I’m a little bit done with you. The last twenty miles of tires scraped my bones raw, the four hundred before that burned my liver to a crisp. When we pull over, I’m getting out of the car, knees buckling with the weight of sitting for long enough to make it further than we should have gone. I’ll tug on my wrinkled shirt; over the hood I’ll hear your coat catch in the seat belt and your shoes scrape as you hoist your bag to your shoulder. There will be a moment when my hand lies flat on the dirt of the door before I raise my elbow, slam the door. That will be the last moment, and you won’t see it; you’ll notice the slam in a few hours when it echoes in your brain, when you realize the silence of the room is real. By then, maybe I’ll be in a diner, yesterday’s newspaper steamed by toast and coffee.
There will be a cat watching you, sunset stripes rolling in the dirt you just shook from stubborn grass roots. He will chew minutely on the bare rose thorns, sniffing each delicately, ears flinching when the nose is pricked. Here you are on your knees, you don’t like cats so you just talk to him instead of touching, threaten him to stay away from your daffodil bulbs and trailing purple spiderwort. Each worm that wriggles under your digging you should clumsily pick up between garden-glove fingers, transplant a foot or two, scraping a little ditch home. Everything will quiet while you do this, while he squirms uncertainly, frantically. You didn’t realize there were so many pebbles, rocks, stones, how cold the concrete was until you were kneeling for too long, dirt flung up to your elbows. In the morning you will have bruises but for now it’s late October and the dirt has changed from wet summer heat to dry, closed, secret winter. No frost yet so the bell peppers, the sage, the moonflowers still pretend to be warm, though tonight they will shiver a bit. The dark that gathers is the same as when you were seven; only in soft folds that promise midnight, no cold dusk that drives your age inside. Tomorrow the garden will still be yours, but you know, as an ambulance screams past down the road and the street lights buzz and tick to life, you know it won’t be the same garden.
Photo (c) 2012 by Christopher Montgomery.
They duel in clacks, half manhandled, half in love with your fingertips. Red and black, sashay back. Years ago you took her hand, tips oh so red, to your neverending lips. One hip in hand and moved her back, twice-stepping to the curb, into black. Or, you would have.
It's really the idea that lingers, the one that catches her like a hangnail when she crisscrosses these straps over her ankles. She remembers, she stood back to wall with flower handled and twisted in her fingers, spine rubbing and aching on brick. She wanted to hold your gaze, take your hand, but the snapped strap held her mute against the language on the floor. Untouched, untaken. She bites her nails, cursing away memory.
Ok. It's a click in your brain. Mine. It's these bright red berries, clear, with cunning seeds. They stuck in my throat that night as my eyes burned with the boiling vinegar behind me. I wanted to offer you something more real, more me. I can't buy and wrap love with foresight, it all comes out in a tumble. I could have burst like one of these packed berries, so firm, full of heart. Firm of heart. We are hearts, we wring them til dry in the sun sometimes, but you're as steady as glass. I delight in squeezing these currants til they bust with juice.