sometimes off a too strong wind, but it is never enough to build a dune to hold back the waves of emotion that attend the most fragile and passionate of all human relationships. Yet we sit, smile, and watch hoping that this one’s grain is the one that tips the scale ever so slowly in our favor.
She says every woman should own a little black dress, and during the time she tries them on I am thinking what she meant was every man should be married to and in love with a woman who wears a little black dress as well as she does, but I say It looks really nice on you, You should buy it, and I think, I will find events to which you can where it frequently, because it looks so good on you, and you in that little black dress make me look so good standing next to you, and men, although they will never admit it, are all so often about reflected glory.
What I want to tell her is this: it’s fitting, perfectly, that you who so assiduously hid the past from me, your past and mine, now bars your entry, refusing you even the briefest glimpse. You want so to grab onto it to have it carry you to a place removed from here by time and distance, where it is warm and most of the time, cozy. It is also fitting that you call out his name, as though he was in the yard pruning a tree, delaying dinner, the same he you cursed glad to have him out of your life and out of your house, you wished him dead so that you might call yourself a widow and share condolences with the other black draped women. You never mentioned the six months of foster care or the little sister who came and went so quickly when he had the audacity to drop dead on you one morning. This is what I would say to her, this is the curse I would place upon her but she no longer recognizes me, I am no more than a well dressed orderly come to remove her lunch tray.
He watched as the flame licked at the lip of the candle, the wax slowly conceding and falling in, forming the cradle on which the flame danced. He wondered how something as simple as a wax cylinder could have an inherent knowledge of beauty and simplicity and yet he stared at it certain the knowledge was there. He dared not put out the flame for he could not deprive the night of this momentary beauty when it’s love, the moon had chosen to retreat leaving the stars to mock their small, immature brother.
My mother no longer speaks to me. It is not that she has been dead two years, that passage would hardly be an impediment for her. I would like to think she has nothing left to say, having said it all so many times in the past. Some say we will see each other again in heaven, but it is unclear which, if either of us, will be there, and I don’t look forward to once again being a child who can do nothing quite right enough for her, yet again, and for eternity, this time.