The End of Days
Tonight I will let go of this memory. And this one. I will be a great, dark tree. I will let fall the days like leaves. Let fall each sad, dead moment. This one. This one. My father crying and crying. My mother laying across his body. The black bag they zipped closed in front of our Christmas tree.
So many people in my life would say, "Shhhhh." Would ask me to keep the secret. "Shhhh, don't talk about it."
But it happened.
All the squatting, plastic machines in our living room, the tubes across our rugs. A hospital bed between the bay window and the sofa. We watched The West Wing because we could not speak. Shhhhh. We could not say what was coming.
We could not tell it. Not a single word was big enough. I stopped listening to music. There wasn't a note--not strummed or beaten or sung--that could put sound to it. He asked me to help him: "Girl," he asked me, "do you have any words of wisdom for your dad?"
And I, who have so many words, who copies Faulkner passages for the love of those beautiful words...a myriad of immolation and abnegation and time.... I, who have poem upon poem...here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life....
If my boundary stops here
I have children to draw new maps on the world....
...and we and the words and the world are emptied into a dream--
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow....
I shook my head and looked down at his hands. I have no words for you. I have no words.
I felt how soft his skin was--skin that had never been soft, getting thin now, thinner and thinner. Thin enough to see the universe inside him, all the destruction and decay. Life gone berserk...blood and heart and lungs. Cells, like planets, exploding.
...rendering death and forever with each breathing....
Father, all the words I could not muster. I had none. I have none still. It can't be written. I couldn't have known or told you...love and loss and sorrow...they are the color of water...they are the taste of snow...impossible. Impossible.
Larger than I can carry.