All my memories, all gathered ‘round her
My my lady swingin’ through the water
Dark and dusty painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, tears gone from my eyes
A gurge is a vortex formed in the sea by currents moving in opposite directions. A harrow is a plow with teeth for dragging over dirt clods and rocks. The accumulation of righteous dead souls from the beginning of time to now, the three day walk through the heart of the earth to save them all from inescapable horror, that was a good one, let’s hear that one again.
As opposed to the let’s hear daily the no more than twenty acceptable modes of being in the world. The fun socks. The high-and-tight. The boy shot dead down the street, the fire in the house down the street, the lady shot dead in the street, retribution for the thrown soda. The busker holding his head in his own hands and leaning back against a wall. The busker leaning face down into an unplugged electric piano. The powerlessness of ideas, the bad news.
Expectations can accumulate a kind of weight, a hallway can move like a river current, a room can spin in both directions at the same time, slowly. It’s confusing. For long stretches I am all right, I will not cry again, maybe ever in my life, and then again I am crying. There is the bed, a bench at its food, at one side a sofa, at the other side a window. Have you ever had a load of hay fall on you. Dad can’t get the phone out of his jeans so we pull into the library parking lot. We might be too late, he says.
I walk in and she is on her side and Mary is at the left side of the bed kissing her on the head and Sheila is beached sideways on a chair. My mom walks up to me and says she’s gone. She is on her side like she’s sleeping.
Dad and I walk outside. I can’t look at him or the cars going by so I look up. It’s strange, he says, how everything keeps going.
When they turn her body on its back I feel scared of it. I can look but only for an instant. My aunts are all kissing her, and talking around her about the arrangements. The stench is growing but nobody notices. My older brother was in this building as a baby, when it was a hospital. Dad stood here on the 4th of July and watched the fireworks.
I am standing outside the building with Dad, my cousin, my two aunts. A grey sedan pulls up. We whisper that’s the coroner maybe. A man steps out wearing jeans and a leather jacket. He puts a letter in the mailbox and drives away, we all laugh a lot. That’s what he gets for driving a Crown Vic around here someone says. They shouldn’t put a mailbox outside the hospice we decide. It’s a Mercury Cougar I think but do not say, many equivalent trivial corrections bubbling into my head at a higher rate than the already high usual. Do you think I should take a picture of her in there, to send to Joe and Dick. Maybe they would ask if they wanted one.
They said they have a nice blanket they can put over her. The woman from the funeral home arrives and she jokes with my cousin and I about games on the mobile phone. Mom plays Gummy Drop, I say. Her partner plays something called Cookie Jam. Why? A woman from the hospice comes to me with a portable speaker, I am to hold it in one hand and play a Dean Martin song off my phone as we wheel her to a black minivan. Did she like Dean Martin? I am walking shoulder to shoulder with my cousin who is filming. We get to the driveway and the woman removes the pink quilt and my grandma is in a maroon bag.
I see, said the blind man to his deaf wife. It won’t be long now, said the monkey who backed into a lawnmower. I once knew a little boy who. Oatmeal raisin cookies shipped everywhere I live until I am 25, in a ziploc bag inside a cardboard box. I come home from school and she’s in the kitchen wiping down the countertops, wearing the apron I made in sewing class. Do you want a cheeseburger she says, and twenty minutes later she comes back with a cheeseburger. The red Saturn pulling into the driveway, steady like a VHS tape ejecting. My grandma standing on the beach, far away from the water, her cotton slacks and sneakers and a tucked in T-shirt. One hand on her hip and the other hand shading her eyes. The colors green, brown and white.
All the grass is dry, and in fact the whole of Colorado is the color of sand. Out the window: dried up sunflowers facing away from the train with their heads down; sand-colored horses turned toward the train with their heads down; a fake pond or a real puddle. You can see the sky for a great distance in a short glance but only the solar arrays face skyward.
I saw a man rolling a dolly full of hamburger buns down an alley. A few blocks later, I saw a man rolling a dolly full of hot dog buns down an alley. I saw a family walking down the street. The father was carrying a large plastic panda, and from the bottom of the panda extended a power cable, dragging along the pavement. When I saw this electric panda I thought of a phrase I wanted to write down but I didn’t have anything to write with, and I knew before forgetting that I would forget. I saw a man rolling a dolly full of British savory pies down an alley.
It was raining a little, and cold, but everyone in the city seemed to be strolling along as if on a picnic. I was reading a book on the bus. Try to imagine the world as if you had disembodied and stopped in time while everything else carried on, the book said. Try to imagine the world as if you had died and become eternal.