The final chapter is full of thank yous, breathing in the mystery of Canada Geese, whose wings pierce the ravine, the V of it, gliding inches above the Spokane River–
remind me, I say, remind me; I never want to forget, and inhale deeply, as if I could take that feeling into my soul-bones, my image keeper– a fragile place, for sure, always in need of being reminded by those who felt it, too.
He told me, you will remember the old things best, the very old memories, you want to forget.
I say: We appreciate too late, the most beautiful things.
It’s sad to think I’ll remember the one who didn’t love me, rather than the one holding me now, holding this memory of the geese.
I think I will write a poem to keep it, to remind me of what it is to fly, to love, to pause for a moment and try to inhale this feeling.
Imagine being nineteen again, still pimply and awkward, parroting a script from behind a plexiglass wall: Phone number, please, you say, and imagine her fingers, typing one in. You hear the click, clicking of keys on the keypad, sickening, music of the dead, you think, you’re dying.
You’re maybe a hundred pounds, just a little thing, whose mask covers two thirds your fragile face, and they buried you at the door, the enforcer, instructed to say— This door, not that, and arrows, follow them, follow them, do like I do, with this cover, my voice smothered, my soul—
I’m sure I was just standing there, leaning over my cart, watching my daughter shop for cards, when I heard her voice— not the enforcer, but a fellow peruser, like me, another blank face, masked, breathless, breathlessly, you’re going the wrong way, she said, you’re not following the arrows, she said, and her bony, dead finger pointed down along the ground. I followed it, and sure enough, she was right about me: Rule breaker, careless spreader of germs. The shame, the shame, she would have me feel, for facing the wrong way, disobeying.
Fuck that. My latest mantra. Fuck that and fuck that, too. Even as I do it. Where’s the humanity in this? I want to scream. But who would hear me? We’re too busy saving lives by not living, buttressed as we are behind masks, She doesn’t even realize I’m not smiling, Or, does she? Maybe there’s something of, fuck this shit, in my eyes, the only part of me she can see, if she tries to see, but she doesn’t.
The mask isn’t merely the covering for a mouth, a nose, — it’s blanket, too, as in a morgue. Covering the dead. And I know, my time is coming soon enough, but I’m not dead yet, covered as I am, prepared for burial. Yet, still pounding on coffins, trying to pull back the heavy veil, cursing my heart away,
The lasting sting of salt, zero point three milligrams per tear, yet, still they drop, tapped into an ocean where I swim, like a child, through the salty grief of letting go.
She’s gone with the quiet rains, too gentle to wash away the grief of my empty hands.
Even now, I know I’ll look back and wonder why it was so hard to let go. Time will blunt emotion, stunt the onslaught of memory, the true knowing of what was lost, now, so fresh, but soon distant, as gone becomes gone, and life, unable to stop, moves on.
And now I wonder, if one can be too intent on loving another, hold too tight the thing it can’t lose, then lose it. Did this truth come too late for us, my once held, or were we always destined to let go, and drop our love, like stones, into the dark well of undoing?
I like to think it was some great, cosmic, gravitational pull, two spirits, in proximity, drawn closer, meant to be together. I mean, why this one, not that one? You can feel the magnetic draw between two celestial bodies; what is that, if not destiny?
Everyday, I would write a poem, as if it’s my last poem, a last letter to a world I love, love, and hope it means something to say so, even as I know it means different to different– what does it mean, I hear the world asking, imploring me to offer proof. But you’ll have to take me at my word. A poem a day, a song, fingers along a rosary, giving thanks at each bead, and never running out of things to be thankful for. Bead, to bead, to bead: the sun, the stars, the grass, rain, blessings and blessings, love, yes, love– I don’t have to tell you, or prove it; you know what it is. I hope you know what it is.
Wings of butterflies, a vague memory of our wings. Birdsong. We sing, as we struggle to hear the melody. Revive and persevere. Strive. We hear it. Some days, it’s easy, like today: the journey, the song, the singing