Meta μετά - a consciously self-referential story that often takes place down a rabbit hole.
So many songs and poems have been written
on a Sunday afternoon that,
just to be original, I think I’ll go and make
another cup of instant coffee.
“How odd of God to choose
For a dollar twenty-five beneath the crown
in Guelph, Ontario they are mine.
Lewis and Costain are finished.
There they lie like dusty childhood trinkets
sullied by the egocentric eye
that used them so unmercifully
to fill the spaces lost in time.
France is gone.
The telephone is silent
but the house is filled with ghosts
of ringing phones and great beginnings
of what might have been
if I hadn’t left it just to walk
in crunchy snow with leaky boots.
Mountain time is ticking in the bedroom
locked inside the eastern clock
with Leon Uris close behind.
A smiling Jewish kid sends me letters
filled with love and science labs
and Hermann Hesse and once,
a watercolour filled with hearts,
one defiled with X.
“You know I fucking hate you.
You haunt the halls at 2 a.m.
and I think your sister wants me.”
I grab another cigarette
and tell him not to visit.
Chains can be like houses
depending on their purpose—
whether keeping all outsiders well away
from what’s within
or to gather all together in
and on it hangs the Holy Catholic Cross
of Jesus Christ,
a rather heavy question to be wearing
round my neck
on a Sunday afternoon.
I think I’ll go and make
another cup of instant coffee
for Lee to come with the piano.
It’s May 14th. Many things have happened on this day throughout the years. Lina Medina becomes the youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five and a Pope dies. Israel becomes a nation and forms its first provisional government. The Freedom Riders’ bus in Alabama is fire-bombed and civil rights protesters are beaten by an angry mob. The first smallpox vaccination is administered and the Netherlands surrenders to Germany.
On this day in 2010, the sky is a particular shade of azure that happens only at this time of year. The air is filled with the scent of lilacs, the blood of sweet green shoots and dark, damp earth. It’s a heady perfume, perfectly balanced and beyond comparison with any singular thing. I breathe deeply. The sign in the window of the Parfumerie on my right proudly declares the creation of a new scent – Beyond Sex. I would hope so, and I push the thoughts of dirty hotel linens from my mind and assure myself it’s probably sandalwood based. We keep walking.
On the left, an earnest young man in wire-rimmed glasses is shoveling dark earth and raking it into what will become gardens gracing the way to the dumpsters behind the United Church. He reminds me of John-Boy. I notice he has thrown his red sweatshirt over the handles of the wheelbarrow and I wonder what year it was when red became an acceptable colour for Christians to wear. In biblical times, crimson is a colour of sin and decent people usually kept to black, white, blue and grey. You certainly don’t see the Amish in scarlet overalls. It must be that great rationalizer – moderation.
We’ve just come out of the small corner grocery store where we bought luscious red grapes and dark roast coffee from Ethiopia. Three young men are gathered at the corner of an old brick building, laughing and shoving each other as young men do and speaking in an African language that plays like a melody. If I understood the words, perhaps it would not be so lovely but this way, it’s like birdsong. I can’t remember when it was that I learned birds are not singing, but yelling obscenities at each other over territorial disputes. My reverie continues as I pass the three-story purple house with the chandelier on the veranda. I’m not far from home now.
I can see them up ahead. A few of the patients from the long-term care facility at the Misericordia hospital have been trotted out into the sunshine while the staff hovers over them, some dutifully, some engagingly, and some indifferently. A wheelchair is parked under a tree, holding a man in his middle years slumped forward over his blanket. His eyes are open but they appear not to see. His attendant is nearby, staring into the bark of a tree. I can’t help but think how well matched they appear to be, although I find myself hoping the man in the chair is running though the spring sunshine somewhere else in his mind. It occurs to me that we, as humans, are all about reciprocity. Otherwise, someone would be sitting with him and reading aloud. And then there are the ladies, seated around the patio like garden gnomes and being fed chocolate ice cream carefully scooped into child size cones. One lady in particular was positively twinkling while taking in the sights and sounds of my companion. No phone, no pool, no pets. I ain’t got no cigarettes… Roger Miller recedes into the background as we pass.
“Did you notice you were being admired?” I ask him.
“Yes. I’ve always seemed to attract old ladies.” He gestures toward the house on the corner that had recently sold. “I do hope the new owners enjoy landscaping. It would be a shame to see these beautiful gardens disappear.”
Apparently, he is already holding the shovel I’ve handed him.
“Yes, it certainly would be.”
Now what was the name of that parfumerie?
* * *
© 2010 by Alexandra Lucas/SilverGenes. All rights reserved
The sunrise wrapped around my soul today
and held me gently in petals of light.
Emerging, as from a chrysalis spun
in darker days, in you I find the sun.
Shadows from our past, not so long ago,
floated by in wisps of melancholy
over snowy fields and into the sea
and once more I wept for you and for me.
I felt you then, your arms wrapped around me
in our own Liebestod. What do you want?
Your voice was tender. Only you, I said.
It may be difficult for I am dead.
Perhaps we’ll start with chocolate and then
you’ll learn to fly. You mustn’t be afraid
to try, you said. I’m never far away.
You made me laugh, and so began my day.
Your eyes are in the photographs you took.
Your voice is in the music, in the wind,
in the rain and your smile is everywhere
I look. You are my cure for mal de mer.
* * *
Excerpt from Life and Death Crossroads
©2014 Alexandra Lucas. All rights reserved
Photo art: Alice Popkorn on Flickr
Outside the machine, the bleeding hearts trace
the lifeline across the palm of my hand.
Are they dancing or do I make it so?
I am seven-years-old, not again but
on my way from school
in a yellow gingham dress edged in lavender.
“Danny likes you,” calls a boy behind me.
It can’t be true. My heart feels different.
Like a butterfly in the spring garden,
it dances in the locket of my soul.
near the gateway now
in a yellow gingham dress edged in lavender,
the bleeding hearts cross my palm and I shout
across the space between us, “He does not.”
Inside my spirit, hope sings. I feel love
for a boy with freckles and reckless joy.
Inside the machine, I set the table
for a family that would sail away
without me. There is not much time to breathe.
“Stay off the dock,” my mother says. “Today
a boy was drowned. His name was Danny.”
across the threshold
in a yellow gingham dress edged in lavender,
the sound of knives and forks became a song
cutting through the evening. “I like you too,”
I whisper. “Did you know him then?” she asked.
The wings within my soul drew round him close.
Outside the machine, the sun is brighter
Moments live here and they stay forever.
They cannot be painted or imagined.
The locket holds the bleeding hearts and love
Still dances along the palm of my hand.
* * *