Divorce, Letting Go, Love, Relationships

Lost & Found

diamond in sand

Six years ago, I lost a diamond. It was a tiny bit from the whole, just one of many fragments — a single round stone from my father’s mother’s wedding ring, chips from my maternal grandmother’s jewels, and a white gold base that had been my own simple engagement ring. A craftsman put all these together and carved it with fine floral scrollwork.

At a December birthday party for Bug’s preschool friend, I glanced down and noticed the hole in this wedding ring. It was one of several small diamonds, easily replaced. Even so, the loss agitated me. In that tilting moment, I felt stripped, even a little ashamed.  The chattering conversation with other parents swirled around me and I couldn’t find my place in it anymore.

Looking around was futile. The dizzying bounce-castle playland reeled with dozens of shrieking children, a mini train, a video arcade, and a vast carpet littered with cake crumbs and rock salt shaken from winter boots.

I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone. The hole felt like exposure, like it was baring some part of my story I wasn’t ready to face or share. I turned the band around to hide the cavity inside my fist.

When the ring came off six months later, it stayed off. By then, the holes in the marriage had multiplied beyond repair.

The ring lives now in my jewelry box. A little tarnished, it still bears the lovely tiny flowers. It still holds my Grandma Francis’ flawed stone. It still has the cavity where the lost chip used to be. For five years, I’ve been meaning to have the thing refashioned. With no unmarried cousins in line, why not turn the raw material into a necklace? A tiara? A bindi dot for nights on the town? This is what the brokenhearted do sometimes. They start their repairs from the outside in, turning burdensome symbols into pretty trinkets.

A wise idea, no doubt, yet here we are. Down in a dark tangle of discarded costume beads and widowed earrings, the ring is silent, holding what’s left of my grandmothers’ gems. It still contains that tiny reminder of something shaking loose, something escaping when I was looking the other way.

In grim or sentimental moments, I lift the ring from its shadowy velvet coffin. It is less fraught now, just metal, stone, and a little bit of history. The hole there no longer chills. In fact, I am oddly fond of that missing piece. That space is where the light shines through.

Back then, the story called for a way, and an opening appeared. This is how it goes with loss.

Now I claim the absence along with the substance.

I imagine the lost diamond out there, carried away in the tread of someone’s shoe, crushed into an icy Glens Falls sidewalk. It rises with the spring thaw and courses along rivulets, down, down, until it splashes into Lake George and sinks to the cold, jagged bottom. It returns to its beginnings. It becomes what it was all along: rock, debris, the stuff of earth churning back into itself.

Freed from the confines of its white gold setting, it expands, morphs, rearranges its atoms.

Eventually, in the full, unfurling expression of the shape it’s decided to take (for now), it returns.

When it does, I barely recognize it.

The messenger, the man, is already kin. I blink until I see in him the resemblance of the generous gift of my family’s love now multiplied. Their glinting progeny reaches for my wrist and draws me – the girl, the woman – into the next chapter. From their place in the wings, the ones who have passed from the story now urge us to carry on. Their part is over. They leave us here to do what we will with what they entrusted to us.

Last night, my grandmother’s diamond returned.

Changed, certainly.

And so much more lustrous than if it had never gone its own way.

 

 

Letting Go, Love, Relationships

My Shimmering Lovely

Today is a resting time, and my heart goes off in search of itself. If an anguish still clutches me, it’s when I feel this impalpable moment slip through my fingers like quicksilver… At the moment, my whole kingdom is of this world. This sun and these shadows, this warmth and this cold rising from the depths of the air: why wonder if something is dying or if men suffer, since everything is written on this window where the sun sheds its plenty as a greeting to my pity?


 

Albert Camus, Lyrical and Critical Essays

Heartache is a bitter decadence, the dark chocolate of emotions. Indulgence means savoring the long, slow melt.

Tonight, I wallow.  Continue reading “My Shimmering Lovely”

Choices, Love, Relationships

Sky’s Limit

There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love.

Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

Nowhere in the Odyssey or Iliad will you find the color blue. Homer’s sea was dark as wine, his sky fingered rose. Indeed, the word itself is missing from the whole of ancient Greek.

This defies logic. The vast canopy envelops us in blue. What blindness could obscure those coruscating waves as the bolt of silk billows open to the day? Sapphire, azure, cobalt, cerulean. We see this now and maintain it must always have been so.

But this too: What name was glass when those first Mesopotamian beads fell from the fire? What did we call that handful of thatch when we ventured out from the cave and found ourselves in need of a roof? The people of Atacama never have foggy memories. And you, city dweller, suburban native, may live a whole lifetime without capturing in words the clank and groan of the pumpjack as it drinks up oil from under the broken steppe.

To know a thing is to name it. We describe what becomes familiar as our mind splits it from the mottled everything and our senses fight to trace its shape into being.

When a thing is everywhere it is nowhere. Sky becomes blue when we develop the capacity to make blue and the concurrent desire to trade in it. Indigo velvet, lush royal moire. Now we grind a once exceedingly rare pigment out to its dizzying extremes. Now we call up a spectrum of descriptors for the field across which the sun and stars make their journey.

Indeed, we have dozens of terms where we used to have none. These words pin our eyes to ever-finer slices of hue, and we discern every shade as a distinct and almost solid thing. It is impossible to un-see what’s fixed now on the canvas, so we assume these shades were born with the world.

We believe we name what exists, when really, we birth what we name.

Ask this: what might the sky be without lapis and cornflower? To the ancient Greeks, it could have been a copper valley laced with honeyed streams, or herringbone and almond root, or blood seeping through sheared wool. From dawn to dusk and around again, petal and wing and wine and jewel. The sky holds anything given a name.

But only that, and nothing more.

Now you pull the door closed as you leave.

You take our words, all the ones we’ve only just begun to distill and to weave and — yes, we were almost so bold, we came so close — to conceive.

You, one who was not until he was. In the anonymous swirl, a faceless other. I was as blind to you then as Homer to a 21st century sky. If my language had a word for you at all, it would have been as it is with “bird” until the plangent whipporwill calls down night, with “tree” until sweetgum briars bite tender feet. You were stranger, neighbor, father, man. The general is where things might have remained.

Then I saw you.

I see you.

You are.

Then we have in our hands the material of us, thread and patches, a whalebone form. But what is it? What word do we coin for this new architecture?

Do we even think to ask?

When the sand-burnt debris fell out of the fire, it could have been stone, it could have been trash. Its very existence was determined by the lexicon’s outer limits. Beyond that horizon line, all things embryonic swim in the invisible not-yet.

Until someone picks it up and says, this is something else.

The boundaries shift. The world expands.

Sifting through ash, someone finds it again, shares it, and someone else finds it yet again. They begin to recognize it as an it, to spin it and shape it, and the infant entity takes its place in the vocabulary of civilization.

How many beginnings are discarded or broken, how many — for want of notice — fail to hatch?

How many nameless wonders already walk among us that we are unable to see? What kaleidescopic marvels sing against our blind skin?

We can garnish our curiosity with courage. This ability is our human birthright, and we can let our minds split an almost imperceptible variance from the mottled everything. It is up to us to marshal the tremendous combined force of sense and choice, and to trace the shape into being.

Kinship becomes love when we develop the capacity to make love and the concurrent desire to trade in it.

Love becomes the invention into which we breathe life when we sift it from the ashes and say, this is.

We are.

This is something else.

 

Children, Growing Up, Love

Overboard

Slow-Swinging Sea
He stirs as I tiptoe past. It was the quietest of midnight bathroom visits, but sensing proximity, he surfaces. The butterfly nightlight gilds the unfurling comma of his body. He mumbles and I bend down close. Is this just a ripple as he passes beneath or is it a call up to his divemaster in the waking world?

