“I have a truth question” (Elizabeth)
Knowing land means knowing what is under the surface—
its parent material and how it arrived
at your field. The wind is its agent. I listened and was
amazed. I wanted to see the magic till
the end of my days too. A sunrise, the ocean, the kaleidoscope
of color cast by a prism, the ability to hold
a crayon or to dress and feed oneself. To really see. At what
cost? Beyond comfort there is something else.
Delusion. Deluge. For a while I existed in two parts: It might
be called strength, or endurance. Thresholds
are sacred places. “Exactly,” she said and with that she laughed
so hard she sounded like a good witch
in full bloom. How have we both been so loved and so lonely
this long? I mostly just listened and watched.
Still, the silence of how. Michiganders are so fucking proud
of that bridge. Someone there was having
a good day. A time when I was sick with pneumonia and I was
about to turn seven. In 1966, nice girls didn’t
have sex. We’d recite years: 1967. 1978. Ohhh 1952.
We tried on our sense of time, together,
smelled all the humanity against the metal. We talked about
a life well-lived. She smiles. “Everything.”
I love her. “This is the very stupidest present I’ve ever heard of,”
he says. Someone was holding a sign
that said “Hasting.” Dad was not a person to shower one
with praise—due or undue. / and then I am taken
the way I like to be taken / I imagine them lifting Beauregard’s body
together. Maybe not a twin flame, but a co-efficient.
Doing well in school became my plan. Building the house had
consumed him for three years. Then the fire
had consumed the house. The sap in the decadent, overgrown,
turpentine-infused Bishop pines became hot so quickly
that the trees exploded like they had been dynamited. What is it
about having someone serve you kindly that has
such a healing effect? You must be someone whose touch is
safe every time. “I still have your rake,” I add.
I wish I’d told you this. You know: sweep the shop, clean
the tools, greet the English-speaking customers
at the door and translate to Spanish if needed. I was still
coming to on a summer afternoon. I was
a little girl in love with an afternoon and the possibility of
an afternoon. Drinking summer nectar. Hum.
We stood with our bodies almost touching. “Oh, that’s right,”
she said, looking me right in the eyes. “You
can always blame this on me being crazy.” She’s a great
actress. She will make a terrific Abigail. The finely
divided blades with their high surface to volume ratio
heat through instantly at the fire’s leading
edge and flash from solid to flame, matter to energy. I drank
a lot of cherry coke Slurpees that summer.
Maybe if I didn’t walk back and forth in the same place
twice a day I wouldn’t repeat my well-worn
ruts. Our history doesn’t make us shameful, just our fear of
discovery. After exactly 75 minutes (Todd
and I both looked at our digital watches like every 40 seconds),
we left the party. Lot of vinyl. Was I too much
like the water, too far beneath? Perhaps not enough. Our field
is a moonscape. Denuded, it lies bare,
every pore and irregularity revealed. Its starkness is gripping.
Seriously. People spoke of the light. It was a story—
already—left open for me to fill in the details, or not.
–Elizabeth, Tom, Ralph, Clare, Cara, Margie, Denise, Melanie,
Bev, Karolyn, Stevie, Jonathan, Susan, & Shelley, 25 April 2012