From her bed, the woman dictates to her daughter.
She says: Write this down. And when I am gone, take it to him. Promise me that you will find him. Promise this.
Do you know that still you come to me in dreams? Do you know that you stand here near the bed and you feed me ripe persimmons? You bring me anjou pears. Plump purple figs.
I tell you bring the chair here and you do. You sit by my bed and read to me from the books you love. You bring your mouth close to my ear so that I can hear you even when you whisper. And you whisper when you say the words you love most.
You say: “and the body is dedicated / to you full of armfuls of you.”
You say: “ecstaticness”
You whisper: “and the sea / with no reason, swells, and the river, from it, grows / and falls and the bridge over which even Hart Crane / could not throw himself today, draws cars and trains / and cars and trains and cars and trains over / the water, calls them deep into the hapless city.”
Are you writing, daughter?
I walk through the rooms of my house, down the long hallways. There are corridors I have not seen before. It is like this house is not my house. What is behind this door, I wonder. As if I have not known it my whole life.
Outside the window of this room – this room where in dreams you come to me – there are forsythia bushes – wild and leggy branches reaching out in all directions. They are bare now, save for a yellow bud or two that remains – clinging – a last gesture of hope in this cold. This cold that is now settling in to this city. The long days of summer are gone. We are left with cold and the yellow buds that still cling to these branches. A reminder that once there were blooms here. The fallen leaves collect and swirl along the ground. A brittle papery sound. I can hear them sometimes if I am very still.
Do you remember the summer? Do you remember the way the heat of it settled into our skin? The salt and sand of days spent by the ocean, where we watched as the light faded? Didn’t it seem like those days would never end? That we could hold them somehow in our hands?
And the fading light.
But the nights too had their glow. Didn’t we stretch out the hours?
You whisper: “incandescent.”
They were building a bridge that summer. At night, the sound of jackhammers pierced the stillness. Short bursts of it would wake me. I would sit up, stunned by the white light in the distance. One night, I got out of bed. Went downstairs to the kitchen. To the sink for a glass of water. Out the kitchen window, I saw a woman sweeping at the ground with a broom in the yard next door. She was illuminated by the light that spilled from her house and I watched her there as she shuffled back and forth moving her broom across the pavement.
Where did you go?
In those long months and years when we did not speak. Not a phone call, not a letter, not a postcard with only a stamp on it and my name. Or yours. Where were you? What did you see? What did you think as you moved through your days? Was it my voice that you carried with you?
When you come, bring me pears. Bring me the softest persimmons you can find. And we will share them here, in this room.
Together, we will eat until we can no longer remember hunger.
I am tired. I sleep lightly. I think I hear wind even when there is none. And rain. I hear rain fall all the time.