“I had a nightmare.” A moan chokes the almost-whisper, tears bubble under the almost-plea. He asks still sometimes. More frequently now, he turns into himself and finds uneasy comfort in his approaching PCS.

He reaches for me from the small bed we’ve tucked into a nook in my room. For one night, this night, he is here. I must remember what I so easily forget: Tonight is the only night.

The only guarantee is this.

When does it go? Does the wind change, do we get any warning at all? The story has its own arc and rarely does it show mercy to the players.

Our neighbor died last week. Every day, he walked his goofy dog named Mulligan. Every day, he beamed out a smile. So many of us here lock our gazes on the ground as we stride headlong across the face of the day, but he spared a moment for a hello.

We rode the bus together to the metro in the mornings. This summer, along with his tattooed son, intermittent daughter-in-law, and 5-year-old grandson, he went camping in Minnesota. We rode together then too, taking bus to metro, the clan lugging duffel bags and airline tickets. He came back with sunburned cheeks.

The tattooed son walks Mulligan now. He smiles and says hello just like his dad did. Mulligan wags and sniffs and strains at his leash, doing the same.

In the great green room, there was a telephone, and a red balloon.

When was the last time we read aloud the book we used to know by heart? Who can call up the final Sweet Baby James?

Tonight is the only night.

Tomorrow, my boy will sleep in another place. Behind a closed door, in a dorm room, alongside his troubled lover. He will rest on the shore of the cove he’s found following his own songlines. He’ll plunge into caves that crack open in his private sea floor. He’ll battle the Leviathan that has fed on his leaked blood and whispers.

I sit down on the carpet next to him. Our dog is curled into a ball on a tattered wool blanket on the other side of me. She is a soft pulse, a shuddering exhale. I stroke my son’s hair, its tangled gold, its damp heat. He sighs. Then he touches my arm and pulls it down across his middle. Turning, he tucks me in under him, extending my reach, strapping my slender weight across him like a harness. I lay may cheek against the warm place his head left on the pillow. His discarded breath is my oxygen. His scent, my surf.

Soon he is rhythm and release. When his grip relaxes, I plant a kiss his slack cheek then roll away.

It is deep night and I am so very tired.

I fall into the passing current of sleep, drafting in the slipstream of my son’s swift descent.

Image credit: Asleep in the Arms of the Slow-Swinging Sea by Ruby Levick

Family, Home, Love, Relationships, Things I Can

96. Things I Can Witness: Sickness, Health

My mother was in a severe car crash yesterday. I say “crash” because of course it was an accident. Also, two drivers slammed their vehicles into each other. Damage and injury ensued. Crash it is.

I learned about this crash from a text. “I’m sorry I won’t be able to walk Noodle today. I’m at the ER waiting for a cat scan.” This is my mom. The request for help is ever-so-gently implied and braces itself for disappointment. Also, she cares always that others are okay. Concern for everyone else gets top billing even when she’s just wobbled out of an ambulance.

I called and texted to dead air. I was already en route (though it was anyone’s guess which hospital), having left a garbled message for my supervisor about missing our afternoon meeting. Then my mother called back.

“I’m mostly okay.

“Is Dad there with you?”

“He’s at a lunch meeting. He said he’ll come when they release me. I just got out of X-ray and now I’m waiting for the scan.”

“So you’re there alone?” I’m already turning off campus and heading north. I have to press because I know she’ll cover for him. It’s a ridiculous charade. Hell, Bug and I were their housemates for three years. She knows and I know that my father puts work first, so I ask again and she half apologizes for him even while pinching her lips at his absence.

“Oh, it’s fine. I was worried my teeth were broken, but it turns out I only had a mouthful of glass.”

We hang up and a few minutes later she pings me back to let me know my dad is out of the meeting and on his way. Sure enough, he arrives before I do, so I turn back and land at my office in time for my boss.

