Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mama Says Om-Juicy (a fictional vignette)

I’m here to speak for the body.

Yeah, I’m surprised about it too. It’s not something I really think about, well, much, anymore...not since my Henry passed away last spring. I look at these new tree buds and I don’t understand why they’re here anymore. My Henry loved spring, so it’s wrong that it should be happening and he’s not here to enjoy it.

But enough about that...I said I came to talk about the body--the body in all of it’s juiciness, its soft places, hard places, and everything in between. You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but...I’m juicy, too. Or, I mean, I used to be. I don’t pay much attention to that now. Or I didn’t, but I do again.

I work in the library--that’s where I met Henry, all of those years ago. I’d see the kids come in, with their piles and piles of paper and books...but that wasn’t what was on their minds. No, they were like little trees, sap rising and pooling all of the time inside of them. I watched them watch each other, and I tried to stay out of it. Not that it was hard. They were in the dance, and I was on the sidelines again, with my too-old body, nothing extra anywhere--practical like an ironing board that slides back into the wall--that was me. It was like working inside the TV, on one of those nature shows.

But I still loved the library. It was quiet, and devoted to books, and, well, quiet.

Henry walked in one day. Of course, I noticed him...tall, distinguished, impatiently flipping through one book and then the next and the next.

Of course, he says he was looking for me. He always said things like that. But it’s true that as soon as he looked up and saw me looking back at him, he stopped looking at the book and started looking right at me. A strange kind of look--the kind I saw the kids giving each other all the time over their notebooks, but not the kind anyone ever directed at me. I always got the intercepted looks...the ones that never met their destination because I was in the way. But it was obvious that I wasn’t in Henry’s way at all. It makes me blush to this day to think that I was the way.

Nothing special happened during our courtship. It just changed my life, that’s all, and everything in it.

Marriage to Henry was like being a Persian kitten...he stroked and nuzzled everywhere, lengthening my shadows by sliding his own inside of them. You’re so juicy, he used to say as he nibbled and kissed. Like a peach, a mango, passionfruit. I tried to tell him how I felt right back, but I was wordless. A whole library of words, but not a one that told him how I really felt...how he made me who I always wanted to be. I wish I could tell him he made me feel like an orchid...all rare and unfurled and glistening. I’d like to think he knew that even without my telling him.

But then the day came...the day when the shadows started to overtake him--little things. A pallor. A cough that caught in his chest and exploded. I know the doctors told me what it was, but all I remember was white. And red. The whole world boiled down to those two colors. A buzz, a bad hum like an angry nest of wasps.

And then the day came when I had all the words in the world, but no one to tell them to. The spell he put on me was broken...I was never that heedless orchid, that Persian cat. I was just...me. Like knotty pine, like a piece of driftwood all gray on the beach.

I would have lived the rest of my life this way, too...making sure to stay straight and plain and quiet. My time as a tempting morsel (another of my Henry-isms) was over. And what good had any of it done, after all? Just showed me what was out there, only to take it away?

Oh, I was plenty mad at this body. I stopped speaking to it after Henry’s funeral. Just clothed it and kept it clean and dragged it around like an unwelcome sack. It hadn’t done anybody any good. A transplant might work. I tried. It didn’t. Useless, useless me.

I don’t remember how long this lasted, this divorce.

And I don’t remember where I was when the tears started. I think I was at work, and bumped my backside into a book trolley. Like a jukebox, it started humming Henry back to me, and it was like he was right there, touching me. It startled me out of myself, and liquid rushed to my eyes like a summer shower. I could feel this old body of mine quake in thankfulness. Finally.

I was curious, wanted to see if it was one time thing. So I put my hand, gently, on the small of my back. Oh, Henry was there too. His words were sliding all over me, his hardscrabble hands so soft, like furred paws. He was in the hair that rose on the back of my neck. He was in the watery sunlight that leaked through the thick matted library windows. And most of all, he was in the tears that fell and fell and fell endlessly.

I went to his grave the other day. You know something? It’s the one covered in flowers. Did my tears do that too? I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore.

But I’m here to speak for the body, because Henry always did. He always said it was juicy, and I finally agree with him. Juicy with his memory, juicy with our history together. Juicy with my new moist grief...the grief that gives him back to me over every part of my body.

No, my body couldn’t save him. But maybe it didn’t have to. Maybe it was enough that we saved each other every day of our time together.

Maybe that is enough.

Mama Says Om

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Blogger Nicole said...

I had to read the "fictional vignette" part to realize this was..fictional. Amazing. You had me crying.

2:36 PM, May 09, 2006  
Anonymous beansprout said...

"Maybe that was enough." More than enough...beautiful. Thanks for the words.

6:23 PM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger andrea said...

Simply beautiful and yet so tragic. You toyed with all of the emotions with this one...awesome!

9:04 PM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger deirdre said...

I have goosebumps and a lump in my throat. Beautiful.

9:48 PM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger fern_leaf said...

*sniff* Ack! What are you doing to me? Your beautiful writing has turned me into a tearful baby. So. so. tragic...I had to keep reminding myself it was fictional. Your words are so powerful.

11:10 PM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger Karen Rani said...

You are an amazing writer - that was beautiful and yet, so sad.

7:41 AM, May 10, 2006  
Anonymous Jennifer (she said) said...

fantastic. you toyed with my emotions too - well done:-)

8:32 AM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

this is a beautiful, fabulous story!

11:42 AM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Living Part Deux said...

See, your voice that you feared was silent is still there. It is rich and low and filled with wondrous pictures and tones. You transported me, made me feel the strokes. Made me run right to my "Henry" and thank him for loving all my juicy parts that I often forget to love, that I would otherwise be conditioned to despise.

Take heart. Your voice is rising to meet life.

12:25 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Laini said...

So beautiful! You have such amazing command of imagery. And I love stories of people meeting -- I like to craft meetings for my characters -- that initial coming together. It's wonderful.

7:13 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

At a loss for words with this one--so engrossing! I loved moving out of myself and into your character's body...yes, someone needs to speak for the body--glad it was you.

9:06 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger mary said...

Wow and thank you.

9:03 PM, May 11, 2006  

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