“A Blur of Echoes”
Let’s forget everything we know to be true about you and me.
Let’s just say you were born that day. We’ll say you splashed into
my hands on a salty wave and I licked you clean, sucked the ocean
from your lungs. Let’s say I lifted you, laid you on your mother’s
belly, where you squirmed and dreamed like a little idol. Can we
remember it that way? Please. The way her hands looked like
wings as she pulled you to her breast, wept on your face. You
woke up and stretched your jaw with a yawn that shattered the
window in the room, cracked open the ceiling the roof of our
house and we were covered with snow. You remember, don’t you,
snow falling all day long? Warm snow, deep snow and the shards
of glass and the glisten of your brand new breath in the air.
Let’s say you crawled you walked you continued to shout at the
sky. You ate enormous quantities of oatmeal. Your breath became
brown sugar. Like your big brother you sang and sometimes
hummed yourself to sleep. Like your big brother you darkened
under the sun. You tugged at his flowing yellow hair, you
followed him everywhere. He was glad you were there most of
the time. Like your mother you shaped the earth with your
hands. You drew pictures. You remember, don’t you? We
covered the walls. Birds mostly.
Let’s remember it that way. Let’s say my shoulder does not still
wait for you to arrive. Your face and closed eyes do not look in at
me through every window. For me, each fall of snow is not
beautiful and somehow dead. I do not gasp awake and shake in
my bed certain that I hear you humming. My night is not filled
with sounds. My night is not a blur of echoes. I do not separate
them out one by one, try to narrow them down to something I can
name. Birds mostly.
from The Kenyon Review winter 2010.