After a diagnosis of bruised ribs, a goose-egg, and random surface havoc, they send her home. When we talk later, Vicodin drags her speech out and she assures me she’s fine. “The shower stung a little.”

“What do you need?”

“Your dad’s here. I had a can of soup. Really. I’m fine.”

I’m sure she is, though I’m less than certain of his capacity to keep her so. She takes very good care of my father. Even around the edges of her own career, she always stocked the fridge and made the vacation plans and supported my sister and me well into our respective adulthoods. She tends to her chaotic extended family, schedules the carpet cleaning and window replacement, and feeds the cat. She keeps everything humming along.

My dad has his own ways of contributing, and I see this a little more clearly now that the fog of my adolescent daddy issues has (mostly) lifted. When my mother’s frustration with her husband’s obliviousness makes her want to explode — she was in Scotland for 2-1/2 weeks and returned to a fridge full of rotten food — she repeats her mantra: “He is a good provider.” Indeed, he is better than anyone I’ve ever known in this regard. He would have made his own daddy proud.

True to the gendered roles of his generation, my father takes care of all the outside chores and most of the structural/mechanical/HVAC aspects of the house. True to the equality rebellion of that generation, my parents work towards their financial and retirement goals together.

It is as surprising as it is obvious that my father would leave off work halfway through the day to care for my mom. In his way, he is her warm (if itchy) blanket. As she convalesces, she’ll have to give him a grocery list and remind him to take out the garbage, and he may forget to follow through on both. Even so, behind her voice on the phone, I hear his. He’s there next to her on the sofa, cracking jokes and laughing with her at Bill Maher.

For most of my life I have run in the opposite direction of my parents’ relationship. I’ve sought out intimacies that were so dissimilar, they may have been a different species altogether. Certainly my marriage was an odd imitation. It outgrew its costume in less than a decade.

The friction my parents generated in the first half of their marriage led to a separation and almost-divorce when I was in my teens. The concessions they both made to repair that rift seemed far too pricey. I have been determined to be more communicative, less gendered, more adaptable, less childish. Along the way, I’ve build expansive and byzantine and ornate and enchanted romances with people who were wildly unsuited to me.

But I have yet to build a home.

And this, I hear through the phone, is where my parents live.

My father is there for her. Sure, this comes after a pause to complete the work which occupies at least 75% of his attention. Nevertheless, he comes. And she asks now for only a smidge more than she ever hopes to receive. Sure, the longing for a more complete union is forever pressing from beneath, stretching taut the skin of her diplomacy. Nevertheless, she accepts what he has to give.

He stayed and worked from the house today. They took a break and he ferried her to the lot where the tow truck stashed her totaled Honda. After emptying the glove box and trunk, they headed back, stopping at the supermarket together to stock up. He will be with her when she starts test-driving new cars. She will be with him when they review their bank accounts to decide what they can afford. He’ll go back to work. She’ll return to her book clubs and volunteer ESL classes and (fingers crossed) walks with Noodle.

For as long as this chapter of their lives together lasts — and we all see with more sharpness today how instantly the book can close — they will be the ones who take care of each other.

Here I sit, quiet and a little stunned in the solitary place that contains the whole of me. It is night here. My son is at his father’s. The dog dozes by screen door. A retreating rain and the thrum of the interstate are the only voices that pass by. They dance at the windows then slip away.

It’s a marvel. Somehow, for all their mistakes and failings, my parents have fashioned a partnership, a love, a home. I pick up some of the discarded garments and turn them over in my hands. Split seams, yes. Stiff stays and rough hems and oversized buttons. Still, they could fit. If I arrange them to my form, if I piece them together with my own tattered wardrobe, I might find they suit me after all.

 

 

Children, Creativity, Love, Things I Can

12. Things I Can Make with Him: Classroom Valentines

The note in his backpack says the students can bring valentines. Participation is not mandatory, but you must choose everyone or no one. Bug grabs the paper and gives it the once-over. “I don’t want to.” He starts to hand it back then notices the small postscript: Students may bring a small treat to share.

