Thanks for reading.
These are for you, she said. Give them back to me when you mean it. They were my letters to her, wrapped in a pink ribbon, penned in medium black ink, written over weeks that turned months. Hopelessly devoted, they said. But never doubt, they said.
I still have them.
I wander. I click and clack. I breathe black smoke. I carry the sun and I carry the moon. We run through forests and we run through valleys and part for tunnels long and bright. That familiar humming in the night, that sonorous whistle breaking morning, that’s me. That’s me.
Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I see your face. I see your blue eyes and blushing cheeks and puckered lips, drawn by the brush of memories, daubed by the finger of God, brightly brokenhearted, soft and feminine and delicate. Baby, I wish we could try again.
I’d try again.
Every face tells a story, he said to us. When we walked on the streets that day we saw them, in the old man standing outside the coffee shop, in the young woman sitting in the park, in each other’s faces when we came home after a long fruitless day.
Every hundred fifty years I come for you in dashing gold and blue. Hello, I say, from my shroud of stars, raining light. Hello, you say, waving a handkerchief, white with lace, trimmed with tears. When I finally burst over the mountains frosting the horizon, we do not say goodbye.
He’d always been so ungrateful: sour when snow glittered overhead, rueful when rain whispered soft behind him, cross when clouds galloped across the perpetual pastures of sky, and weary even when the wind carried leaves in lines of color, a signature of cheer to another glorious day on planet earth.
These are the last words. Time will turn them to fossils of left-justified Georgia, but the old ghosts will remain to haunt me with memories remembered and dreams dreamed and hopes hoped. We are encouraged to shine on.
Besides, you have your own pictures in words, and mine cannot compare.
There was that fall on the ice, his jeans torn and leg bleeding. There was that spring, bright and blooming, when she told him she was getting married. There was the accident, a dash of tire marks, metal crumpled like paper, Death watching amused from the shadow of the overpass.
There it lay, tucked shyly between a bagged egg salad sandwich and a juice box fresh with condensation. The note waved stilly at him, a flag of surrender, of peace, or both. Between bites of banana and dollops of pudding, he ruminated on Abraham Lincoln’s angel mother, and his own.
She was beautiful, and not the kind you see in movies, features glowing in soft focus, soundtrack streaming serenely. She was beautiful, and not the kind you see in magazines, beaming from the rack with shining eyes, caught between glossy images of unshaven men and overpriced purses. She was beautiful.
Brawley wears a gold helmet and a black leather bomber’s jacket. 42, it says on the sleeve, with arrows. There’s times he’s been and there’s times he’s being and there’s times he’s going to be. When he takes off his mask, which he’ll never do, you’ll see what I mean.
Unlike Shakespeare claimed of himself, he was born under a rhyming planet. He tied the words off in knots, like a cherry stem under his tongue, lolling out from teeth to palate and back again, like an arrow shot through branches reaching sky, like the words cellar door. Cellar door.