Prettier than me

When I met Tara she was prettier than me, younger than me, and in most ways far more disenfranchised than me.  In fact there was just one area of our briefly conjoined Venn diagram connectedness where the power was ostensibly hers and definitely not mine: she was the real mom to a baby I loved very much.  In that (I had been told by at least 2 lawyers) she had the legal edge.  She should have been able to designate a capable guardian for her children.  The law favored the biological mother.  And at that time, at the end of 1998, it gave no credence to the foster mother.

A fact I can accept now, after most of the unbearable losing of Tara’s beautiful child has scarred over.

What I can’t accept is losing Tara 

because…

Pretend 

pretend you are a stranger and I am one of those uneven folk you meet at a coffee shop almost from the moment you sit down I have begun to tell this unraveling story about children left alone in a locked room for hours and a fire and a crooked judge, a baby filled with light and her mother, a figure unfairly edited out of all the relevant fairy tales who then ends up dying, not “poison apple” but poison nonetheless and when they come for her with all the accoutrements of salvation there is none left for her, no magic, no fairy godmother, no antidote as the EMTs say oh, it’s (only) Badamo…which is why I, this intrusive stranger, ramble on and on in the coffee shop jamming words into the dam of unrequited 

Grief

Preaching to the dead

First, pick my chasuble with care: war paint, cowgirl boots, stretched-out pale-pink tutu from the racks upon racks at the resale store, brand-new for the girls who did not need them anymore,  all donated to science or the graveyard where I go to pace and splutter out some fractured  litany about a beat-up pickup truck, iterations of a lost father, lawn furniture strewn  above the tree line, the same forgotten first name of both Sikorsky and Stravinsky, and this jittery alter-ego who swings wild, shouts loud, raises hell as though bones and memory and words could be as easily strung together as that-to breath life into the dead as they fit their joints and hinges back together, back to life, the way an ordinary man rises from his bed, rubs his eyes, dons his pants and his shirt, walks out into 

Light

Children of heaven

at dusk I take the bits of fortune cookies, crumbs still scattered across the messy kitchen table and…write to you, about the disposable styrofoam containers, syrupy orange sauce, tendency I have to eat my way through grief (of losing you) when…I admit you…do not need me, better that way, my trenchant sentenceless phrasing, my desert-wandering inertia, my messy house and muted grief all pressed into this vanilla-y cookie folded around words written by a stranger somewhere, perhaps one day there will be an algorithm for these things equal parts admonition and prophecy.  Oh, prophecy, the old clothes of mortality, cast-off, superfluous from the beginning to

the children of heaven.

Mountains in the teacup

trace my hand along the delicate serrated line where the ridge meets sky, all white above and below the brown demarcation line where mountain ends and sky begins, a litany of snow falling  along the narrow path, the minuscule climbers, too small for naked eye, trudging through the storm, coats clutched to chests, never for a moment aware that the scene, the ridge, the world entire is just a teacup in the palm of the hand, held aloft, so fragile, prone to all sorts of risings and fallings, bone China, fragile to the touch

Leaves in water

for so long now I have seen Ophelia’s clothes each time I scoop leaves from the bottom of the pool, of the well, of the teacup of memory she comes back to me with a plaintive song about the boy whose soliloquies broke into a thousand words over water, hovering over the surface of the deep, almost a song until you cannot swim, touch the bottom and feel only tangled leaves, no solid ground to stand on if only she could get herself…well-to a nunnery, of course…high walls, soft voices sorting who or what is safe if not the boy, the beautiful boy with all his talk of infinitives of being….being, just a leaf in water, weightless until it begins to rise over her incendiary last infinitive thought-to be or not to be.

J. crashes the party

If you asked me how I knew it was you I would touch your face and say aardvarks!! Anteaters!! Warthogs!! Your humor as unmistakable as your wit, odd they all refuse to see you, you in the over-sized retro flippers, ducky float ring and wild Hawaiian print crashing the party, the holiday, the cozy churchy potluck making almost everyone supremely uncomfortable.  Everyone except the children who delight in your flamboyant honesty, your failure to adhere in any way to our sheepy ways, shorn and alone

You hand off the flowery shirt, the float, the flippers (none of which you ever needed)

seamless garment to sunblind guards

World go dark, pain and love

Set free