Now he’s interested.

“We could make teeny-tiny slices of chocolate cake,” he says. I picture his teacher trying to pass out 25 wobbling mounds of frosted pastry.

“That might be a little hard for Mrs. C to serve.”

“Cupcakes!” He says. “With icing!”

It is already 6 pm. We don’t have cupcake cups or a carrier. What we do have is reading, homework, dinner, bath. CVS sells sticker cards and the store is just two blocks from where we’re sitting in traffic. “How about just writing out valentines? We could go get some.” My offer is tepid and he knows it. He grunts. “Okay then,” I say. “Brownies. They’re just like chocolate cake, right?”

He sits on this. We’re turning onto our street and he’s in the back trying to get the dog to poke her nose out the window. Evening is sliding fast into night night and it’s been one hell of a week at work. “You know,” I say. “You don’t have to do anything. It did say no one — ”

“Oh! I know!” he cries, “GINGER SNAPS!”

I take a breath . . .The things I can. . .  and urge a smile into my voice. “Okay, ginger snaps.”

With this “yes,” I’ve signed the contract.

After dinner and reading and homework but before bath, we pull out our supplies. Bowls, flour, eggs, cookie sheets. Even from scratch, ginger snaps are the easy baking project, the one my mother used to leave to my sister and me when we were home after school. The butter would be out softening on the counter, the stained recipe card leaning against the floral tin box. Mix the “wets” with the “dries,” form into balls the size of walnuts and roll in sugar. When Bug outgrew a half dozen quasi-food allergies around age 4, he fell in love with ginger snaps. He used to call them the “black cookies,” for reasons I never figured out. We made them together every few weeks. Standing on a stool next to me, he would hit the sweet spot between creative focus and sugar mania, plunging himself elbow-deep in the mess.

I didn’t realize he held a fond memory — or any memory, for that matter — of ginger snaps. We have something of an unspoken cookie ban in this house. I haven’t eaten a cookie in over two years and haven’t made one in even longer.

Even so, this recipe is printed right into my hands.

And although the stool is no longer part of the set, Bug is as thrilled as that long-ago preschooler to bring this delicious idea to life.

The kid wants to measure, pushing brown sugar deep into the cup. He wants to crack the eggs, taking one careful whack at a time. I ask him if he remembers the spices that go into the recipe. “Cinnamon,” he says. “And, um. . . oh! Ginger!” I let him sniff at the cloves to identify the third, and he says, “I know that one from the botanical gardens.” In early winter, he and I wandered through the sunny spice exhibit together, trying to identify and describe cumin, onion, vanilla, fennel.

He fits the beaters into the mixer and whips up a tornado that melts into a pungent batter the color of café au lait. Because it’s only Thursday, we decide to refrigerate the sugary mush and bake it tomorrow so the cookies will be fresh on Friday. He unties his apron and bounces down the hall to his waiting bath.

It’s late now, well past bedtime. I’ll be grumpy in the morning. Even so, I leave the heap of dishes and follow him to the bathroom, rolling up my trousers so I can soak my feet as he jabbers away in the bubbles. He’s well past baking now and is on to square roots and number lines.

I pour water down his hair and back. He hums and curls into the cascade, head tilted back, eyes closed.

There’s a good chance this boy will someday have a sweetie. There’s a good chance that she or he will drive Bug bonkers as he tries to figure out how to do the love stuff. No doubt I’ll be cringing on the sidelines, complying with the semi-permanent gag order he will have issued at puberty.

Tonight, right here and now, may be my only chance to have a say.

On any given February 12th, when Bug smacks his head and realizes he didn’t make the reservations or buy the tickets, he can always take a deep breath. Wander into his kitchen. Open the cabinets. Begin.

Love, Relationships, Things I Can

11. Things I Can Tell: The Other Story

The phone pings. Almost there. Come out and help.

