With the stroke of a pen, they enabled me to write the story, gave a framework on which I could hang all manner of dreams and assumptions, inviting a search I never quite got around to making.
I wandered the beaches of Estoril in my dreams, stalked the avenues of Lisbon, looking for a familiar face, but found only ghosts.
With the stroke of a swab inside my cheek, a vial of saliva mailed, the story came apart, and a new story slowly unfolded, gone forever was Iberia, replaced by Scotland and Ireland, Wales, Norway and Germany, and my dreams were filled with the music of the bodhran and Highland pipes.
I always imagined it would somehow be romantic, not in the Hollywood sort of way, but in an idyllic, picturesque manner, even if that denied basic reality. Reality, when it comes to origins discovered is overrated, for the normal percolation time is denied, and the impact is sudden with no restraints to temper the blow. Way back when, you learned by stories told by the elders, who know, or led you to believe they did without question, who painted word pictures, drew out fading photographs that barely seemed real. You believed them because they knew, knowledge directly proportional to their age. For me it was the inside of my cheek, a wait, and an email, and then news, place names barren of detail, Lithuania. Later, village names, and only then visions of pogroms, of flight, of a desperate search for freedom and West Virginia. Details were added, but the picture was monochrome, a barren, wordless palette and no brush to be found.
My muse sits quietly on the shelf over the counter in the Café Espresso
at Barnes and Noble nestled between 12 ounce bags of Colombian Supremo and Kenya AA, in the shadow of the plant whose leaves reach out to caress her cheek. She whispers to me between notes from the guitarist performing on the edge of the Music Department hawking his new CD to an audience there more for the coffee and tea. The philodendron scandens nods approvingly as I carefully tuck her into the pouch of my fleece jacket for the long drive home.
You say you appreciate occasional gifts of symbols of love. You expect me to bring you a rose it’s satin petals gently curling back at the edges, always threatening to suddenly unfold, alluring, drawing in the eye promising warmth and release. I bring you an onion, wrapped tightly, it’s papered skin, the luminescence threatening to break out but always just one more layer down. I help you peel back a layer, it comes off reluctantly, as if letting go of this secret could be painful or exposing. We, both of us, shed tears and I wipe yours with the edge of my thumb, you watch mine roll down my cheek and hang perilously on the edge of my jaw. I bring you an onion and peel it slowly, I lift the bit to your lips. It is sweeter than you anticipated but still it has a fierceness that borders on passion, and it will cling to your lips long after this moment has faded into memory.