“I’ll be back in town in late December. I’ve got to stop by to see you. You’ve been so much help.”
Her voice over the phone carried her decades, each a splintered-wood ship tossing on blue-waves’ ebbing persistence. Hoarse and smoky, she insisted.
She told me her daughter worked at the corner bar in town. All I had to do was to mention her name– and my drinks would be free.
“How old are you?” she asked, a question which was fifty questions, but really just one, and not the question asked.
I had to think on it.
What will we do with these years remaining, love? Now that all the gods are slain by our introspection, now that sunsets’ once playful pink-cotton foretells only night’s panicked, chirping-insect void, what shall we do with the stilled-scream horror of ourselves, as it sits lonesome and warted, hunched and spiny, digging its claws into gray-wrinkle skin? Trust– we’d given it wings of brass– tho it’d be too heavy a stone to find flight, tho it’d be only a shining statue, immobile, and disregarded, until the darkened loins of night swallowed its last glimmer.
Most of what I am to you now, to anyone, is the drunken musk of memory; I am aware, and was– before the sun considered rising over our wishfulness. Choose your poem, choose your sunshine-afternoon and pin its photo to the wall, and try, love, try– not to look too deeply into its shadows, tho they are there. Every thing, every creature, every love casts one, and it is as true a reflection as the silver-mirror lake we both recall– aye, one standing aside the other, hands clasped, shoulders touching, skin pushed tight against the still-winds’ coming, the echo-sound of beating wings, a winged shadow brushing its fingers atop the shimmer.
Even as you are gone from what we were, only the shadowy-well ache remaining, this howling void stays– the most potent reminder– these words, all that I am, wish only to fill the emptiness; these words wish– if only once, if only for the rustling leaf-turn of a golden-afternoon memory, your singular and acute understanding.
Autumn-evening’s sunshine, painting her skin in hues of young-hope’s memories, couldn’t change what she’d become. Greasy locks of grayed yellow fell over a round, scar-pocked face. Anger seethed, both hot and cold, as our eyes met, though she looked away. It wasn’t the type of anger that passes quickly. If not recognized as a damned and deformed sibling of one’s own, it might be missed, or misunderstood. She was ugly, obese, haggard, and cruel. Her eyes shone black with deep red bubbling beneath the dim film, darker than the first blood of a mortal wound, possessed of something few dare touch. No innocence had survived; no lies remained.