He pushes his bare feet into sneakers and doesn’t bother to tie them. Outside, she pulls past in her father’s SUV, shoots a U in the street, and comes to a stop at the curb. The afternoon is warmer than it should be. The last crusted mounds of snow cling to the shadows under the eaves. Everything else is soft again. Somewhere close, a bird sings and sings.

“Help with what?” He calls. She steps out and goes around back to open the hatch. He squishes across the grass and down the driveway. Smirking a little out of the side of her face, she leans towards him without turning. She is busy shoving something sideways in the cargo area. He kisses the exposed cheek.

Inside the car, blue and brown plaid cushions flop forward. She tugs too hard at a wooden foot and one of the pillows escapes. He grabs it before it hits the damp street. The upholstered monstrosity is jammed up against the ceiling of the car. He stuffs the cushion in by the window and fits his hands around the back. She urges the front feet forward. It twists just enough and slides out in one smooth motion.

They stand there together holding the two ends of the chair and glance at each other. She cracks a grin. He begins walking backward up the driveway and she wobbles along.

“You bought me a chair?”

“No,” she huffs. “Hold on.” She sets down her end, adjusts her grip, and picks it back up. “I bought me a chair.”

“Shouldn’t I be meeting you at your house to do this, then?”

It is too wide for the door when they go through straight. They slow, back up, tilt the top. He guides it at an angle. The bottom corner catches on the door frame. He pulls without realizing it’s caught and she lets out a little yelp. The wooden foot has gashed the molding.

“Oh gosh, I’m sorry.”

He laughs. “You should be.” He steps over a pile of shoes and nudges aside a plastic bin of sports gear. The lid topples off and he almost slips on it. “You’ve comprised the integrity of this meticulously maintained home.” Once inside, they set the chair down in the narrow foyer. Reaching around, he pulls her into to the corner where he’s pinned and then folds her into a hug. Even though the sky has been clear, her hair smells like rain. “I’m on strike until you give me a clue. Am I storing this thing for you? What’s the deal?”

She leans back a little and warms her fingers on his bristled cheeks. She looks at him. “Hi,” she says.

He grins. “Hi.”

“Come here,” she says as she breaks free. She clambers over the chair and up the stairs. At the end of the hall, she clicks on the light to his room. The cat leaps up from a pile of laundry and darts past their legs. “It’s only me, dingbat,” she hollers. She walks around to the far side of his bed and pushes at the mattress. It scoots a few inches closer to the door. The she twists open the blinds on the small window behind her and muddy February light trickles into the room.

The corner breathes wider as she opens her arms into it.

“Here,” she says.

“You bought a chair for my room.”

“Yeah. But also, I bought a chair for my room.”

He shakes his head. Smiling but only halfway.

“This,” she says. She traces the small corner, its emptiness around her, with her hands. “This is my room.”

“And your chair.”

She shrugs and her face slides into and back out of one of its funhouse distortions, quick as a blink. She glances down and touches her fingers to the windowsill. A draft chills the wooden lip. “A place to write,” she says quickly. She hasn’t looked back up. “ReStore had this sort of side table, too. It’s really small and I’d like to sand it down. You wouldn’t believe how good a deal –”

“That’s so presumptuous,” he says. Now she looks up and her eyes register this blow. But he smiles. “I like it. I like that you presume. I want you to.” He starts to step around and stops a few feet short of her. “Can I come in?”

She lifts her hand from the windowsill and laces her fingers together. “Sure,” she says. “But take your shoes off. I just moved in and I want to keep things nice.”

He steps beside her and they stand leaning into each other, gazing out at the room. “It’s cozy in here,” he says.

“Isn’t it the perfect size for me? It took me a long time to find just the right place.”

His hand is on the small of her back. He feels her arch her spine into his touch. “How long do you think you’ll stay?”

