My grandfather tells me he likes tall music, he loves tall paintings, he'd like to sing me a tall song. He tells me a secret: His wife was too tall. Grandma? She towered over me! He winks. Then, glancing at the sky, he tells me to pick a mirror, any mirror, and try not to look in it. He glances over his shoulder, leans conspiratorially, and whispers a secret: he breaks and buries ever mirror he can find--to get rid of flat energy, to make his brain taller. Now he'd like to sing me a tall song. Would I mind? He made it up last night, he says, instead of sleeping. And so I stand self-consciously, pretending to grow taller while he spits and coughs and holds his throat and praises me. I think I want to demonstrate how much his love still means to me, and so I claim I'd like to dance to his singing; in fact I tell him I could dance so tall I'd be crippled or die if I fell from such a height; I tell him I'd dance the tallest dance in the world! So he winks again and assures me I won't fall as long as he keeps singing. He promises to sing for me every day: "from now until my voice is gone..." And all I say is yes or no. We are standing in his driveway in Connecticut. I am opening my car door; he is nodding now with open arms, waiting for a hug. The leaves on the hedges he keeps so meticulously trimmed are turning their bellies up, chattering in sarcastic voices, lauging humorlessly in the stationary wind.
I yearn to forget all useful work, to tap into the veins of moon in my arms, to open my arms to the blue core of things, the fossil in my own bones, the barking inside trees. You were with me--weren't you?--when our dust became the only weather. Cobwebs staunched our every wound, until we felt half whole again. But gestures contradict us, gestures always mention birds: My lover tells me vultures can smell us from way up near clouds. And then she tells me parrots are as intelligent as dolphins, intelligent as chimpanzees, intelligent as children. We laugh at the notion of that intelligence, and I unfold my memories to dry them, to preen, hoping they look sleek and impressively large. These mornings alone are an avenue of trees stretching off into their distance: not a forest, not wild, an orderly arrangement of bright objects and breeze. The ground is mowed grass, wildflowers. And hair. We might weave ourselves together, I told my true love, we might bind ourselves and sleep. Then I told her large animals had rubbed against our house while we slept entwined in love. I claimed their coarse black fur had bristled through the open window while we lay dreaming.
Could I freeze my best energy to breathe when I am old, could I take a
shot of this me fifty years from now--and could I thus grow into what I
never was, hoping for myself someday? My eyes are my own. My lips
are nearly mine. I love to forget, she said, because it makes me lighter,
and lighter makes me feel. But I'd already removed the glass from all my
windows. For that very purpose. Replaced it with those pictures, those
mirrors, those songs I love when I'm alone alone, those patterns of
forgetting that feel like song. Rescue my remaining days and open any
door you see to fill the world with time well spent in wasting ourselves
blissfully. As I can call myself most present without being here at all. And
you should know I always try. And you should know I recollect that love,
just being with my own small blood, no one else around to laugh at our
And I was mine and then we were and I can't truly hope for more.