Gone now 50 days. Until Wednesday afternoon, I still couldn’t call Verizon to cancel her phone. Shutting it down felt like having her die all over again. The love’s still roaring out and rending body parts. We goddamn did it though, you know? I’m proud. Do you hear what I’m saying? My hand fits perfectly around that foot.
Fifteen feet from where I sit, there’s a fancy wind chime hanging by a poster from a Pablo Picasso exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in the summer of 1980. We rode up there from Maryland with Hall and Betsy in the back seat of their little Mustang II. I didn’t mind because he drove, but New York isn’t all that hard if you can keep your mind on what you’re doing while you’re gawking at the sights. The show was stupid crowded. Shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world trying to squeeze in close enough to see the art. The wind chime on the other hand we bought in Las Vegas, New Mexico some 15 years ago to hang on our front porch once we found a place to buy. Well, guess what? It never happened!
“Home,” she’d say, “all our things in one place, hoooome…”
Seventeen years together in this old adobe. Quiet, sturdy, charming. Also sand falling from between the boards above the vigas, spiders, mice, no central heat, an ancient Whirlpool washer that empties into the kitchen sink if you remember to stick the hose in right and weight it with a frying pan. One year a bear broke down a plum tree.
The river kept on running. Mothers died. My aunt died. Teresa died and Bill died. People dropping everywhere and leaving shit to figure out. One summer I had to go to Austin every three weeks to smoke dope with the dying. Arizona nearly broke me. Calling Kathy crying on the phone because I couldn’t find a damn motel in Tucson in the fucking heat and someone stabbed the tires on the rental car, plus my mother and my brother were insane. I had to fly to Maine. “It’s only life,” she’d say. We kept our options open even as we sought to put down roots. The seasons passed. We lived. We loved. We hiked. We fed the cats and watched the moon, took long road trips every year. She loved the air, the mountains, the wildlife, the beautiful black-haired girls who talk so fast, and missed our friends in Maryland. There were bad days but we made it. She laughed and played piano all the time.
I’ve been looking at that wind chime lately feeling really low. Then it hit me that was crazy. It doesn’t matter what you think you didn’t do because the journey never ends. My God, look at what we did. The roots are in our hearts.
More and more the way I see it is, her race was simply run for secret reasons. She’d wake up early in the morning sometimes musing darkly and I’d try to set her straight. Now anything that puts me right in front of she’s-not-ever-coming back will set me off. There’s a pressure deep inside that builds. Look at me, you know you want to, and I do because I love her, and the stab is sudden, sharp, and almost sweet. I tell her things I never said in life. She’s here somehow. She sees. Whenever I have outside business on her account, I wash my hair and shave and wear a fancy cowboy shirt with snaps and roses. Big Zuni inlay silver ring and shades.
The only things that ever made her cry in pain were being treated badly and me beating up on myself. I can’t take back the times I hurt her. (Yes I did, it’s in the blood.) My hand fits perfectly around that foot you bastards. I want the world to know. She does.
Oh baby doll. I miss you so much. What the hell am I supposed to do?