elegy

In August 1992, when the dog days were drawing to an end, and the grass its brittle conscience scoring the landscape crosswise dry cornfields dry earth a radiant heat: Gone are the days of hydrant and hose. Gone the soft sand and the lake water lapping at the feet. The aluminum walker propped near the back door, by the ramp on the ready and that, too: gone. 

summer had now shrunk once and for all to a single, blind grief. Coffee and wine and coffee and the soft whir of the blades of the ceiling fan as they chased the dense air. I am three years old cradled in the hammock slung low in the backyard between mighty trees and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows as he gathers newspapers for the fire. Whistling. Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

or a field of rubble, from which the tenebrous masses of multi-level parking lots rose up. We walked between the long rows of cars one after the other, my hand gripped in his and his fierce low whispers as each row ended. Didn’t he return there, all those years later to lean against the round concrete pillar the painted number 2 yellow and faded and slumped down against it. It is where in the morning, he was found. 

dark hours of the night. The shock that went through us at this discovery. How long was he there? I am seven years old and we are sitting on the wooden dock that juts out into the murky lake. His pale freckled legs and mine. He points out the flicks and flutters beneath do you see them there’s another one but I am looking at his feet and considering the smallness of my own they are just pieces of him but I want the entirety.

presented in reality a perfect kind of order, or an order at which axis bisects object in one rotational symmetry. It is so much later. My hands on his rounded fallen shoulders parsimonious bone wrapped in flesh so thin I can nearly hear their scraping. His skin so dry. He rises slowly. Seventeen steps to the kitchen sink. Eighteen steps back. Eyes dark and red-rimmed and watery. A thin trickle. His yellow hair in my open palm. 

like a glacier when it reaches the sea, it had broken off at the edges and drifted like a dream that foretold of needles puncturing fragile skin. We collapse. We break off in pieces. We place cool rocks beneath our eyes to keep the swelling down. After August, September and its merciful breezes through the garden of stones where he waits. Beneath mighty trees. Amid the rubble. There is not time for what we might one day discuss: Trumpet music or his time in the war.