Arising into night the departing sun tangos away with its cloud, memories soon forgotten.
Other dancers take the stage, now a romance, now a war dance, feathers raised in prayer to unseen gods.
Night will soon bring its curtain across this stage, the avian casts’ final bows taken the theater will darken, awaiting another performance, a new script tomorrow, but for this solitary moment of frozen grace, it is we who write the conversation, our lines sung by actors who know only nature’s unrelenting song.
I spent too much time looking backward, looking into the past, looking into the mirror to frame a dream history of my desires and fears. He called one morning, left a message, “Mother died, more details will follow.” A mother his by birth, mine by legal act. I should have felt stunned anger, I said quietly to myself he’s cocky, has issues, and went about momentary mourning. That is the psyche of the adoptee who was never family, always an adjunct. Later my antediluvian dreams gave way under a torrent of deoxyribonucleic acid rain. She who I imagined in the mirror took name, took shape from and old yearbook, offered a history, a family, a heritage. When I knelt at her grave she told me her story in hushed tones, or was it the breeze in the pines on the hill overlooking the Kanawha? I bid her farewell that day, placed a pebble on her headstone, stroked the cold marble and mourned an untouched mother.
I remember the afternoon was cold and damp, with a persistent drizzle that escaped the clustered umbrellas, the sky a blanket slowly shedding the water that soaked it as it sat out on the clothesline.
I suspect you would have liked it this way, everyone in attendance, everyone shuffling their feet, wanting to look skyward, knowing they would see only a dome of black umbrella domes.
I recited the necessary prayers, kept a reasonable pacing despite the looks of many urging me to abridge the service, but the rain didn’t care about their wishes and I knew you wouldn’t so I carried on to the conclusion.
As they lowered your coffin into the puddled grave, I imagined you laughing, knowing in the end you had this day gotten the last one.
My history is like an ill- sewn quilt, odd pieces of parents stitched loosely together, always ready to come apart, fade or be thrown away.
Perhaps my history is more like a beloved old pair of jeans, holes appear and are patched, patches wear out and are replaced, or the hole is just left, as if it were somehow a fashion statement.
There is little normal when you are adopted, loved perhaps, but always on the edge of being an outsider, and when that is repeated, the distance grows exponentially, until you find a birth parent or two and the holes are patched with dreams of what might have been.
In my next life I want to come back as a Great Blue Heron.
I will majestically stand by a lake, capturing fish, capturing the eye of all who wander by, pausing in awe and desire.
And I will have the one thing I know I now lack, that trait that has escaped me for far too many years, patience, the ability to stand and stare until the moment is right, then to act. I am not in a hurry for this reincarnation, so perhaps I have more patience than I realize.
There is a strange beauty in the slow loss of sight, for there is a progressive transition, a discovery of much that went unheard, unfelt, missing in the glare of the need to see, to categorize and organize, memories neatly arranged in an array of curated visual files.
But without sight what once was cast aside as noise is an intricate tapestry of sound and undistracted, you begin to see the individual threads to see deeply into the art and craft of the unknown weaver.
Without sight, you so often store images in two dimensions but now requiring touch, everything is three dimensional of necessity and the world is infinitely more complex and yes beautiful than you recalled.
And the darkness of night, which marked a border that dared not be fully crossed grows meaningless and hours once lost may again now demand to be lived.
He left and we never saw the departure coming. We knew he would leave sooner or later, but not now. We had planned on his visit. We knew he meant he was coming. We knew he might just show up. He traveled on snap decisions. It might be here, it might be Paris or Italy. But there was always the long slow coffee hour with tales of his life as we listened intently. Now he is gone, and as we drink our coffee we tell tales of him and mourn his death.