The difference between love and lust is as thin as the blade of a fine razor, as broad as the Rio Grande Canyon outside Taos, so how can you tell one from the other? Some will say it is an impossible task others will take the “I know it when I see it” route leading nowhere. There is no easy answer, certainly, but those who have tasted love will tell you the difference is monumental and elemental. I have wanted a woman deeply, cared for her, missed her in her absence but when my love, my lover, is not here I am incomplete, and that is an abyss into which I dread falling.
The priest droned on, a short passage from Micah had some questioning prophecy. Within the coffin we suspect Agnes too grew even more impatient, wanting final rest, wanting the party to begin, hating the tears. Later, with wine flowing, somewhere in the gray sky I imagine her knowing wink.
It is that moment when the moon is a glaring crescent, slowly engulfed by the impending night — when the few clouds give out their fading glow In the jaundiced light of the sodium arc street lamp.- It nestles the curb — at first a small bird — when touched, a twisted piece of root
I want to walk into the weed-strewn aging cemetery, stand in the shadow of the expressway, peel the uncut grass from around her head- stone. I remember her arthritic hands clutching mine, in her dark, morgueish apartment, smelling of vinyl camphor borsht I saw her last in a hospital bed where they catalog and store those awaiting death, stared at the well-tubed skeleton barely indenting starched white sheets. She smiled wanly and whispershouted my name — I held my ground unable to cross the river of years unwilling to touch her outstretched hand. She had no face then, no face now, only an even fainter smell of age of camphor of lilac of must
Next to the polished headstone lies a small, twisted root. I wish it were a bird, I could place gently on the lowest branch of the old maple that oversees her slow departure.
First appeared in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 30, No. 1-2, 2006 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008.
She imagined what it must be like to have wings. She always wanted to be unmoored from the ground, to be free of its incessant pull, to look down on it from high above, and not with aid of contraption, just her, arms outstretched. The ground was a prison. She could move about, yes, but never really free, that sixth direction always denied to her. The sea was as close as she could come to true freedom, the sandy bottom dropping away, but the water was an imperfect atmosphere. She finally found the courage and stepped free of the cliff, felt the wind beneath her, the earth below falling away and coming up under her. She flew on until the alarm clock ended her flight.
My mother wanted to tell me of my great-grandmother, a woman she barely knew, but who she imagined more fully that life itself would ever have allowed. History, in her hands was malleable, you could shape it in ways never happened. She wanted to tell me but she knew that her grandmother wouldn’t approve of adopting when your womb was perfectly serviceable, certainly not for a man more than a decade older who could not uphold his most sacred obligation. She wanted to tell me, but I am adopted and this woman can be no more than a story of passing relevance to me.
Catherine Camden is quite dead, so secure in her peace that her parting has faded and all that remains is her name, and that too, will soon be gone as she was, slowly devoured by the winds. The white swans on the Thames pay her no notice.
He only wants to know , he says what she fears most,what is her phobia, everyone has at least one, he claims. She thinks about this for a while then smiles and says her one true fear is called phobophobia, and that she says positively terrorizes her. He looks confused and she sees it. I fear, she adds, people who are in fear even though I know they aren’t contagious. He smiled, took her hand, and said You have nothing to fear from me for I am generally known to be fearless. At that she cringed, knowing that Her second greatest fear was mythophobia and he was a walking, talking example.