The ghosts of my birth parents blow into my dreams as so many white sheets torn from the clothesline by gale winds, fly over me, at once angels and vultures carrying off memories created from the clay of surmise and wishful thinking.
I invite their visits, frail branches to which to cling in the storms of growing age, beginnings tenuous anchors to hold against time, knowing the battle cannot be won, but take joy in skirmishes not to be diminished by an ultimate failure I have long come to accept.
So if I have it right, God managed to come up with ten plagues for Moses to visit on Pharaoh, although at the time Moses probably could not understand why it was ten, since God was boundlessly creative, or so He told Moses.
Maybe it dawned on Moses when wandering in the desert that ten was a convenient number, after all, he only gave Moses ten commandments, but I doubt he told Moses they were a starter set and the other 603 would come along in due course, but Moses wouldn’t take the blame for them, he’d be written out of the story in Book Two.
I know what you did not tell them, that much I could learn for myself, but what did you tell them? I know you were full figured, I think that is the acceptable term, once it was Reubenesque, but someone must have noticed something.
Maybe those at work, sitting at their terminals didn’t notice, you came and went, few friendships perhaps, but you were close to the family, they must have suspected, though you told the agency no one knew, certainly not your partner in that act.
It won’t change anything, best since you took the answer to your grave, the one I visited to greet you and bid you farewell, the least a son can do for the mother he never got the chance to know.
All too soon, I will return as a ghost and how you and others deal with that has yet to be seen, although know that ghosts are reflective, and your thoughts will determine both my presence and mood during such visits as I choose to make to you.
You may not believe in ghosts, I did not for years, but as you approach that state of post-being you realize that ghosts arrive in dreams and you are helpless to control them, so lie back, enjoy me when I visit, for I have an eternity of options too soon at my disposal.
Last night the actors trod the boards carrying us on their backs. This wasn’t Pittsburgh but we believed it so. We’ve never been to the Hill but we walked its blighted streets. In the mirror we are white, but not last evening. He is five years dead but last night August Wilson escorted us to a place we had never imagined, and we were all too glad to visit.
I’ve always imagined that one of these nights I’d see my mother’s ghost. I would welcome the sight welcome she that bore me, not she that stepped in in a way,absolving my birth mother of her sin, while assuming adopting me would make her complete.
She hasn’t visited yet, neither has done so, but I hold out hope, it is after all the last to go, and I do hear her voice, faint and all too distant, sounding very much like my own one instant and then no more than a faint whisper in retreat.
I don’t need a long conversation, a few words would more than suffice, but some at least, a child should in advancing age hear the sound of a mother’s voice, if only to find solace in the fact that her choice to yield the child was made from love not defeat.
Of course, she’s sitting there, calmly, staring off onto space. She has to know something is amiss, no one has come to visit her in days, but she knows that whenever, if ever, whatever it is that is happening is finally over, that they will once again return, stare at her, wonder aloud and silently why she is smiling, and she will as always say nothing, for she was once told that it is better always to leave them wanting more.
Tomorrow Paris will count its newest dead, and the hospitals will pray the tide of bodies has been stemmed, or diminished and none of those in the battle will pause and consider DaVinci’s lady imprisoned forever in her sterile room, an eternal prisoner.
First published in Dreich, Issue 20, Autumn 2020 (Scotland)
He expects that she will stop by and visit. This is a perfectly reasonable expectation though he knows she behaves as she chooses and that is not always in accordance with any standards of reason. Nevertheless, he waits for her visit which doesn’t happen. He will later get the courage to ask her why, she will say I had friends I had to see, and when he says “you were three miles away,” she will say, “but I had limited time to be there.” Months later she will ask him to come visit. He will say it’s a two hour, expensive flight and he can’t take the time away from work. She will remind him in her harshest voice that she won’t be around forever, that a visit even a short one, is the least a son can do for a mother, and when he reminds her that she couldn’t visit when she was there three miles away, she’ll say, “that was different I had friends I simply had to see”