She turns to to look up at him. His glasses are cocked a little on his nose and she straightens them. “The landlord hasn’t asked for a long-term lease. He’s letting me do this month-to-month.”

“He sounds like an idiot.”

“Oh, he is. But he’s good with a wrench.” She drops her voice. “Also, he’s sexy as shit.”

He groans and bends her back to kiss her once, hard. Then, into her hair, he whispers, “That is one ugly chair.”

She laughs and pulls away. “Well, good thing it’s not yours.”

“You’re crazy.” He takes her hand and leads her towards the hall. “Let’s see if we can make that monster fit.”

 

Choices, Love

Link

Magic Rings

We belong to the conjurer. Separate and seamless, you in his left hand and me in his right. A twist, a clang, we slam into one. Solid chain, linked, as if made this way. As if always.

It’s jarring when they slip apart again. So smooth they go, and this time, without a sound.

We no longer speak in the dark. Promise has lost its voice. Nevertheless, we lean in as if we still believe. Look here, he says. He gives them a twirl around his wrist. We watch, knowing better. The price of admission includes a pass for enchantment.

Do we want them linked or free? Reasonable people would just get on with it. Decide and be done. If the man unbuttons his cape and hits the house lights, we’d know exactly what we’re working with.

Maybe impotence is a form of power. For a night, a year, for the backlit wish of a lifetime, magic is indulgence. Against better judgment, we hope he’ll never let us see under the hood.

When faith is in peril, keep the theater dim. Whisper the charm. Follow the gesture of the offered hand and pay no mind to his fingers. He may or may not wear a wedding band. Of all people, he knows how tenuous the link. He knows there are always invisible seams.

He’s mastered levitation and the suspension of doubt.

What happens to the discarded ring? Somehow, the story lingers. We refuse the god but ask the pastor to invoke him regardless. He is there still, or maybe it’s just an imprint of an aged spell. Hammered metal, more than an orderly arrangement of molecules in a chunk of deep earth. It is a thicket of notions, a fasting band, a crown of thorns.

You slept for a hundred years, after all, as did I.

Metal, dust, molecule, atom. Inside everything is the smaller fragment. What holds an object steady is just a set of conditions. What holds the intersection in alignment is just the proximity of sets. The stitching is evident if you look closely enough.

Incantation is both source and sustenance: the words, the whisper, the angle of light, and where you choose to place your hands.

We are not fixed by circumference. Every line we draw contains the space between component parts. Anything can escape.

Anything can stay.

Love, Relationships

Don’t Blink

Maybe when the moving van is idling in the driveway. Or as the plane lifts off. Maybe when the only ones left encircle the bed with whispers of permission. Or when chain link goes up around the place where lovers learned to fox trot long before they could imagine what would be lost.

It’s rarely so clear when we have our last shot.

Endings don’t come with a narrative pause.

When they do, the impulse is to fold like shutters. Pain approaches on horseback. Voiceless momentum, the vibration down low, the faint stink of iron and scorched powder. Get small and douse the lights. Better yet, dash out the side door and don’t look back.

My grandmother told me about the dust coming like night. More than a vision of it choking out the horizon, it was a growling, quickening pulse. Like the collective hackles of every living thing — mule deer, jackrabbit, gnat — bristled to action. Burrow. Batten down the hatches. Take cover.

Run.

It takes an act of will to unclench. That ending is not going to put on rouge or slow its gait. To look it right in the eye means staring down something whose ugly keeps expanding as it shambles into view. No wonder the urge is to cut it off before it can fill the frame. Call it claiming the story. Call it authorship. Call it power.

Call it for the cowardice it is.

Dare instead to turn towards that death. Creak open. Blink clear. See the arrival of the departure.

See it whole.

The architecture. The clay shards. Cracked paint, rusted locks, weathered lips. The polished steel fragment of a fallen bridge.

See the lines in its face. The leathered scar that masks its soft place.

Dare to love completely what you already mourn.

The chance won’t come again.