"Since flesh can't stay, we keep the breath aloft. Since flesh can't stay, we pass the words along." --Erica Jong

Saturday, May 13, 2006

By A Departing Light

My Uncle Ray named the bar the Hut. Inside the Hut it was always cool and dim and beery. Usually country music was playing. Cowboy tunes. Lost love.
Your cheating heart will make you weep, you'll cry and cry, and try to sleep...
The bar was next door to the post office where my mother's sister, Aunt Josie, worked. Our mailbox was number 297. Why do I remember such an inconsequential fact when most days now I can't even remember what I had for breakfast? If I remembered to eat breakfast. I also remember our telephone number was 741, which as Inyokern grew, became 7741, and then 72741. Mama was a telephone operator. The telephone office was next door to the bar on the other side of the street, right across from the Hut. There was a Shell gas station with a big yellow seashell in front on the south side of the street, and a Mobile station with a red flying horse on the other side. There was a market where a nice lady named Cooksie rang up groceries, a barbershop run by Jack the Barber, and a store, which my daddy owned. He bought the store from Mr. Clarence Ives back when the town was only a store and a gas station, called Bentham's Corner. Now the sign in front of the store said: HATTON & HATTON Dry Goods and General Merchandise.

When I was about eight, and baptised, and accountable for all my own sins, I began to wonder how it all started, everything, the world, and time, and stars, and people. EVERYTHING, eternally rushing outrageously in both directions, backward as well as forward. Well, they said, God. Then who made God? I said. What was before the beginning?

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Today I sat with a lump in my throat, listening to Fresh Aire Interludes, the same music my mother loved, the same music I played over and over for her the night before the morning she died. The last music she heard, songs called Velvet, Amber, and Mist, played on a tape recorder until she fell asleep. She timed her breathing to it. Now, hearing it again, I relive that terrible night, and other, sweeter nights when I stayed over and slept with her in bed.

By a departing light
we see acuter, quite,
than by a wick that stays.
There's something is the flight
that clarifies the sight
and decks the rays.

--Emily Dickinson

1 comment:

Pixletwin said...

Wonderful post. Keep them coming.

About Me

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1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.