People pass on memes in preference of their genes, a used username and padlocked password, to preserve the account of our lives and our millions of foreign friends in pictures on indisputable proof, covering up with makeup the everyday truth.
When I recall the moments I cherish most, they were not just clear skies, perfectly stilled forests and mirrored lakes.
I treasure the textures: the wisps and shadows of clouds as they menace then pass over the horizon; the bend and release of a breeze against the ever green, the sycamore, a blade of grass; the waves as they crash onto a rocky shore, the wake as it wobbles the bobber, the memories that flood with ripples.
In Kabuki, the actor is the wind, swirling his long hair as a branch alive with blossoms and he becomes her, the wisteria dancing the birth of spring, the rise of her spirit sweet upon the air.
In my garden, the wind is the actor, pulling at her flowers and it is the maiden’s flight, the wisteria out across the goat pasture, the scent gathering divine in the evening’s warmth— the crowd is enthralled.
Dying in the town whorehouse in the old west would’ve been a dream, No gunshots No lawmen Just natural causes. I’d feel for my horse though Hoping someone would’ve told her that it was quick, Out of courtesy.
Lincoln said days were swift as an Indian arrow I don’t believe that’s true Days are like three greased Indian bullets Every two you take to the heart The third you put into your brain And whatever the outcome Everybody else is left To pick up the itty bitty Bits and pieces left
Jacques Cousteau would have loved our living room, where Dad displayed his creepy collection of sea creatures inside the dark paneled den. In this grotto-shrine
there were no pictures of daughters in frilly dresses on the mantle, only a looming photo of an eel sliding from its cove, with a sheepshead and giant grouper
making their debut over the sofa. By the door a parrot and dolphin fish were hung. Our coffee table had cork legs with crushed abalone embedded in the surface
and a glass lamp above it, with a shade made from boat canvas. Hammerhead shark’s teeth and sand dollars were wedged between diving books on the shelves.
At age three Dad put a wetsuit on me. Each summer I joined a swim team, snorkeled and scuba dived. He helped make my surfboard and cheered me on when I caught a wave.
One July I noticed bikinis looked more appealing than a one piece that I liked eating ice cream better than having a salt water-itch and sandy scalp. I gave up diving gear and tackle boxes,
decided fish have a disgusting feel to them and that freaky things lived in coral reefs. I realized jellyfish could sting, sharks were ugly, wetsuits were uncomfortable and people could run out of air using tanks.
I bought myself a little ruffled sundress and stretched out in a chair by the pool. I slathered Coppertone on my legs and put lemon in my hair. I stopped praying I would grow fins and that my photo would be hung on the wall.
Sometimes I become completely overwhelmed by merely being in her presence, like this afternoon at McDonald’s with the grandchildren, suddenly I’m choked with emotion, barely able to speak, while simply watching her sitting there eating her salad, quietly, unassumingly.
I had to work at not crying, (What a silly spectacle I would have been.) dabbing at my eyes with a crumpled McDonald’s napkin. Guess my eyes are watering because it’s so cold outside. (Sure, nice try, you silly old man.)
I can understand being so smitten when you first fall in love–how can you help it! The beauty, the youth, the vigor and vitality, the inescapable mystery of it all, crashing over you like an avalanche in the Alps. But come on! I’ve been at this now a long time, with this woman almost half a century! How could it be possible that I still get all choked up watching her sitting there simply eating her salad?
Cradle-born to the high church, she spent every turn from Epiphany to Nativity on a needlepoint kneeler her great-grandmother stitched until that warm July Sunday in ’74, when she bore a son with seizures, one they quickly suggested was best left at home.
They still send their newsletters, appeals for funds, announce parish meetings to discuss what to do about the ravens that jump up and down on the roof, their litany of caws that drown out the priest.
When she shows at St. Michael and All Angels, she slips into a pew, takes her place at the back, leaves before the sermon and Eucharist—fed now, not by thin wafers and wine, stories she can no longer swallow, but by the music, candles and incense,